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Laughter As A Healer

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#1
Mudpuppy

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Laughter As A Healer

There is a lot of seriousness in this today’s world. We need to appreciate the things that keep us balanced, which keep us from being crushed under the weight of seriousness and which we can use to maintain our sanity. As the saying goes, there’s a time to work and a time to play. There also is a time to laugh (or larff depending on where you hail from). Life may be hard and at times unfair, but that doesn’t mean it has to be intolerable. Humor is what helps the most.

When we get bogged down with some of the ordeals of life, we need a diversion. One of the best is humor. It took me a long time to understand that it’s one of the most important ingredients of a healthy and balanced life. I spent many years in the military training to be serious. I am spending the rest of my years learning not to take myself so seriously.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s where a social phenomenon known as “personal-growth movement” swept across the country. My mom brought home a Wayne Dyer book called “Pulling Your Own Strings” and I started to catch on at an early age. Now that I look back on that time, it was all rather funny. It was led by gurus known as humanistic psychologists; millions of people began the quest for realizing their full potential. The goal in all this was to become “self-actualizing”. No one seemed to know exactly what that meant at that time, but it sounded good. It was the key phrase in a decade of psychobabble. Human-potential psychology became the rage and people went to great extremes (and expense) in order to find their “space”, find their “center”, and find “themselves.” Options included encounter groups and sensitivity training (where people yelled and told each other what they didn’t like about them); learning the Maharishi Yogi’s style of transcendental meditation (as long as you brought a white hanky, some flowers, and a sizable amount of money); Rolfing (I don’t think that means throwing up), EST (where the leader called people assholes and wouldn’t let them go to the bathroom), transactional analysis (in which you learned which “ego state” you were operating from), marijuana smoking, hot-tube soaking, nude massage, and a whole bunch of others. Looking back, it all seems pretty silly. People actually became “growth junkies” (and most of those baby boomers are still doing it today only instead of calling it a growth movement it’s now the New Age movement). Since I was one of those and still hang on the fringe of the New Age movement, I can poke fun at it all and afford to have a good laugh when I see how it started and how it’s continuing. The only unfortunate thing is that I never did learn how to Rolf. :unsure:

I had bought into the movement because, like countless others, I felt something was missing. I was looking for the fulfilled life but never found it in the personal-growth movement. It had become expensive, exhausting, and serious. Way too serious. And I think it actually did me more harm than good, because it began to weigh me down. Then a funny and unexpected thing happened. During this time but totally unrelated to my relentless search for nirvana, I saw two movies which had a more positive and lasting effect on me than all those “personal growth” experiences put together. I saw Private Benjamin (quite a few times since I could so easily identify with her) and later on The Jerk with Steve Martin. I also saw the original “In-Laws” with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin and I must have watched it ten times. Each time it got funnier and funnier. Just for the price of three tickets (on the military base they were only 50 cents back then) and about six hours of my time, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. The point of all this is that sometimes we need to take something simple and remind ourselves to not get too bogged down, to not take life and ourselves too seriously. I don’t mean to imply that life isn’t hard and many times isn’t fair, I just know that the only way to get through those times and survive is to get plenty of laughs along the way. When I was stationed in Germany and things were getting me too serious, one of the locals I worked with always put on “The Chicken Song” and forced me to dance the chicken dance with him. It’s hard to be sad when you’re flapping your wings like a duck with someone else. It actually works. I still have the song inside of a chicken and when I feel blue; I press the button and dance the dance. I taught it to my daughter. In fact, she was doing it last night and made lyrics to it. ("I don't want to be a chickiee, I don't want to be a duck, I just wanna shake my butt, clap, clap, clap, clap). When I'm upset because her room looks like Dorothy's tornado in the Wizard of Oz :angry2: .......she does the chicken dance and it immediately stops me in my tracks. You just can't be mad when someone is dancing like a chicken. :He He: Very clever for only eight years old. Anyways, everyone has a different type of funny bone that tickles them. You have to look for what you find funny. Older programs like Mayberry RFD are hilarious. Also another good one is the old episodes of Candid Camera. That always puts a smile on my face. They show us pictures of real life. Life is funny. There is comedy all around us. We just have to look for it.

Edison and Einstein

O.K. Now here are two guys that don’t exactly come to mind when you think about humor. Edison tried a thousand times to get the light bulb right before he succeeded and Einstein being a Jew during a tumultuous time for them and working on relativity--all at the same time. But the fact is that both of them attributed their success in the serious part of life to knowing the importance of the less serious parts. Both discovered early that to work too hard or to think too intently for an extended period does more harm than good. That’s why people need breaks on the job and students take study breaks. The mind gets overly stressed when it’s subjected to seriousness for too long. Humor and play break the tension.

