Enjoy a laugh because April is National Humor Month

I see the humor in the National Wellness Institute declaring April as National Humor Month. Many people get uptight about taxes, and laughing really does help your mind and body de-stress. So let’s have some fun.

The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor is the sponsoring organization. They define therapeutic humor as “any intervention that promotes health and wellness by stimulating a playful discovery, expression or appreciation of the absurdity or incongruity of life’s situations. This intervention may enhance health or be used as a complementary treatment of illness to facilitate healing or coping, whether physical, emotional, cognitive, social or spiritual.”

I first heard about the healing ability of humor when I read Norman Cousins’ book, “Anatomy of an Illness.” He had a painful terminal illness and wasn’t given much hope from the medical field. He began watching Laurel and Hardy, Marx Brothers, and other comedies for hours a day, and found out that laughter caused his pain to diminish. Then mobility was restored in joints that had frozen up.

When he returned to the doctors in three months he was completely recovered. He wrote the book and changed millions of lives as a consequence. A more well-known quotation of his is, “Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.”

Anyone who is interested in learning more about the application and benefits of therapeutic humor is welcomed by AATH. Psychologists, counselors, healthcare practitioners, nurses, social workers, doctors, funeral directors, business executives, teachers, managers, clergy and business executives are welcome to the resources AATH offers.

These resources include education, materials, research, publication, and an interdisciplinary network for its members. They offer classes through the Humor Academy. One can become a certified humor professional.

Kauai has its own humor professional. His name is Jeffrey Pears, and he is a bereavement care coordinator at Hospice. He also teaches laughter yoga. He has found that sometimes families get into conflict, and need a way to stop and press the reset button. Laughter yoga is one way to do that. I took his demonstration class at the Kauai Wellness Expo this past December. I could see that some of us were skeptics, but Jeffrey had us laughing in minutes. It lightened up the entire presentation room, the food bar, and the presenters’ room. I was taking tickets the next day when he offered it again, and I realized that it also spread into another room. We want to laugh! Google “laughing baby videos” and see if you don’t laugh and feel better.

Jeffrey’s website is laughteryogakauai.com There’s a video of a clip from an Oprah show. She sent her depressed, skeptical, grieving make-up artist to check out a laughter yoga class and he was joyously transformed. He told Oprah that it really worked, and that he remembered how much more he freely laughed when he was younger. He loosened up too, although there is little traditional yoga practice in laughter yoga. It’s a short video and you can see some of the laughter exercises people do.

Laughter Yoga was started by a doctor in India. It is now practiced in 53 countries, and there are over 8,000 laughter yoga clubs around the world. A second video on Jeffrey’s site shows a laughter club in San Diego getting together in a park for their laughter time.

Jeffrey states that laughter yoga:

– Releases tension and stress symptoms

– Improves health and energy levels

– Fosters a positive mental attitude

– Strengthens the immune system.

Jeffrey’s classes are set up now by appointment. He has offered laughter yoga for students at Kauai Community College, seniors at residential facilities, to profit and non-profit groups on Kauai, and more. If you have a minimum of ten people who would like to get together and laugh, de-stress, and boot up their immune systems, get in touch with Jeffrey by calling 634-9992. There is no charge. It is his gift back to the community.

OK, so we can warm ourselves up to laughter, but can we develop a sense of humor that can serve us? Yes. You can go to www.wikihow.com/Develop-a-Sense-of-Humor. It’s encouraging. We’ve been developing our sense of humor since we were born. Here are some suggestions from that site:

– Learn to tell when someone is making a joke. Listen for errors, exaggeration and absurdity. Listen for an overly animated voice, words said in a different speaking voice or accent, more gestures and bigger facial expressions.

– Learn to respond when someone else tells a joke. Not everyone laughs when they are amused, and this can lead others to think that they have no sense of humor. Try laughing or smiling when a joke is told, or even say, “That’s funny!” If it’s appropriate, you could offer a joke back, or play off the joke teller. Comedians interviewing comedians do this. Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert on late night television are two great examples.

– So you’d better learn to take a joke. Try to joke back instead of getting mad. If you respond with amusement you win. Either the person was trying to tell a joke, and he’ll be pleased that you got it, or he was trying to insult you, and you didn’t let him get to you. If the teasing continues just say something like, “That’s not my kind of humor,” and leave or change the subject.

Here are a few G- rated jokes to help you start: “I wanted to grow my own food but I couldn’t get bacon seeds anywhere.” “My dog used to chase people on a bike a lot. It got so bad, finally I had to take his bike away.” “Police officer: “Can you identify yourself, sir?” Driver pulls out his mirror and says: “Yes, it’s me.” “Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house? Of course, a house doesn’t jump at all.”

There are 14,000,000 hits when you Google Jokes. Happy Humor month!

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Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org For more information about Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, please go to www.haleopio.org

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