“Laughter is the best medicine.”
How many of us have heard this saying and lump it in the same category of “proven science” as “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down?”
Go ahead, laugh at it. It’s good for you!
It’s true. Laughing is actually good for your health. It creates connection, it stirs us from the inside out, it even strengthens your immune system. When we look for the laughter in life – whether it’s laughing at a movie, giggling with a friend, or chuckling at ourselves, we can actually put ourselves on the path to improved health, joy, and even purpose.
There are plenty of articles you can google to learn about the health benefits of laughter. A good belly laugh can replenish us emotionally,psychologically, spiritually, and yes, even physically by boosting immunity, combatting stress, and alleviating chronic pain.
I’ll leave you to do the research. You can search the internet, or you can become your own research subject. Laugh and see what happens.
Laughter and Me: A (pretty funny) Story of Survival
Over ten years ago, I had no choice but to become my own research subject. When a coma literally changed my world overnight just after I had received my college acceptance letters, I woke up in a strange, scary new world. I chose to laugh at fear, because the true terror of my situation – a situation that was completely out of my control, as doctors fought to save my life – was too overwhelming to worry over. In a situation that I could do nothing to help, humor was all I had. Humor was my way of finding joy in the cards I was dealt. Once I chose to laugh at my fear, I became larger than it. When I became larger than my fear, I was instantly empowered with a newfound sense of identity.
How did I find humor stuck in the surgical ICU for nearly a year? Oh, to plenty of ways. My brothers and I made up songs. We set up plastic cups in the unit hallways to go “bowling.” We broke out of the unit on thrilling wheelchair “rollercoaster rides.” I also caused a few other antics, which I share in my TEDx Talk.
The Super-Secret Humor Helpers…
But it wasn’t just me who was laughing. Often, it takes others to put a smile on your face in difficult circumstances. And when I was stuck at Columbia Presybterian, I was greeted nearly every day by crazy mimes, clowns playing ukeleles, and friendly hospital staff making lightness where they could. I’ve always wanted to find those people who brightened such dark times and personally thank them.
Who knew I’d be thanking them all this Spring? In Disneyworld?
Little did I know, these generous, kind and hilarious mimes, clowns, musicians, jokesters and the like are certified health professionals! Yes, there is an actual Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, formed in 1987 by Registered Nurse, Alison L. Crane. AATH is non-profit, member driven, international community of humor and laughter professionals and enthusiasts. This amazing organization provides its members the education, cutting-edge resources, and supportive community they need to excel in the practice and promotion of healthy humor. You can even attend their Humor Academy and become a certified AATH professional yourself!
How We Give Thanks Through Humor
Regaining my health fully after 27 surgeries, I’ve been blessed to witness so many full circle moments. I went from an ICU patient longing to be back doing musical theatre, to writing a musical about being a patient and performing it for others who are in hospitals.
I went from dreaming about the day I’d finally eat again to having dreamy slices of pizza whenever I want.
And now, I go from a patient finding hope, and lightness from certified humor professionals, to presenting at their annual conference!
The Best Kept Secret?
It’s no secret that humor is therapeutic, but this conference lets anyone in on healthcare’s best-kept secrets. The AATH conference is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the application and benefits of therapeutic humor. Whether you’re a scholar, psychologist, counselor, nurse, social worker, business executives, human resource managers, teacher, hospital clown, comedian or just curious, this epic weekend is going to be all about incorporating humor into your life and work.
So what is therapeutic humor, exactly? AATH calls it “any intervention that promotes health and wellness by stimulating a playful discovery, expression or appreciation of the absurdity or incongruity of life’s situations.”
A “Serious” Intervention
Intervention? When I think of the word “intervention,” I think of crisis situations, reality shows about rehab, people with consuming addictions, and tense, dramatic confrontations. But, come to think of it, “intervention” is the perfect word to describe therapeutic humor. An intervention jolts us, wakes us up. It stirs something down deep in us that we may not have even known was there.It provides a light not all the way at the end of the tunnel, but beaming from inside of us, burning bright and immediate, in the here and now. Humor is an instantaneous way for us to physically experience our aliveness. And at a time when I thought I could never experience that vivacious lightless with me ever again, the gift of laughter opened rooms that I thought were lost with the innocence of childhood.
Humor shows us not only is it okay to be a kid again, it’s healthy for us! And hey, now you know you can become a certified humor professional, joining a community of other very-adult-and-kid-like professionals who
study, practice, & promote healthy humor & laughter.
Now that’s really something to live, love, jump for joy and laugh about.
See you there! And I’m not joking.
Amy will be presenting at this year’s Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor 27th Annual Conference, The Holiday Inn Orlando, located in the Walt Disney World® Resort,
Humor and laughter professionals from around the world are invited to learn the latest applications and benefits of therapeutic humor presented by field experts. CEU and CME credits will be available for the conference session as well as the one-day Humor Academy sessions. Learn more and register at http://www.aath.org/annual-conference. Catch Amy touring her award-winning one-woman musical,Gutless & Grateful, to theatres, colleges, conferences and organizations nationwide, and in NYC this year. You can also watch her TEDx Talk, , and learn about her mixed media art, speaking, and upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour at www.amyoes.com.