#023 - If you find that there are too few laughs in your day, then you need to practice laughter. You don't get better all by yourself without practice. Join Dr. Charles Boyer for a session on adding more laughter to your day.
Hello and welcome to Keys for New Leaders, a podcast for YOU, the new or newer leader who leads by serving others. This is your host, Dr. Charles Boyer, but my friends call me Charlie. If you’re new to the podcast, welcome from wherever you are listening in. Please hit the subscribe button on your audio program to get notices of new episodes. If you’re joining us again, welcome back, my friend. As in previous podcasts, I’ll ask you three questions toward the end of this episode. It’s not a test. These are open-ended questions to give you a gentle challenge to apply what we’ve talked about during the episode. By the way, my email is working again - finally. I recently discovered that it was out of commission for some reason, but it is all right now. If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions, you are welcome to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Episode 23, FOOD FOR YOUR FUNNYBONE. I always read the funnies in the paper each morning to start my day with a smile and a chuckle or two. Sometimes those cartoons are the only things in the paper that aren’t depressing or disgusting. A few days ago, Hank Ketchum’s Dennis the Menace said, “Laughter is the best medicine. It doesn’t cost anything … and it doesn’t taste yucky.” Spot on, Dennis!
And then, a few days later, someone asked me, “What do you do for fun?” When I had to stop and think about it for a minute or two, that told me that it was time for a few more laughs in my life. Time to lighten the load and add some joy.
A previous episode (#13) of this podcast is called “Laugh Power.” When I checked the stats, that episode has had far more downloads than any other episode. That tells me that I’m not the only one who needs a good laugh these days. Join the club, my friend!
Now, to be clear, doing these podcasts is fun for me, yet it’s a bit of work-fun. It takes a bit of work to put one of these episodes together, record and edit it, and then publish it. The work is fun or I wouldn’t want to do it for very long. But what most of us need these days is not just work-fun but a little more fun-fun. Let me ask you, what do you really like to do? What puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step? Time to feed that funnybone, my friend.
One of the best books I’ve run across recently is one by Rev. Susan Sparks, titled, “Laugh Your Way to Grace.” It’s a quick read yet it packs a wallop. I just finished re-reading it and enjoyed it even more the second time around. Rev. Sparks is a former trial lawyer, stand-up comedian, and an ordained minister. Now, with credentials like those, how can you miss? She wrote, “Laughter is the gift that you receive at birth, the one thing you were able to do freely when your age was in the single digits, the gift that may fade but never fully disappears.”
Couple that with a report that children tend to laugh about 400 times a day, and adults laugh fewer than 15, and you begin to understand why Dr. Seuss said that adults are merely obsolete children.
Rev. Sparks also introduced me to a new word, one I’ve never encountered before. I had to look in four different dictionaries before I found it. I wanted to make sure it was a real word before I included it in this podcast. The word is “geliophobia” (pronounced jeel-i-o-pho-bi-a) (spelled g-e-l-i-o-p-h-o-b-i-a) and it means a fear of laughter. Strange word for a strange fear! So, to paraphrase an old, old song, “Pack up your geliophobia in your old kit bag, and laugh, laugh, laugh.”
If you find that there are too few laughs in your day, then you need to practice laughter. It’s no different than practicing anything else – yoga, exercise, meditation, your golf swing, the piano. You don’t get better all by yourself without practice.
Read some funny quotes to warm up. Some are funny just because they don’t make sense. Some are funny because they DO make sense. Listen to a couple of these to limber up your funnybone:
Baseball legend Yogi Berra was famous for his nonsense quotes that seemed to make sense to him, such as “You gotta be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” Or the travel directions he gave: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Comedian Groucho Marx had a sharp wit and usually a ready quip for just about any occasion. One of his many head-scratchers was this one: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
Senator Barry Goldwater, when visiting a very restrictive golf club where they wouldn’t admit Jewish people, he asked, “I’m only half Jewish. Can I play nine holes?”
Joseph Heller wrote “Insanity is Contagious” and then someone else added “You catch it from your kids.”
Oscar Wilde wrote, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Good advice. Be yourself. If reading quips and quotes isn’t your thing, try listening to some TV sitcoms with their laughtracks. Personally, I don’t like those laughtracks, but they work. Hearing others laugh makes us want to join in, too.
