Laughter - Great Medicine!

Ya Wanna Be Happy?  -- The Research


Hello Tigers!

You all know that I usually close my messages to you writing, “Happy Days!”   Well, I got to thinking about that while Barb and I were walking around different islands in the Caribbean this last week when on our cruise vacation.  The ‘triggers’ were very different. 

The first one was a song, “Ya Wanna Be Happy?”  Let be apologize to the Lady Tigers in advance, as the lyrics might be considered insulting.  Anyway, we’re walking around islands in the sun hearing steel-pan bands singing Caribbean songs.  As I remember them, the words went something like this.  “Ya Wanna Be Happy all your life, marry you a (I’ll say, “laughing” instead of the adjective in the song)  wife.  She’ll love you all your days.  She’ll be happy that a man wanted her.  You’ll be happy that she’ll always be true – true to you – no man will take her away from you!” 

The song goes on in other verses singing the happy services she’ll give to you.  That she’ll live a life trying to keep you happy.   Ya, Man!

The second ‘trigger’ was a man, like me, on the ship to provide informative talks to shipmates.  He, too, gave a series of talks, but his were on the subject of humor and its connection to happiness.  Different talks stressed different aspects of the general subject, such as that of being happy helped your mental health; yet another talk was about how humor could actually improve your medical health.   In one talk he showed the universality of humor including how it could help all ages to a fulfilling life.

So how can one be happy?  Well, there’s research about that, too.  He cited authorizes on the twin subjects of ‘How To’s’ and “Support Values.”  For the former he shared four needed states of mind. 

1.        Value Individuality.

2.        Practice Humility.  

3.        Look for the Positive (Avoid being Negative.)

4.        Live “Now.”  (Not the past or the future.)

All four are needed but the fourth state, of living in the present, is the most important as the other three must be practiced constantly.  That of course requires the present.  Living in the ‘moment’ is very challenging, and so most people most of the time are not in it, as they are trying to remember yesterdays or capture an aspiration.

You can get help to living happily.  And that was another talk.  In short, we all need help to practice these four states.  So we should, one, have a list of things to avoid, and, two, a group of support organizations.  At the very top of the first list are negative people (“Don’t Bring Me Down!”).  Other items on our ‘avoidance’ list depend on the individual as these ‘downers’ are many and complex.  But with some thought, each of us can identify what we need to avoid.

Support groups by definition are ones with happy people.  We all have spiritual/religious, physical, economic, and family organizations.  Seek people in those groups who are already practicing the four states.  My mother was my first key person, loving and happy; later, my father-in-law was a joy.  And even much later, in my career days at Lincoln Land Community College, I needed, and had, some key people who were smart, happy and humorous.  One was a librarian and the other was the dean of my department.   The Liberian appreciated my teaching but had no direct authority to me.  She was my personal cheerleader! Sometimes, after laughing at something, she’d begin a thought by say, “Have you thought of . . . . “  And she’d gently suggest a welcomed idea.  So she accepted me as I was and then offered other directions.  I can still see her smiling face.  I wish everyone enjoyed someone like her. 

Next was my dean.  He was so ‘loose’ some faculty members didn’t like him; but he believed in the value of humor, in our individuality, in humility (to the point that some liked to try walking all over him), and he lived in the ‘real world’ of “Now.” He was a funny man who laughed often.  He didn’t see problems as negatives, but as challenges that, if approached right, could even result in a much better reality.  I was so lucky to have these wonderful people ‘there’ for me.   They aren’t all of them.  But maybe I’ve given you the idea.  Find your support groups.  As I share with you so often, “Get Connected!”  I bet you already have a good idea of the individuals and groups to seek.

Being open to humor and being happy require living in the present and enjoying humor. 

Happy Days!



November 24, 2013