The stories about Edison’s capacity to work long hours and endure thousand of frustrations are almost legendary. What’s not as well known are his methods for sustaining himself while working on his famous scientific breakthroughs. Edison kept a cot in his laboratory (as did Tesla). He took frequent pauses and naps (much like the Germans do) on it because he knew that only when the mind is in a restful state does it work most creatively. Edison also discovered that humor put his mind at ease. In addition to maintaining hundreds of notebooks full of scientific equations, he filled several others with nothing but jokes. He found that comic relief was valuable for both him and his staff. He used it as a tension breaker and a morale builder. He said later that people who laugh together can work longer and harder together, and with more effectiveness.

And what do we think of when we hear the name Albert Einstein? Genius? Brilliance? Physics? The theory of relativity? Probably all of those. But according to Einstein himself, some of the keys to life were simplicity, fantasy, and play. He said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible”. (Sort of like the Occam’s razor theory). He told a group of Princeton students that he would have no interest in the laws of physics if they couldn’t be made simple. One of the ways Einstein kept things simple was through play. Those who want to research his personal life will be surprised to learn what a playful person he was. He literally “fooled around” with ideas and numbers because he knew that his discoveries would eventually come through play. Einstein has a great lesson for us: play is one of the most effective ways of simplifying life. It’s what we did so often as children and too often forget to do later in life.
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Laughter and Healing

Thousands of years ago a wise man by the name of Solomon wrote his famous Proverbs. Among them, he said, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (17:22). In modern times, one of the most popular magazines ever published is still Reader’s Digest. It contains a section each month entitled “Laughter, the Best Medicine.” Is there any scientific evidence to support these claims that laughter has the power of healing in it? Yes.

Only in recent years has the medical profession discovered the almost miraculous healing power of laughter. And the discovery wasn’t made by a physician or a medical researcher. It was made by a patient, one who refused to accept a medical prognosis that he had only a few months to live. That patient was Norman Cousins, well known for his many books and a writer for the Saturday Review at one time. Cousins was diagnosed in 1964 as having a serious disease involving the connective tissues. He was also told by a specialist that his chances for survival were one in five hundred and that he had little time to live. But Cousin’s will to live was strong, so he decided to assume most of the responsibility for his own healing. He designed a program which required daily use of all the positive emotions. Among them were faith, love, and hope. Cousins said these were easy compared to the other one he knew that had to be part of his healing: laughter. How do you laugh when you’ve been told you have an irreversible disease and only a few months to live?

But laugh he did. Cousins developed a systematic program for getting daily doses of hearty laughter. He started by watching the Marx Brothers movies and anything else he could get his hands on that would make him laugh. Later, when he wrote of his healing experiences in Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins said, “It worked. I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.” Medical tests done since then have established that there is a physiological basis for the biblical theory that laughter is good medicine.

After Cousins remarkable recovery, he went on to write more books and one of them had a chapter in it called “The Laughter Connection”. Without repeating here the mountains of scientific evidence that support the theory that laughter is a great healer, let me just summarize the findings of Cousins and the doctors who have worked with him. There is now clear evidence that laughter can be a strong painkiller. In addition, laughter can enhance respiration; produce morphinelike molecules call endorphins, increase the number of disease-fighting immune cells, reduce stress, stimulate the internal organs, and improve the circulation of the blood. Scientific evidence is still accumulating more data to support the biblical axiom that “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine”. They weren’t so dumb back then after all.

Some of you might not be familiar with Cousins but there were a few that came after him recently that have duplicated and expanded on his work. Their names are Dr. Bernie Siegel and Dr. Patch Adams. Both have written extensively about the power of humor and hope in the healing process. If you haven’t seen the movie Patch Adams, I highly recommend that you rent a copy. It’s a little corny in spots but otherwise heartwarming, funny and based on scientific evidence.

Laughter Is Not Just Good Healing—It’s Also Practical

If laughter and the other positive emotions can do all these things for us when we’re sick, think what they can do when we’re healthy. If it’s true than an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, then a joyful heart and laughter should be part of our daily routine. If a downcast spirit really does dry up the bones, then we need to keep them greased with some solid belly laughs. Probably the most important discovery about the benefits of laughter is that it can strengthen our immune systems. It has a way of refreshing and revitalizing us. In addition, laughter has been known to sooth jangled nerves, reduce tension, calm tempers, stimulate creativity, and simply make life a lot more fun. Laughter is the tonic of life. It has restorative and invigorating powers. It enlivens and energizes us. It’s also an effective lubricant—it can smooth out some of the rough spots of daily existence. Finally, laughter works wonders in relationships. Someone once said that laughter is the shortest distance between two people. It has a way of uniting them.

