Friday, January 14, 2011

The Value of a Smile

While I was going through my humor library the other day I came across this book of "Quotatons to Cheer You up When the World is Getting You Down" by Allen Klein. I was feeling kind of down and I needed to change how I was feeling. So I went to my humor library and sought out something to adjust my attitude and lift my spirits. The following quotation made all the difference in the world for me at that very moment. Plus the picture of my niece, Madison gave me reasons to smile!!

"A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who rceive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes last forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and is nature's best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. "

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Power of Mirthful Laughter

Mirthful laughter, once you have experienced it you want more. Say what! Mirthful laughter is positive and friendly, caring and empathetic, sensitive, constructive, supportive, inclusive and creates bonds. It leaves you feeling optimistic, less stressed, relaxed and helps to keep us healthy. Just the mere anticipation of mirthful laughter has been shown to reduce the levels of three detrimental stress hormones, cortisol, epinephrine and dopac. A constant release of these stress hormones can be harmful to your immune system. A recent study of 20 high risk diabetic patients were divided into two groups. Group L (laughter) and Group C (control). The researchers followed the groups for 12 months. Both groups were given the standard medication for diabetes. Their blood was tested for the stress hormones. Group L watched comedy videos of their chosing for 30 minutes daily while Group C only received the medication for diabetes. By the end of the second month Group L had lower stress hormones suggesting lower stress levels. Plus Group L increased their good cholesterol and had lower levels of inflammation. At the end of the twelve months,Group L had increased their good cholesterol by 26% wile Group C showed a mere 3% increase. The researcher concluded that a daily dose of mirthful laughter coupled with the standard medication for diabetes may lower stress and increase good cholesterol. Another important finding of this study was that mirthful laughter may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease often associated with diabetics. So in conclusion, a daily dose of mirthful laughter is worth a "shot" for patients with diabetes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Laughter, Don't Work Without It!

Are you leaving work stressed and exhausted? Are you waiting for the weekend to have some fun? If you answered yes to these questions, then you need to replace the coffee break at work with a "humor break." Yes I said a humor break. Awaken that 'inner child" that wants to come out and play. The all work and no play mentality is so played out. Sorry for the pun. But it's true. Stop twitting, stop tweeting, stop texting, stop facing, stop e-mailing, stop faxing and start laughing with your co-workers, friends, clients, patients, or at yourself. Norman Cousins, in his book Anatomy of an Illness, stated that joyful laughter is a catalyst that causes your brain to create endorphins that relieve stress and balance the immune system. The immediate benefit of this is a spike in your energy level. Work overload, and stressful situations at work increase the production of stress hormones and cause the flight or fight syndrome. Our bodies constant exposure to these stress hormones result in accelerated heartbeats, increase in blood pressure, an inability to think clearly, shallow breathing and less oxygen to the brain. We cannot change our work environment but we can utilize humor and laughter to change our response to the stress that is inherent in our workplace. Some ideas to make work fun are:
  • Create a humor library at work
  • Show funny appropriate video clips prior to a staff meeting
  • Put cartoons on inner office memos
  • Play a game of human tic tac toe
  • Create a fun slogan for your department
  • Establish a fun committee
  • Have a joke du jour day
These are a few examples of ways to lighten up your work environment. What other ways can you think of that would be fun or have heard about?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's a Duchenne Smile?

Have you ever looked at someone smiling and thought to yourself that he/she was not really smiling? Well then, you have the makings of a humor detective!! That's right, people can and do smile for no reason. As a matter of fact a French neurologist, Dr Duchenne conducted several hours of research on the difference between a fake smile and a genuine smile by observing patients who had severe brain trauma or strokes. His findings revealed that two parts of the brain control smiling. Voluntary smiles are controlled by the motor cortex. The types of smiling that is intentional and brings good feelings to your body (receiving gifts, getting an A in a course, etc). Smiles that are spontaneous and the result of some emotion (daughter's wedding, surprise birthday party, etc) are controlled by the cingulate cortex. Patients who had a stroke or a brain injury can appreciate a joke and smile if the cingulate cortex wasn't damaged. Dr Guillaneume Duchenne further defined the differences in smiles. A true genuine smile stimulates the zygomatic major muscle and lifts the corners of the mouth in an upward movement and the muscles around the eyes (the orbicularis oculi) to wrinkle up, also known as crow's feet, by pulling on the cheeks. Dr Duchenne noticed that "fake" smiles or smiles not attached to any specific emotion, engages the zygomatic muscle but not the orbicular oculi muscle. This is why true, voluntary and intentional smiles are referred to as Duchenne Smiles.

