From 24/7 This! The Merry Method To Accelerate Success . . .
The Comic Zone contains much laughter. People in the Comic Zone are infused with the spirit of laughter, they have an aura of smiles. They have high self-mirth. And that is good for those inhabiting the Comic Zone because laughter has power. Great power. Sacred power. Astounding power. We should honor laughter and what it does for us. Laughter strengthens our health, torpedoes stress levels, catapults creativity, forges strong teams, and accelerates learning. It gives us many gifts. It is a magic potion, elixir of life and fountain of youth all rolled up into one hearty hee-haw.
Many Laughs A Day Keeps The Doctor Away
Laughter improves our health by strengthening our immune system. The immune system has a whole arsenal in our body to resist and fight disease, and laughter fortifies this arsenal.
Doctors Lee Berk and Stanley Tan are two of the leading researchers on humor and the immune system. In an article by Karen Peterson of USA Today reprinted in The Detroit News on November 6, 1996, entitled “A laugh a day: medical researchers now have proof that silliness is good for what ails you” the research of Berk and Tam is discussed. “Their lab tests show that after exposure to humor such as funny videos, there is a measurable decrease in subjects' stress hormones, including epinephrine and dopamine.” She goes on to detail many of the changes found in the immune system after laughter.
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Quite impressive, wouldn’t you say? No need to memorize this list. The important thing to remember is that laughter wholeheartedly helps your immune system.
And speaking of heart, a new study out of University of Maryland indicates that laughter is cardioprotective -- reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
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“The ability to laugh ‘either naturally or as learned behavior may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer,’ says Dr. Miller [one of the researchers]. ‘We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list.’ Dr. Miller says it may be possible to incorporate laughter into our daily activities, just as we do with other heart-healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. ‘We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously,’ Dr. Miller says. ‘The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be -- exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day.’” All right! Go, laughter!
Throw Out The Valium
Let’s not stop there. Laughter also reduces stress. Patch Adams, MD, details the physical responses to humor, in his book Gesundheit! Among the benefits he writes about are "superb muscle relaxant qualities," and he adds that "anxiety and muscle relaxation cannot occur at the same time.” Humor thus seems to be a natural tranquilizer, as well as a health booster. Dr. Adams adds, "People crave laughter as if it were an essential amino acid."
Chuckle Your Way Out Of A Rut
We are on a roll here. What’s the next gift? Laughter increases creativity. Nowadays creativity is essential to success. Creativity guru Edward de Bono begins his book I Am Right — You Are Wrong by stating that "humour [sic] is by far the most significant behavior of the human mind.” He goes on to explain the essential role of humor in finding new ways to think and see things, and how these new ways create new solutions. In his book de Bono's Thinking Course, he describes how our minds get stuck in ruts and patterns and how these patterns can impede progress and innovation. To get us out of these ruts, an important mechanism is humor.
Daniel Goleman, in his best-selling Emotional Intelligence is giving intelligence a new definition. In this book, he talks about the benefits of a good laugh to solving a problem requiring a creative solution.
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Laughter frees and unchains our minds to think more creatively. All the cobwebs and dust and dead mice are just cleared away. Goleman talks about how mood changes can sway thinking,"[P]eople in good moods have a perceptual bias that leads them to be more expansive and positive in their thinking.” He also says this good mood makes one more likely to be more adventurous or take more risks. We know that creative solutions require the presence of the adventurer and the risk-taker. Laughter brings good moods; laughter brings creativity.
Giggles, The Social Glue
Still another gift — laughter improves collaboration. Konrad Lorenz in On Aggression says, “Heartily laughing together at the same thing forms an immediate bond.” Laughter connects us with other people. Corporate magician Danny Archer says, "When a magician performs, the audience and the magician are in a unique situation, because the magician’s job is to fool the audience and nobody likes to be a fool or be fooled. That's why many magicians use humor and laughter to help break down the barrier between them and the audience”. Laughter brings people together.
Edd, a professional comic, says that in the beginning of the evening in a comedy club, one sees a whole crowd of strangers. By the end of the evening, the audience has come together as a group. If that is true with a group of strangers, imagine the teambuilding effect of laughter on a group of people that work together. Perhaps the best teambuilding exercise of all is to get people to laugh together.
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Take Laughter To School
Finally, the last gift of laughter we will put forth (there are many more) is the acceleration of learning. When content is presented along with laughter, it is more easily learned and is usually remembered for a longer time afterwards than something learned in a serious presentation.
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Laughter makes information memorable. When we give keynote addresses, we usually have seven points to remember about the topic; topics include civility, achieving excellence, performance evaluations, listening. We often have people tell us long after the presentation that they remember all the points that were included. Why? Because these programs make people laugh out loud. The points are illustrated in humorous ways that cause laughter and that shoot those points right into people’s memories.
All these gifts brought to us by laughter. So you see why we say laughter has great, sacred, and astounding power. And why we say it should be honored and celebrated. What more could we want than happy, healthy, relaxed, creative people, working and playing together? This thing called laughter brings forth all that is necessary for a good life. Why would it not be honored and sought and respected?
Laughism, The Prejudice Against Laughter
Well, it seems we often seek and give attention to its opposite. Look at all the books and programs and articles about grief and depression and addiction and relationships gone bad - need I go on? The list makes us sad. We see many fewer books on joy and laughter.
Silly, silly, because laughter would help in the achievement of goals. As we saw, it improves health and creativity and collaboration, and reduces stress. Why is it not sought as an ally in achieving goals? Bad mistake, leaving laughter out.
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Many people even seem to have a prejudice against laughter. They frown at mirthful people and urge them to “get serious.” What a thing to say to a person. Might as well say “get sick.” Laughter is often subdued, suppressed and oppressed. In our society we see sexism, racism and laughism.
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The person in the Comic Zone is rich with these extraordinary, wonderful, superb gifts of laugher. He or she has a high laughter quotient. You have read about the two Zones and the fortunes of the Comic Zone. For those of you who want to claim the Comic Zone and all its treasures, we will now show you how. Here we go with the first of the two Merry Maxims.
©Copyright 2001 Stephanie West Allen, Edd Nichols