Laughter isn’t only healing, it’s practical. It’s essential. It’s one of the chief ingredients of mental health. We have a genuine need to take a break from life’s harsh realities—to act like a nut, to roar with laughter, to delight in the absurd (Annunakis anyone??), to chuckle at cartoons, to tell and hear jokes, to see funny movies (Watch 28 Days with Sandra Bullock—very funny in many places), and to do wacky things. There’s wisdom in the ancient proverb that tell us, “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest of men.”

In conclusion I will just say again, I know this from experience because if being serious was an Olympic sport, my picture would have been on a box of Wheeties. A good friend of mine said I seemed to have the weight of the world upon my shoulders. She asked me if I ever laughed. That was about the same time I saw those three movies. They showed me the importance of seeing the comedy that’s all around us. Even though I loved Steve Martin, I never really turned into a “wild and crazy guy” but laughter did become a high priority in my life. It now ranks right up there with food, sleep, and air. I can’t imagine a day without it.

A good place to start is the internet. The real key is looking. There is another old axiom that says we usually find what we’re looking for. And there’s plenty of comedy and laughter to be found out there. I can’t imagine a healthier pursuit. Perhaps this thread is a good place to start. I’ll go first.


Eddie Izzard on Star Trek

Eddie Izzard on Engelbert Humperdink

The Evolution of Dance

Edited by Mudpuppy, 02 August 2008 - 10:06 PM.


#2
Mudpuppy

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Smells Like Nirvana

Amish Paradise

Red Hot Chili Peppers Parody (This one is really funny!)
The Original "Give It Away" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
I just had a thought that for those who hadn't seen the original back in the 90's, here it is....if you can stomach it. I actually think it might be funnier than the parody. I don't know what those guys were on. This is definitely a wierd one.

Fat (No matter how many times I see this I laugh hard!)

This last one is called White and Nerdy and it's pretty funny but when I seen it I didn't know who wrote the original song because as much as I hate to be "uncool", I don't really listen to that type of music. (Nothing wrong with...just not my cup of tea) Anyways, I found the original. It's by Chamillionaire and it's called "Ridin". If you want to watch it first than the funny one makes more sense.

Ridin by Chamillionaire
White and Nerdy
P.S. I just noticed that was Donnie Osmond during the goofy dancing in the back of Wierd Al! :He He:

Edited by Mudpuppy, 02 August 2008 - 10:37 PM.


#3
StarLord

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Damn! Talk about a tough act to follow!!!

Laughter IS medicine. There is no bout a doubt it.

Not only do we need to be able to laugh at life and it's pitfalls that cause our pratfalls, I'm in 100% agreement with you Mudpuppy, we need to stay very far away from taking ourself too seriously when we become emotional.

It's quite interesting how much your life has mirrored mine to the point that I see myself in many of your travels.

Many a respite from the day's cares was found in military movie theatres. Trying to decypher what it was that caused the audience to laugh at things on the screen up there was one of the biggest hurdles for me at an early age for without the visual accompanyment of a fall, something falling on someone, being chased, a pie in the face or the exagerated facial expressions, the only clue I had that something was funny, was the audience bursting out in laughter.

Of course, I'm refering to adult humor. Not the ribald or skirting the edge of propriety sort, but the kind that ripped a good heart felt deep belly laugh from you and typically caused tears because you couldn't stop. Irony for a child is elusive until trapped in that first moment of cognisance that our identity, actions and experiences were the powder needed to set off the cannon.

It dawned on me that "old" people were the source of this wondrous and mysterious new material. I started to hang out with old people as much as they would allow me to. It goes without saying, being young and unobtrusive at the same time works about as well as eating a PBJ with a straw. Maybe even worse. It took a serious amount of rebukes from teens and those in their early 20's in order for me to refine the search and concentrate on really "old" people, folks in their 30's and 40's, those people just had to have the information I was looking for. I noticed as they got older, most of them seemed pretty interested in the where abouts of my parents and the fact that I should drop what I was doing and go look for them as they were undoubtedly at that very moment, worried to death about where I was, that they shouldn't have to worry and IF I was a good son, I'd scoot home and assuage their fears about my well being, not to mention that I would singlehandedly avert their heart attacks and or strokes that were perched right at the precipice of them having to experience due to my absence.

Suddenly, it became all to clear that the only source of that information I so desperately needed was secreted in the persons of really, really, old people that I had come to know as ancient, the magical telltale being, white hair. Aside from the ubiquitous suffering, pains, aches, accidents, problems, marital difficulties, over blown fears, copious amounts of medications, trials and tribulations, next door neighbor altercations, fixations regarding the corrupt goverment and their puppets, religious fanatisism, flatulence, repitition of subjects and conversational points, dozing off, wandering and meandering of subject matter, pontifications far and wide over vast subjects, I knew I was really screwed. Doomed and bereft of any hope in piercing the heart of Humor and why something was funny until the moment of my first important ephphany.

