Should I ever wake up some morning and think, “I guess it’s time to get a job,” I know exactly how I’ll abort that thought. I’ll just get in my car and head for the nearest freeway. A few minutes spent in rush hour traffic would certainly bring me back to my senses.
It’s not just the slowness of heavy traffic that annoys me: the behavior of my fellow drivers is one of the few things guaranteed to make me lose my cool. No thoughts of universal oneness and love of humanity surface when I’m spending time in traffic.
Shortly after being inspired by Marianne Williamson’s Everyday Grace, I decided to try a new approach. When a fellow driver would threaten my life, I’d send them a silent blessing and then say a short prayer that went something like, “Dear Lord, please send that person better driving skills.”
I figured there was a hidden opportunity here to start shaping up all the folks who didn’t bother using their turn signals or who were distracted by a fascinating phone conversation.
It calmed me a little as I recalled the Biblical admonition to pray without ceasing and realized that bad drivers were propelling me to a constant state of prayer. I had no idea that another weapon awaited me.
A few years ago, I attended a Laughter Workshop taught by Kim McIntyre Cannold. After all, I love to laugh and I thought it would be fun. I didn’t expect to learn something so amazing, something that has proved invaluable already—especially in traffic.
Cannold, who is certified by the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, opened her workshop by talking about the different kinds of laughter and had us all try out various types from tittering to belly laughing. Then she boldly suggested that we could schedule a laugh fest every day and simply laugh our heads off for no reason other than it would improve our emotional and physical well-being.
That was news to me. Laughing for the sake of laughing? While laughing as a healing agent has long been known, I’d never heard it suggested that we could just laugh without any outside stimulus.
The next time a driver cut me off, I decided to laugh, although it seemed a bit hypocritical. To my astonishment, it felt great. It felt much better than fuming to myself, which didn’t change the situation.
Laughing didn’t change the other driver’s behavior, either, (and I figured my prayers might take a little longer to be answered), but it sure changed me. It was obvious that the one who laughs gets the reward.
If you’d like to expand the amount of laughter in your life, here are some ideas that can help.
° Memorize this quote. Ernest Hemingway said, “The seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who can laugh in life the seeds are covered with better soil and a higher grade of manure.”
° Take a laughter class. If your local adult ed program has such a class, sign up at once. If you can’t find such a class, get a set of CDs or tapes from your favorite comedian and play them in the car. I love the Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Jokes album.
° Meet my friend Karyn Ruth. The most hilarious trip I ever took was the London adventure I shared with Karyn Ruth White. We both recall it as a week of nonstop laughter. If she’s not available to accompany you on a trip, order her video Laughing in the Face of Stress or her CD set from www.karynruthwhite.com. She’s a seriously funny woman.
° Meet Annette Goodheart. The first laughter therapist I ever heard of was Dr. Goodheart whose adult ed classes in her hometown of Santa Barbara had long waiting lists. Dr. Goodheart calls laughter ‘Portable Therapy’ and points out that its benefits include: strengthens your immune system, helps you think more clearly, replenishes creativity, releases emotional pain, it’s free. She’s got a great Web site with several surprising features. Go to www.teehee.com to see for yourself.
° Read something funny. There aren’t a lot of authors that make me laugh out loud, but one who does is Bill Bryson. His travel books are especially hilarious. I’m especially fond of Neither Here Nor There, although any of his books is bound to produce a giggle or guffaw.
° Join a Laughing Club. The movement started by The Laughing Clubs of India is spreading throughout the world. You may have a local branch or you might want to start one yourself. The concept is simple: get a group together and laugh for half an hour first thing in the morning. They claim all sorts of amazing cures among their members.
Laughter and prayer are certainly important for the entrepreneurial life so be generous with both. Look for the funny side and you’ll discover there’s no shortage of goofiness to help you meet your daily quota of laughs. Be bold and test it for yourself. It’s medicine that doesn’t require a prescription.