To test your ability to spot a fake smile or a Duchenne smile cut and paste the url below and go to the website and take the short but very interesting test on smiles. Return back to my blog and let me know how you did. It's only a test but oh so very powerful!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Humor: A Preventive and Maintenance Rx

The connection between your sense of humor and your health is vital to the quality of your life. Recent studies have shown that emotions, attitudes, what you think, and your mood have a significant impact on how well you deal with stress or a chronic illness. In 1936 Dr Selye, a Canadian physician and research scientist was the first medical clinician to suggest that stress might be associated with disease. He also suggested that stress has a negative effect on patients heart and their immune system. That was 74 years ago!! According to other studies , 70% of all disease are associated with stress and 85% of office visits to a doctor are related to stress. Candace Pert said, "The chemicals that are running our body and our brain are the same chemicals that are involved in emotion. And that says to me that...we'd better pay more attention to emotion with respect to health." (Check out Candace Pert at Many research studies abound that supports and documents that our sense of humor is one a preventive tool and two a maintenance tool we have that if used consistently and appropriately works for us and not against us in our daily battle with stress!! So when life starts to get you down reach for the prescription bottle of giggles and get your laugh on!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I was just thinking about life and how we limit ourselves when it comes to humor and laughter. Think about it? As babies, adults could control us until we learned how to walk. Once we started to walk we began to explore the world and laughed, giggled and smiled at everything that was new to us. That was what we wanted to do, all day long!! One day we woke up and our ability to play was limited because of the playpen. Why did they call it a playpen? Most toddlers hate the playpen. They scream, cry, yell, throw everything adults put in for them to play with out! Our natural instinct to explore was often taken away from us. And yet as adults some of us act like we are still in the playpen. Some adults don't take the time to find something funny to laugh at. Babies create their own humor and laughter. Some of us have lost that ability. Our barriers and challenges come from the world via our values, beliefs and standards about humor and laughter. Your VBS 's are being held hostage by the stress of surviving the day, the week, the month, etc. Your sense of humor can give you a new lease on life. Take a few minutes to view the video to see how babies get their giggles on!! Then ask yourself when was the last time I produced that kind of humor and laughter?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Humor in Education

Humor helps students learn especially when it comes to teaching adults. I am referring to those students who do not go directly to college from high school. Their value, beliefs and standards about humor and education are intertwined with their varied life experiences. Humor can be used to engage students in experiencing something they don't know in a safe and non-threatening environment. A good percentage of adult students at UCB are preoccupied with the demands of working full time, going to school part time, child care issues, chronic illnesses, and language barriers to name a few. It's based on embarrassment. What's a teacher to do??? Well if you were in the Health & Life Fitness class you would practice your "verbal humor skill" via tongue twisters. Yes, tongue twisters!! By encouraging the students to practice their verbal humor skill using tongue twisters they have learned a very valuable lesson. You have gotten their attention. They are able to understand and articulate certain words better. Additionally, they have gained an enormous amount of confidence. At the end of the activity it is no longer a language barrier but a wonderful humorous experience. When you put together the letters that are in bold they spell "LAUGH." If you say the following tongue twisters you too can laugh at yourself. Come on, give it a try. Practice makes perfect!!

I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop.
Where she sits she shines, and where she shines she sits.

Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks.

I was born on a pirate ship
Say it while holding your tongue!!