How was it possible that these perambulating dinosaurs fraught with all those problems managed to survive the onslaught of their own existence? Each and every one of those fossils had the ability to laugh at themselves and the predicaments that life ofttimes placed them in direct opposition to their druthers. I noticed that those that were unable to laugh at life didn't hang around long. That those who didn't laugh often were lacking the energy to look ahead to that new pain and that new failing that sneaks up on humans at that age, and survive it.

Then all hell broke loose and our family could afford a TV after Pops got a significant promotion and I descovered the Three Stooges, Mickey Rooney, Buster Keaton, Red Skelton, Abbot & Costello, Sgt. Bilko, and all the other chiefs of Comedy back then in glorious Black & White Television.

Come to the Light side. There's No Medals For Stumbling Around In The Dark Is There...Forgive The Darkside, For They Know Not What They Do.

We are Spiritual Beings Having A Human Consciousness Experience.


Wait Long Enough, People Will Forget What They Are About And Show Their True Side To You.


#4
Mudpuppy

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Star, our lives mirror each other in many ways. The thing is, if one never dares share a piece of themselves with anyone, you will never know how much alike you might be. I bet there are alot of people walking around that have more in common that not. By sharing I don't mean just randomly sharing with anyone. No one likes to put their head on the chopping block for others to take a judgmental whack at. But when you find someone you feel inside that you can trust, sharing both sorrows and laughs are some of the quickest ways to get back onto the road of healing. It gives you a chance to get your feelings out in a healthy way and find out what your friends have also learned and one of the best things is that you will find out that you ARE NOT ALONE. Validation of what you are feeling gives you the encouragement to bounce back again.

Near the end of A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway's famous novel about World War I, he wrote, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." The world does, indeed, break everyone, and usually not just once. But as a broken bone becomes Even stronger when it heals, so do we. It all depends on our attitude and our choices. We can become stronger at our broken places if we choose to learn from our trials and endeavor to persevere till then end. Our struggles in life, as painful as they are, can be our most valuable learning experiences and our greatest source of renewed strength. There's a popular George S. Patton book out--I'm not sure if you've read much about him but he said "Success is how high you bounce after you hit bottom." Getting back up to that "high" is where alot of things come into play. I would rank humor as #1. :D

Edited by Mudpuppy, 02 August 2008 - 10:57 PM.


#5
Mudpuppy

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Here's your daily dose of laughter! It's Obama Time! - Dave Chapelle

(I posted this once in the off topic area. I hope you don't mind if I repost it here).

Keeping It Real
This is a good laugh!


Edited by Mudpuppy, 03 August 2008 - 09:45 PM.


#6
Mudpuppy

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I don't know if you watched Everybody loves Raymond when it was on but there is this one episode that is HALARIOUS. It's where Robert wants to be a model. The photographer wants mega money to take pictures for his portfolio and Raymond tell Robert he can do it for free. So they go down to the basement and start shooting. I couldn't find the whole clip but I found the begining and ending in two seperate clips and then the reaction of the family when they saw them. It's very funny. He's such a funny actor.

Robert's Photos Part 1 (It's just the first 40 seconds of the clip)
Robert's Photots Part 2

The family's reaction They didn't know Raymond was the photographer!

Here's a couple where Robert's trying to dance. Really funny.
Robert Dancing

Robert trying to teach Raymond how to dance!
Robert and Raymond dancing together

#7
Mudpuppy

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Star Wars Parody Part 1

Star Wars Parody Part 2

Edited by Mudpuppy, 05 August 2008 - 06:06 PM.


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StarLord

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I loved Space Balls. Those Snails on the princeses Head were killer.

Ah, so was the Top Speed on Rick Moranis's Ship and the "breaks". Problably why Rick's crash helmet was so big in the first place, they knew the dark side would be falling down a lot.

Come to the Light side. There's No Medals For Stumbling Around In The Dark Is There...Forgive The Darkside, For They Know Not What They Do.

We are Spiritual Beings Having A Human Consciousness Experience.


Wait Long Enough, People Will Forget What They Are About And Show Their True Side To You.


#9
MajorUrsaNorte

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"My swartz is bigger than your swartz".........
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#10
StarLord

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Ah yes, Swartz Envy.

Come to the Light side. There's No Medals For Stumbling Around In The Dark Is There...Forgive The Darkside, For They Know Not What They Do.

We are Spiritual Beings Having A Human Consciousness Experience.


Wait Long Enough, People Will Forget What They Are About And Show Their True Side To You.





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