02/01/2014

Laughing and Learning in Career Services

By Robin Salyer Fleischer

Laughter therapy based on known scientific findings from Gelotology and Positive Psychology promotes mirthful laughter as light physical exercise that contributes to our overall mental well-being and is a widely accessible health option. The principles behind laughter therapy can be applied in communities such as schools and workplaces as a form of social glue: people who laugh together work together better. Some research can date the use of humor and laughter back 5000 years to Tibetan Buddhist laughter practices. So, laughter for our self is not only practical and positive as a health benefit, but as a concept, it offers something new and different to our clients and audiences.

 

Laughter Benefits:

  • Increases endorphins, strengthens immune system - Laughter will create a ‘runner’s high’ and even just anticipating something funny increase anti-viral, anti-tumor defenses reports Dr. Lee Berk of the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University.

  • Burns calories, increases heart rate

  • Increases job satisfaction - Laughter improves communication, creativity and overall performance in the workplace says Dr. Chris Robert, a psychology professor and researcher with the University of Missouri.

  • Increases hope and self-worth - Watching 15 minutes of a comedy show can alleviate worries about health, career, or future plans according to Dr. David Rose a psychologist with Texas A & M.

  • Protects against heart disease - The old saying that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ appears to be true as laughter dilates the blood vessels so blood flows more freely and is a significant positive addition to standard cardiac rehabilitation.

  • Eliminates ‘us versus them’ thinking - Comedy makes us more ‘inclusive of others’; happiness and humor reduce narrow-minded perspectives says University of Michigan psychology researcher Kareem Johnson. Laughing brings people together and this strengthens our relationships whether we are at home, work, or school.

  • Improves counseling sessions - Counselors who laugh with their clients increase their feelings of connection and bonding reports Dr. Carl Marci, director of Social Neuroscience at the Massachusetts General Hospital; it fosters trust, rapport and reduced defensiveness.

  • Helps kids tolerate pain.

 

Good-Hearted Living

Steve Wilson, licensed psychologist, author, professional speaker, humor educator, and founder of the World Laughter Tour, has also developed a system of six simple practices that help when stress and tension may interfere with ‘laughing’! Called Good-Hearted Living it helps to bring therapeutic benefits of laughter within your reach. When Steve drew upon his work as a psychologist, he recognized that attitudes were a more important stress factor than actual events. By combining these daily practices (figuratively more than literally) one counteracts stress and opens oneself up to more laughter!

To prevent hardening of the attitudes and to add more laughter to one’s life:

  • Monday: Compliments - Look for the good in others and pay genuine compliments

  • Tuesday: Flexibility - Break out of a rut and try something new; be open and be flexible

  • Wednesday: Gratitude - Be thankful for what you have; for bad things that didn’t happen; cultivate an attitude of gratitude

  • Thursday: Kindness - Do small things to make another person’s life a little easier

  • Friday: Forgiveness - Let go of grudges, resentments; release the anger and be forgiving

  • Weekend: Chocolate (Rest, Recreation, Relaxation) - For the weekend, restore whatever brings you pleasure! Engage in playfulness and relax; do the things that makes life ‘sweet’ to for you, i.e., ‘chocolate’.

 

 

Resources:

A 2-day, accredited Certified Laughter workshop through World Laughter Tour teaches practical, cost-effective applications of therapeutic laughter for mental and physical well-being. The program is held in various locations throughout the U.S. and Canada and is also offered as a distance course.

Training in Therapeutic Laughter, including the Certified Laughter Leader designation is also taught as a 3-credit course at Columbus State Community College, Columbus, Ohio.

The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor [AATH] is a clearinghouse for all things related to healthy and positive humor. AATH was created to be a clearinghouse for information on humor and laughter as they relate to well-being. The organization disseminates information about humor and laughter to its members through regular publications and educational opportunities such as the Humor Academy. AATH also develops, promotes, conducts, and identifies the need for research that further investigates the roles humor and laughter play in well-being. Visit their website for details about the annual conference, http://www.aath.org/

 

 


 

 

Robin Salyer FleischerRobin Salyer Fleischer, M.S.Ed., National Certified Counselor, Master Career Counselor, Distance Credentialed Counselor, has 12 years of higher education experience in career services and a private practice for three years in Lexington, KY, under Robin S. Fleischer Counseling, LLC. She also serves a Career Coach for Modern Guild, and serves on various boards in leadership roles such as Kentucky Career Development Association, her local YMCA, and the Commerce Lexington Youth Leadership Program. Robin is currently completing a Certified Laughter Leader (CLL) program. Some of the things that inspire her include: traveling, gardening, finding & eating at fun restaurants, dogs & animals, the beach, positivity, family & friends, and of course, laughter! She can be reached at robin.fleischer@twc.com or visit http://www.worldlaughtertour.com/


4 Comments

Diane Schmidt on Sunday 02/02/2014 at 11:29PM wrote:

Great article, Robin! I have recommended to my career coaching clients that they spend some time watching or doing something each day that makes them laugh as a part of their self-care regimen. Laughter is a low cost therapy. Thanks for talking about this important therapy!

Robin Salyer Fleischer on Monday 02/03/2014 at 11:06AM wrote:

Thank you Diane!
Laughter programs, workshops, and even on a daily routine as you mention, can be implemented at low cost! In the U.S., when unemployment is a significant social issue at a time when, according to estimates, 4.1 million Americans in the labor market have been unemployed for more than six months, there can be such a personal toll on mental and physical health, laughter can be a REAL benefit! :)

Karen Kowal on Monday 02/03/2014 at 03:01PM wrote:

Robin,
What a great article! Thank you for weaving this message into the Career Counceling profession. AND good for you getting a CLL certification.

Nancy J. Miller on Monday 12/15/2014 at 11:29AM wrote:

I am pleased to see your article, Robin. Health, destress, leisure, and laughter are so important for everyone. Workers are experiencing unhealthy stress from overwork and those unemployed experience many symptoms from uncertainty, lowering self-esteem, and financial concerns. Laughter is fast, fun, and easily shared. I told Janet Wall that healthy lifestyle was not a popular topic with career professionals when I recorded a CEU webinar on the topic. I am pleased to see it is getting the attention it deserves. Thank you for this well written article.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the
individual comment authors and do not reflect the opinions of this organization.

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