Stressed Out? Try To Laugh About It

The one who laughs… lasts.

The Japanese eat little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans. The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans. The Italian’s drink a lot of red wine and they, too, suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Obviously, I’m teasing. But I want to make a serious point about humor today. In a stressed-out world, humor is absolutely critical.

The International Labor Organization has estimated that work stress costs employers more than 200 billion dollars a year. That’s a huge cost. But one of the cheapest, quickest, and easiest ways to wipe out some of that stress is through the use of humor, because…

=> 1. Humor Is A Stress Reliever.

In fact, humor and stress are incompatible. When you’re laughing, you can’t be all stressed out.

Mark H. McCormick, author of “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School,” says, “Laughing is the most potent, constructive force for diffusing business tension.” And English novelist William Makepeace Thackery wrote, “A good laugh is sunshine in a house.”

My friend, Dr. Bev Smallwood, shared a wonderful story about the stress-busting power of humor. Consulting for a hospital, she talked about a particularly stressful evening for an experienced ER team. The team had dealt with several car accidents, heart attacks, and gun shots all before 8:00 p.m.

Then all of a sudden, a man burst into the emergency room, yelling, “Help! Papa’s not breathing.”

The ER staff rushed to the car where Papa lay in the back seat. Quickly they got him onto a stretcher and rolled him into the trauma room. They worked feverishly, searching in vain for a response from some vital sign. Finally, they realized, Papa could not be revived.

The doctor called the large family together to break the sad news. “We’re very sorry,” the doctor said. “We did all we could. He’s gone.”

Wails went up from the family crowd. Mama’s knees buckled, and as she fell backwards, her two sons caught her. “Oh my God,” she cried. “That’s what they told us at the other hospital too!”

As Dr. Smallwood says, “It gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘second opinion,’ doesn’t it?”

It was a tough night for that ER team. But they learned, once again, through their “Papa experience”, that humor is a great stress reliever. So make sure you’re using this tool at work and at home.

In addition…

=> 2. Humor Is A Healer.

Humor eases physical stress, and that, in turn, promotes health.

Dr. Joel Goodman of the Sagamore Institute says, “People who laugh… last.” So he tells people to “JEST for the health of it.”

I’m seeing more and more hospitals recognize the benefits of humor, for laughter reduces depression, stress, and hypertension. Laughter even relieves headaches, increases respiration, and improves the functioning of the cardiovascular and sympathetic nervous system.

Dr. Jolin A. Schindler concurred. He said if he could get patients into an area of pure joy, for ten minutes a day every day, he could get them well. He could help them live a long life.

Of course, different people define health differently. I read a sign that said, “You know you’re getting old if your definition of getting lucky last night was not having to get up to go to the bathroom.”

So if humor is such a great stress reliever, and if humor is a helpful healer, there’s two things you’ve got to do.

**BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR HUMOR. You can find it everywhere.

Look for humor in our LANGUAGE. There are a lot of funny phrases in our language if you just look for them. For example, what happens if you get “scared half to death — twice?” Or as someone said, “I think ‘animal testing’ is a terrible idea. They get all nervous and give the wrong answers.”

Look for humor in people’s BEHAVIOR. People can be mighty strange and entertaining. I suppose that’s why I never get tired of traveling and speaking for a living. I’m a people watcher.

I sat down next to a man at the airport who was reading the Bible. We struck up a conversation and got on the topic of why some older people really “study” the Bible while others never seem to pick it up. He gave me a most amusing response. He said, “I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older. Then it dawned on me. They were cramming for their finals.”

Look for humor in the RULES we live by. Some are outright silly. Paul Dickson wrote about that in his book, “The Official Rules At Home.”

They included such rules as the following:

* Ballweg’s Discovery – Whenever there is a flat surface, someone will find something to put on it.

* Rabbe’s Rule of the Bedroom – The spouse who snores louder always falls asleep first.

* Dickson’s Gardening Discovery – When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

* Dorothy’s Dilemma – The heavier the package and the farther you have to carry it, the more your nose itches.

* Todd’s Rule of Bar Code Malfunction – The bar code in the checkout line won’t work on items you’re embarrassed to be buying.

* Rosenbaum’s Rule – The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

* Parent’s Law – By the time you’re right, you’re dead.

* Smith’s 4th Law of Inertia – A body at rest tends to watch television.

**Finally, learn to LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

Dr. Meyer Friedman, author of “Treating Type A Behavior And Your Heart,” concluded it was critical. He said, “The person most effectively protecting himself against the continued progress of coronary artery disease is the person willing to see himself and his affairs as ridiculously unimportant in the planetary scheme of things.”

Are you able to laugh at yourself? Comedians are often quite good at it. One comedian said, “I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people didn’t like me anyway.”

The last thing you want to be is “deadly” serious. Learn to laugh at yourself. Phyllis Diller has always been very gifted at that. One time she entered a Las Vegas stage with her arm in a cast. She declared, “I’d like to begin with a public service announcement. If there is anyone here who has just bought the book ‘The Joy Of Sex,’ there is a misprint on page 206.”

Action:  Don’t wait for things to be funny to laugh. Laugh anyway.