Now really, once you take a look at this picture of the man I live with, do you think I needed this chapter? Martha Beck suggests that you laugh at least 30 times a day as part of her Joy Diet. Piece of cake!
I had the good fortune years ago to interview and hire a colleague where I worked who had laughter down to a science. She had set up humor carts in hospitals where she'd worked. She had countless tricks - things she'd learned, things she'd made up - to keep the department, patients, students not only laughing but coming up with creative ways to solve problems. It was exposure to her that got me going to the Humor Project's Laughter and Creativity Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY. Even after she moved away we'd still meet there. It was a terrific education for me.
I come from a family who likes to laugh anyway. It's often how we cope with the fact that we have some big differences in the way we think. When we can find things to laugh about together, we know how much we care for each other, and it reminds us we are so much more than our opinions. But actually learning more about laughter and how to facilitate it in certain situations made it a much more intentional activity. And as Martha points out, it multiplies exponentially.
One of my favorite props is the red sponge nose. They're small and light enough that you can ambush groups with bags of them. I met a CEO who kept one in his briefcase. If a board meeting got too contentious, he'd bend over as if to get a tissue or something and come back up to the table with his nose on. While the attention of the group was focussed on the ones arguing, he'd sit patiently till someone noticed and the bickering would stop dead.
I love to play with the noses. When my niece got married, I brought a couple of bags of them and passed them out to people at the reception. Suddenly everyone was dancing with red noses, making conversation with folks they didn't know, and the fun just kicked up a few notches.
Years ago I was laid off from a job that I'd had for 9 years. There was a large restructuring in the hospital and a lot of people's jobs disappeared. It was a very traumatic event. I'd never quite understood how awful that can feel - that when you've worked hard and done a good job, you can still be so vulnerable. You feel such rejection. The method they chose to tell the employees who were to leave was humiliating - they called you in, asked you to turn in your passwords, etc., and you were escorted to your car. My co-worker who had the same level position as I did was called in first and came back crying, saying "I don't have a job." We were both trying to absorb that information when they called me in - and I, too, was gone. I'd just come back from the Humor Conference a week or so before that. And I think the effects from being there were what helped me get through that period with some grace. To begin with, I suggested to Janet that we go to Mohonk - a gorgeous place to hike. It was 10 am, the most beautiful late spring day, and rather than go home alone and sit and mope, we decided to take advantage of the fact that we were free to do what we wanted. We hiked, we groused, we stewed, and we laughed that day. Of all the surrounding memories, that's my favorite.
When my husband's brother died suddenly at 48, it was the laughter that started everyone on their journeys to healing. Chris had left us with lots of memories that we could share with tears running down our faces - because they were so funny.
My grandchildren keep me laughing; each one has given us some priceless stories that have become part of the family lore. The four year old alone, pictured, keeps me well above the threshold of 30 laughs per day.
I'm intrigued by the HoHoHaHaHa yoga. Maybe I'll check that out.
I hope you're getting your daily dose of mirth. You might want to check out the Humor Conference Website: http://www.humorproject.com/
And to read my Joy Diet companions' responses to this menu item take a look at Jamie Ridler's blog: http://tnc-thejoydiet.blogspot.com/