Thursday, October 25, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Humor adds to brain growth in kids! Check out this article!
HealthWatch: Stanford Study Shows How Humor Activates Child’s Brain « CBS San Francisco
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Thursday, September 27, 2012
So many people associate humor with joke telling! And although I do numerous presentations on brain health and humor, I am not really a "joke teller". My humor style is usually slight exaggeration, comparisons and gentle teasing. But the pressure to at least try to tell jokes got to me one day. I had an important meeting to conduct for about 60 people and I decided that I would start with a joke.
After much practice, just to be sure that I remembered the punch line, I was ready. I got up to the microphone and welcomed people, thanking them for being there. And I told my joke. There were a few groans and some embarrassed laughter. I was kind of frustrated because my joke seemed to have bombed. After the meeting, I asked my good friend why she thought the joke did not go very well. Somewhat sheepishly she looked at me and asked me if I knew that the joke had a sexual innuendo and was kind of naughty. I did not! Those that know me will realize that I have never "gotten" those kind of jokes. I can only blame this inexperience on my 12 years in Catholic schools. I still cannot believe that I was so naive, but the real problem is that I really still do not understand the hidden sexual meaning in this joke!
To this day, I remember cringing whenever I thought I saw someone from that meeting. However, as with most of our life challenges, this story has served me well by becoming a great example in my workshops, of what NOT to do when trying to incorporate more humor in life.
The ability to tell jokes is a valued skill, but the ability to share humergy (the energy that comes from having a sense of humor) is even more important. For more information on the benefits of humor, humergy and how to purposefully incorporate more humor in your life, check out my web site, Humor Quest and my book, Using Humor to Maximize Living.
Friday, September 14, 2012
After quite a bit of laughter with my daughter (her mom), I believe that I too want to be a tap-dancing gypsy when I grow up. I love to dance and move and hope that I can always enjoy the activity that comes to express joyful energy. I also know it is a powerful way to keep the brain engaged when the body is moving and active. So the tap-dancing sounds like something that I would like to try someday.
Traveling like a gypsy and wandering around in a rather random pattern is a way that my husband and I like to travel sometimes. It is exciting to find adventure in new places and meet new people. Our favorite travel experiences have come from chatting with folks along the way…asking for their recommendations of places to explore in the area. Of course we always ask for the hometown restaurants that they enjoy.
If you are familiar with my books and web site, you know that I believe that play is critical for optimal health and well being for the brain. Play keeps the brain active and engaged. Joyful play is essential for lifelong learning with humergy (the energy that comes from optimism, joy and humor).
My granddaughter’s goals are mine too. I really never do want to “grow up”. I want to continue to do cartwheels, swing at the park and use the hula-hoop. And a tap-dancing gypsy sounds like an amazing and fun goal.
Monday, June 4, 2012
- Notice what makes you laugh and keep a journal of the funny things that happen each day.
- Hang out with optimistic and joyful people. Avoid humordoomers.
- Practice laughing out loud. Choose funny movies, books and television shows.
- Engage in healthy humor practices.
- Observe your humor style. Notice what kind of humor you prefer-puns, jokes, stories or slapstick.
- Read my book, Using Humor to Maximize Living!
Sunday, May 13, 2012
This article helped me reflect on my own experiences as a mom. Most of the time I loved being a mother to four amazing kids. I remember rocking my infants and looking with wonder at these tiny miracles of life. However, there were also times when I wondered if I was going to survive the stressful challenges of balancing work and family. How could I possibly provide each of them what they needed from me. Often I struggled with trying to figure out exactly what they needed. Those days are a distant memory and yet I know that I learned so much from my experience as a mother.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
One of the questions is "How do you play?", and it gets the same puzzled inquiry each time. There seems to be a common belief that play is only for children. Yet play is critical for both children and adults according to Stuart Brown who wrote the book, " Play". In his TEDx video Play Is More Than Fun. he provides the rationale for play. It is not just joyful and energizing, it is integral to human development and intelligence. He has found that with enough play, the brain works better. Without play, life is a grinding and mechanical process organized around survival according to Brown.
Most early childhood educators realize the critical importance of play for young children. Children learn through play. Of all of the species, humans engage in the longest period of developmental play: and that length of play contributes to our level of intelligence. The research is quite clear about the importance of play for children. This is explored by Joan Almon in The Vital Role of Play in Early Childhood Education. I have written in the past about concerns on the current focus in education on assessment and accountability as undermining the importance of this research on play. This issue extends to the lack of play and fun in the adult world.
The opposite of play is not work--it is depression according to Brown. And stress and depression are saturating our world today. As usual at this workshop, I saw a lot of puzzled looks and fielded several questions asking what I meant by by the question about how they "play".
What did you enjoy as a child? Include these activities in your life again. Do a skip or jump, ride a bike, fly a kite, shoot marbles, play hopscotch, use the hula hoop. Try new games, and purposefully add unexpected fun into your life. Constantly seek to be with those who are full of joyful energy and avoid the humordoomers -those folks who can suck the energy right out of you.