Look for that silver lining in every cloud. Sometimes we have to create our own laughs, and everyone is different. What ways have YOU found to create YOUR laughs? Here are a few suggestions that work for me:
· Watch a funny movie. Some of the old Hollywood musicals and comedies are gold mines of good laughs – and without laughtracks.
· Collect funny sayings, jokes or stories, and then share them with a small group of good friends. And laugh a lot in the process.
· Spend time playing with a pet. It’s fun, sometimes a barrel of laughs, and the pets love your attention.
· Hang out with people who love to laugh. Laughter is contagious.
· “Ac – Cen – Tu – Ate the Positive” says the old Johnny Mercer-Harold Arlen song … and it really does work. If you look for the positive, you’ll find it.
· Smile – and Laugh. Stand in front of a mirror, all alone, and smile at yourself. Then, laugh. Just laugh, and listen to the sound of YOU laughing. How does it feel to you? Awkward? Hey, get over yourself and just laugh.
Laughter is indeed good medicine. Some of the physical benefits are that laughter relaxes the whole body. Pay attention to how you feel, how relaxed you feel after your next big laugh. Not only are you more relaxed, your laughter triggers the release of endorphins and increases the blood flow to your vital organs.
Laughter eases anxiety and tension, strengthens your resilience, plus adding joy to your life. Laughter helps defuse conflict and enhances teamwork by drawing you closer to others. Laughter is a source of creativity. And, best of all, when listening to another person, you can’t multitask and laugh at the same time. You need to be fully listening to laugh with someone.
So, why so glum, chum? Look at all the good things laughing can do for you. Rev. Sparks wrote that on average, a person laughs for six minutes a day, but complains for eight. Something’s wrong here. Let’s add more laughter to each day. We’ll all be the better for it.
We’re funny people who take ourselves far too seriously. I remember the favorite expression of a former colleague who said his favorite thing to do was to “poke holes in pomposity” and he was good at it! He wasn’t mean about it, but he could sure let the air out of an old windbag. He was a master at getting people to laugh – with him and at themselves. Notice those words – laugh with him, and laugh at themselves. Laugh with others, not at them.
We’re funny people who do funny things. You know, there are some people who pay lots of money for cosmetics and treatments to get rid of laugh lines. Now, when you think about it, how funny is that?
And – we get upset needlessly over trivial things:
· Standing in line. My Dad was one of the champions of NOT standing in line – for anything, any time, anywhere. He said it came from his days in the Navy, and it stayed with him all his life. And I laugh!
· Getting ahead of everyone else on the road. What’s it like in your city? I think people here learned to drive at the Roller Derby the way they weave in and out so they can get to the next stoplight first. I usually catch up with them before the light changes. And I laugh!
· A malfunctioning appliance. My friend, Bob, used to call such happenings “…the natural perversity of inanimate objects…” The other morning, my coffee pot quit working, and I didn’t get my morning two mugs of coffee. Now wait a minute – that wasn’t funny at all! And I DIDN’T LAUGH!
Funny things happen all the time, sometimes when you least expect it. Treasure those moments! Recently, I was playing some singalong music at a memory care facility and introduced the next song as one that was recorded by Elvis, thinking that the residents might remember who Elvis was. One resident called out “Elvis who?” so I politely said “it was Elvis Presley.” The gentleman, with a twinkle in his eye, said, “that was a joke!” and we all had a good laugh. That funny man who was losing his memory could still crack a joke!
Some years ago, we visited our family in Texas, and took along a set of “I Love Lucy” show DVDs. Of course, these programs were filmed in the days before color TV was standard. After we watched several shows, our granddaughter asked so innocently, “Was everybody in black and white back then?” I missed a golden opportunity to tell her that I was so old that I was born before color was invented. Maybe then the grandkids would have believed my story about having a pet dinosaur when I was a boy.
So, there are a few of the many things that have fed my funnybone over the years. How about you? Look for ways to laugh yourself through life. You’ll enjoy the journey ever so much more, my friend!
And now, here are three questions for you to think about and answer for yourself:
1. What do you do for work-fun? And for fun-fun?
2. Think back: How did you feel after your last big laugh?
3. What do YOU do to feed your funnybone?
And that Special Key just has to be the Key of F for Funnybone. Feed your funnybone and it will reward you many times over.
In the next Episode, we’ll talk about “The Dash In Between.” I won’t explain much about it now, but just give some thought to what you want most to be remembered for, and we’ll take it from there.
Until then, take care and stay safe and well, my friend. And be sure to give that Funnybone of yours lots of nourishment!