Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Have a Ball and Beat the Heat

Have a Ball and Beat the Heat
By Brenda Black

Lucille Ball once said, “I'm not funny. What I am is brave.” I understand what she meant because it took every ounce of nerve I had one time to portray the Queen of Comedy. With hair tinted red, piled and pinned in an up do, I not-so-gracefully danced my way into a chorus line of high school girls during a variety show. In a blue polka dot dress, I mimicked Lucy's exaggerated antics darting among the youthful, practiced performers, a half-beat behind and having a blast. The reward for my bravery was hearty roars of hilarity from the audience. Ball knew that to make people laugh took a lot of hard work. I learned it was worth the humiliating stunts to hear such a delightful sound.

Laughter is good medicine, from belly chuckles of tiny children to bellowing cackles of good ol' boys. Wise old Solomon even once said, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:13) From the experts who take laughing quite seriously, there is ample evidence that laughter is beneficial not only for the spirit, but for mind, body and your social life.

According to an article by Melinda Smith, M.A., Gina Kemp, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. - “Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.”

Tickle your funny bone if you want to feel better – Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter boosts the immune system by decreasing stress hormones. The shortest distance to the body's feel-good chemicals, endorphins, is paved with giggles. And nothing circulates blood like a big guffaw.

A good crack-up can keep you from becoming a crack-pot. For excellent mental health, humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments or losses. Jokes add joy and zest to life. Silliness eases stress, anxiety and fear and enhances resilience. An upturned face provides more than a face lift. It improves mood on the inside and will keep you from going mad, literally.

So – you think you can laugh! Chances are, if you are a laugher, more people will want to hang around you. Laughter dissolves distressing emotions, it heightens energy and actually can make you more productive. Socially, laughter knocks down walls of inferiority. With a humorous perspective, everything and everyone seems less intimidating. Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created.

Right now, as we melt into the dog days of summer, is as good a time as any to beat the heat with a little comic relief. Watch something funny. Seek out funny people. Goof around with your kids. Count your blessings and smile every chance you get. To jump start your laugh track, here's a pool-side joke to give you a break from hundred degree, hot, humid air and heated campaign races this week.

A CEO throwing a party takes his executives on a tour of his opulent mansion. In the back of the property, the CEO has the largest swimming pool any of them has ever seen.

The huge pool, however, is filled with hungry alligators.

The CEO says to his executives "I think an executive should be measured by courage. Courage is what made me CEO. So this is my challenge to each of you: if anyone has enough courage to dive into the pool, swim through those alligators, and make it to the other side, I will give that person anything they desire. My job, my money, my house, anything!"

Everyone laughs at the outrageous offer and proceeds to follow the CEO on the tour of the estate. Suddenly, they hear a loud splash. Everyone turns around and sees the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) in the pool, swimming for his life. He dodges the alligators left and right and makes it to the edge of the pool with seconds to spare. He pulls himself out just as a huge alligator snaps at his shoes.

The flabbergasted CEO approaches the CFO and says, "You are amazing. I've never seen anything like it in my life. You are brave beyond measure and anything I own is yours! Tell me what I can do for you.

The CFO, panting for breath, looks up and says, "You can tell me who pushed me in the pool!"

Still not laughing? Then I dare you to dye your hair red and pull a little slap stick somewhere today, in honor of Lucille Ball's birthday, Aug. 6. Even if you don't make others laugh, you'll learn how to laugh at yourself.

1 comment:

chatobstewart said...

I love the pool joke... I am a huge fan of using humor as a healthy coping skill. I'm the cartoonist for Mental Health Humor. I use humor about living with a mental illness. It's not just for coping but it also can open doors for people to learn about different disorders in a positive light.