One lady who lived to be 100 said the reason that she lived that long is that that she jumped every day. I encourage you to jump for joy and increase the play in your life. How do you play? Let me know!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
There is fascinating research on the impact of mirror neurons on our ability to socialize and learn. At all stages we mirror the expressions and actions of those we are in relationship with. The universal practice of parents actively eliciting smiles and laughter is a great example of mirror neurons at work (or at play!). Isaiah is our youngest grandchild. His siblings and cousins have smothered him with kisses, hugs and laughter. At 4 weeks he was smiling and responding to their repeated attempts to get him to smile. If you use these same smiling techniques in your everyday life, smiling at strangers, laughing with your family, you will discover these mirror neurons at work. Of course the opposite is true. Negativity and frowns also stimulate the mirror neurons. Purposeful use of smiling and laughter can stimulate the positive energy that is possible through mirror neuron activation.
Laughter yoga groups have become popular in the past few years. These groups were initiated by Dr. Madan Kataria from India who felt that laughter could add to a healthy lifestyle. Research does show that laughter stimulates the release of endorphins and reduces stress.
Next week I will have the privilege of teaching a 3 hour graduate humor studies class called the Humor Academy at the international AATH (Association for Applied and Therapuetic Humor) conference in Chicago. This conference brings together an amazing group of professionals who are dedicated to sharing healthy humor and laughter. People who walk by the doors of our conference sessions always comment that it sure sounds like a lot of fun. The laughter flows spills out from the rooms and into the hallways. Do consider joining us April 19-22 at the beautiful O Hare Westin hotel! CE credits are available for nurses, social workers, counselors, and teachers. Registration is on line at http://www.aath.org/annual-conference
If you want to reduce stress, add some laughter and experience your mirror neurons at work-do join us! I promise the mirror on your wall will reflect your reduced stress and increased humergy.
Monday, March 26, 2012
"Can you come give a talk to our group? We really need a laugh. " So often when I am invited to speak, there is an expectation that I will tell jokes. The truth is that I do not really tell "jokes", although I usually do get quite a bit of laughter from the audience. Why do people think that humor means telling jokes? There seems to be a bit of confusion about what humor really is.
Humergy is first described by me in my book, Using Humor to Maximize Learning
Humergy is the energy that emerges from the joy and optimism of the inner spirit, reflecting a unique personality, and nourishing a healthy mind/body balance.
This term was coined as a response to the confusion that I frequently face about what humor is. A sense of humor can create a remarkable feeling of control. Learning to use humor as the binoculars for life’s challenges can amplify confidence in your own internal power to cope. The optimistic energy that comes from humor will enable you to embrace difficulties with resilience. Some people purposefully use laughter to ease pain and promote physical healing. There is some experimental research indicating that laughter and humor might actually cure illness and provide effective therapies for a number of disorders. Some claim that laughter relieves pain, reduces stress, and improves the immune system response (Harvey, 1998). Although many studies are preliminary, numerous indicators are confirming the benefits and applications of positive humor.
The purposeful use of humor can help you feel more optimistic about your life, knowing that you can choose how to respond to stress. Humor elevates mood and has been known to be a deterrent to depression. Stress reduction is considered one of the most important benefits of humor. A little humor will go a long way in helping us balance the challenges of high-speed living.
So find your humergy. It may be that telling jokes is the way that you do find this quality. For the rest of us, I encourage the purposeful use of humergy practice. My book identfies countless ways for the practice of humergy.
One way is to focus on what makes you laugh and brings you joy? Follow this reflection with purposeful intention to increase the humergy in your life. Let me know what you are going to try. I would love to hear from you!
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Sunday, March 4, 2012
After years of being treated like a non-entity, humor is finally getting a glimmer of recognition as being a significant factor in learning. I was thrilled to see a reference to my book, Using Humor to Maximize Learning in this week’s education page of the Washington Post. Unfortunately, humor is not quite yet a part of the mainstream media in education. We need to continue to share the research from the field of neuroscience on the impact that humor can have on learning.
Students and teachers are under enormous pressure to improve test scores, with an increasingly greater focus on a basing teacher evaluation on student scores. Diane Ravitch highlights these issues in an article in “The New York Review of Books”.
"Like George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program is part of what Pasi Sahlberg calls “the Global Education Reform Movement,” or GERM. GERM demands teaching to the test. GERM assumes that students must be constantly tested, and that the results of these tests are the most important measures and outcomes of education. The scores can be used not only to grade the quality of every school, but also to punish or reward students, teachers, principals, and schools. Those at the top of the education system, the elected officials and leaders who make the rules, create the budgets, and allocate resources, are never accountable for the consequences of their decisions. GERM assumes that people who work in schools need carrots and sticks to persuade (or compel) them to do their best".
There is a misconception that providing incentives ( like more money) will be a motivator for teachers to improve their teaching. The fact of the matter is that most teachers teach because they love teaching and they believe they are making a difference in the lives of kids. AND they teach because they believe that learning is exciting, energizing and fun. After I provide workshops on humor and stress, numerous teachers tell me that they are infusing humor into their teaching every day. Many express gratitude not only for the permission, but for the encouragement to increase the use of humor in their classroom. They appreciate the research that the use of humor can indeed facilitate the learning process.
It is heartwarming to read that my book on humor is making the mainstream media.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
So excited that the press release that I wrote for the AATH conference, The Neuroscience of Humor and Education: A Focus at the AATH Conference is hitting the news media outlets in Chicago. This conference takes hours of volunteer planning time and incredible energy by the dedicated members of this humor organization. It is a joy to work with them. I cannot begin to tell you all I have learned from members of this fantastic organization.