Laughter is so important in our lives. Humor obviously is the key to keeping things in perspective. A recent New York Times article discussed the topic of laughter and humor, and the impact it has on our day-to-day living. The article talked about Paul McGhee of Montclair, N.J., who has spent more than 20 years studying humor. Big corporations often seek out McGhee's expertise. That's because executives have become increasingly aware that a sense of humor can impact the bottom line. Many companies now list a sense of humor among the qualities they look for in a job candidate. As a matter of fact, without a sense of humor, I do not see how anyone could stay sane for very long in this world. And that in essence is one of the main messages McGhee stresses.
Look, we all live in a tough world. Downsizing and rightsizing are two of the culprits that have increased stress in many people's lives. People need an escape. McGhee recommends the tonic of humor and laughter to reduce anxiety. Even in cases where individuals are grappling with terminal illnesses, humor can bring about almost miraculous results. The Times article cited the case of the late Norman Cousins, former editor of the Saturday Review, who wrote about the benefits of laughter in his best-selling book, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins faced a degenerative spine disease that made sleep almost impossible. He felt that if negative thoughts had bad effects on people's health, possibly the opposite could occur with laughter and humor. So he proceeded to watch episodes of "Candid Camera" and Marx Brothers films. Cousins soon discovered that "10 minutes of belly laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep," McGhee maintains.
McGhee speaks regularly to all sorts of groups, including executives, emergency personnel, cancer patients and healthcare professionals. He has written 11 books on humor and has seen its miracles firsthand. It happened with his father, Clifford McGhee, who died two years ago after a long illness. It seems Clifford McGhee was a serious man throughout his life. Near the end, he became totally depressed and disconsolate when he was forced to take nutrition through a feeding tube in his stomach. But something wonderful happened when a woman was hired to take care of Clifford McGhee in the final year of his life.
His son tells the story: "Betty was different from the others. She had a lighter, more playful style." For instance, after giving Clifford McGhee a sponge bath, "Betty would say, `We had a good time this morning,' sort of implying there was some hanky-panky going on." Eventually, McGhee even heard his father tell a joke-a rare occurrence-and kid around with a hospital chaplain. McGhee feels that when his father died "he really did seem to be at peace with himself at the end."
Humor, laughter and smiling make all the difference in the world. Give someone a smile and watch what happens. Poking fun at oneself, having a good laugh and smiling whenever you meet someone may be your ticket to success. After all, life is so special, and we are so blessed to be Americans. There should be smiles on our faces all the time.
Have a laugh on me,
Charles S. Lauer,