Archive for August, 2015

Laugh Or Go Insane!

August 27, 2015

The above title is from a quote by Robert Frost; the entire quote is “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I’ve always been a huge believer in the healing power of humor, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot more about its importance in a world that seems to be full of anger.

You may think that in times of conflict and crisis, there is no place for levity. If that’s what you think, you may want to think again! Laughter is one of the greatest tools we have in battling disappointment, discouragement and fear. Mark Twain said, “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

Let’s take a look at the nature of laughter…what it really is and how it affects our bodies and minds. Gelotology is actually the science of the effects of laughter on the body. The word comes from the Greek gelos, meaning ….you guessed it….laughter. When you laugh, you are setting off a chain of healthy reactions inside of you. Endorphins are released, oxygen intake increases, blood pressure goes down, and you just feel better!  It’s no wonder, because MRI scans show that when we laugh, multiple areas of our brains light up. Medical science recognizes that laughter is good for the body and the spirit.

There is a fine line between laughter and pain and sometimes it seems that we laugh at seemingly inappropriate times. Laughter is the ultimate coping mechanism. It allows us to break through the tension and look at things with a different perspective. Many of the most famous comedy teams came together during the WWII and the Great Depression. People need a break from stress and crisis, and laughter provides that much needed respite. When the tension mounts, there has to be a release valve or we’ll blow up! You’ve probably heard the expression, “I laughed until I cried.” Or perhaps you’ve heard it the other way around. The emotional cycle can be like a snake eating its own tail. You laugh until you cry and you cry until you laugh…they are both essential for emotional survival and stability.

Laughter can be a valuable tool in recovering from an emotional shock or trauma. We sometimes have difficulty breaking out of the cycle of negativity and we become emotionally paralyzed. If we keep some humor in our lives, it can help us facilitate our healing and regain the joy of living.

It may seem irreverent and disrespectful to think about laughing when the world is in such a state of chaos. But just the opposite is true! Negativity breeds negativity and positivity is contagious. We can’t help a bad situation by dwelling on its hopelessness, but we can do a lot of good for ourselves and other people, if we refuse to honor the bad stuff! We can switch mental channels and look for ways to turn negatives into positives.

But how do we find joy in times of intense stress? Don’t let finding ways to add levity to your life stress you out even more! Just try to take yourself less seriously. Go back to your childhood and find the elf in yoursELF. Buy yourself a coloring book and crayons, blow some bubbles, get some Play-dough, decorate your work environment with things that remind you of happy times and make you laugh. Rent a comedy movie. I have a fun file in which I keep cartoons, funny pictures and other things that can break my negative mood. It really doesn’t take much, if you really want to do it! Don’t be afraid of appearing childish and frivolous; clearing your mind of negative thoughts allows more room in there for possibilities! Oh…and if you really can’t find anything about which you can laugh, contact me and I’ll send you a picture of myself in a swimsuit. That will do it!

Laughter doesn’t make everything better for us, but it sure makes us better for everything. It has been said that laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. Don’t let the woes of the world keep your soul off of the dance floor!

What Roles Have You Chosen to Play?

August 19, 2015

In a recent workshop, I asked the attendees to think about some of the roles they play in their relationships; personal and professional. The resulting discussion was very interesting and also very revealing.

We all have chosen to play certain roles in our relationships, and we have fallen into those roles for various reasons. If everyone in any relationship is satisfied with the arrangement and it works for all concerned, there is no problem. But if someone feels compromised or less than satisfied with the way things work, it’s probably not healthy and sooner or later, something’s got to give!

Here are some of the relationship roles that people in the workshop listed as problematic. Read them and decide if any of them are familiar to you:

The Enabler: Has a strong need to take care of and please other people, allowing them to get away with negative or abusive behavior. It is easy to become addicted to approval and that is a sure path to low self-esteem.

The Excuse Giver: Woe be unto those who are in a relationship with one who plays the Excuse Card on a regular basis. This person has a well-stocked pantry of reasons why he did or did not or is not able to do something. The Excuse Giver is always well prepared and hones his craft diligently.

The Bully: Sadly, the world will always have bullies. They are Mr. or Mrs. Bossy-Pants and try to establish their leadership through intimidation and being mean-spirited.

The Whiner: When a whiner is in the mix, there is a constant need to call a Waaaaambulance! No relationship is enhanced by someone who consistently contributes to Global Whining!

The Rescuer/Fixer: Inadvertently keeps other people in a dependent position. When we rush in to be someone’s savior, we are sending a message that the other person is not capable of managing his own affairs. When someone constantly arrives to make everything OK for another person, the fixer is depriving him of being accountable for his own life and well-being. Serial rescuers need to take a look at their own motives for their actions and make sure they are not allowing their egos to dictate their behavior.

The Enforcer: Plays the role of “policeman” by monitoring other people’s actions. Unless the relationship involves a minor child, the enforcer needs to stay in a Clint Eastwood movie!

The Punisher: Tries to make other people stay in line by manipulation and threats. We all know these people! These are the ones who make you feel as if you will pay the price if you don’t do what they say! It can run the gamut from the silent treatment to payback!

The Guilt-Giver: Gives guilt; the gift that keeps on giving! If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who acts as a travel agent for guilt trips, you know what it’s like!

The Martyr: Risks his or her own mental or physical health while putting everyone else’s needs ahead of his or her own. There are no medals given for being a martyr and anyone who plays this role in a relationship should realize that when someone drops from taking on everyone else’s responsibilities…people usually just say things like, “Wow, she should have taken better care of herself!”

Throughout life, we all search for our place in our relationships and hopefully, choose more positive roles than those mentioned above. If you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions, you may want to reassess your role choices. We also occasionally encounter people with whom we work or socialize that fill some of those less than desirable roles. We can’t change other people…unless they are in diapers…but we can choose how we deal with them. Choose Wisely!

Drop In To See what Condition Your Condition Is In

August 12, 2015

There was a song in the sixties with the lyrics “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.” I can’t even tell you what that meant, but I think it is a pretty good phrase to remind us to slow down every now and then and take stock of what’s going on in our brains.

Just today, I heard several people make comments about how they were so stressed, they couldn’t even think straight. One said that she keeps forgetting things because her brain is so full of “stuff.” I’m guessing that most of us can relate to that feeling. Sometimes, my brain feels like spaghetti…I can’t separate one thought from the next. I like spaghetti. See? I can’t stay with one thought!

In this age of technology; our brains are receiving so much information every day, it sometimes leads to sensory overload. Add to that; the pressures of daily life and the fact that everywhere we turn there is a news broadcast, magazine headline or YouTube video that we are trying to process and it’s no wonder that sometimes we just short out!

If you are noticing that you’re feeling short tempered, impatient, forgetful, or just find yourself staring into space and mumbling incoherently (maybe that’s just me) maybe it’s time to shut down for a moment and consider what’s going on. I think people used to do that in the olden days…when I was young.

If your electronic device isn’t functioning at optimum level, you get it checked out. If your car starts acting sluggish, you take it in to see what’s wrong. Doesn’t your brain deserve the same respect? There are no medals handed out for exploding or imploding mentally! All of us should be on talking terms with our emotions and occasionally drop in to see what condition our condition is in.

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and trainer. Visit her website at