Max Your Mind with Humor and More

It's better together.What a great group of good sports! Thanks to each of you for your enthusiastic participation in the crazy brain coaching activities we did at UWEC’s 25th Annual Sr. American’s Day March 19, 2013

Without regular “workouts”, our brains slow down and don’t serve us so well. It doesn’t show up in body measurements, but we definitely notice the “fade”.  We know about crossword puzzles, Sudoku, brain training software. But did you know that just laughing is a wonderful brain workout?

Every time you hear a joke:

  • The language center on the left side of your brain makes sense of the words.
  • The message then crosses to the right side of the brain where the right frontal cortex activates stored emotions and social memories.
  • It then shuffles the information until it clicks and you get the joke.
  • Next, a structure deep in the brain pumps out dopamine, a “reward system chemical” that makes you feel good.
  • Your brain stem near the base of your skull makes you laugh.

(Adapted from “Just Laugh” by Pam VanKampen of Northern Area Agency on Aging)

That’s a lot of activity for the split second it takes to laugh at a joke. How about making it a body work out without the joke?

Laughter Yoga’s been around since 1995, there are 8,000 Laughter Yoga clubs across the world. Now it’s sweeping our nation because it works out the body’s muscles, our breathing systems, and especially the brain. You don’t even have to have a sense of humor, it uses no jokes or comedy. Groups of people do simple exercises, make eye contact with each other, begin with “fake” laughter, and soon genuine laughter takes over. Someone said they feel as good after Laughter Yoga as they do after a good cry. Endorphins flood the brain connections, and everyone has a great time. In Eau Claire, Jodi Ritsch M.D. will be starting a new season of classes next summer in their new center. For details, go to www.LifeByDesign.com.  Jodi says, “If you can breathe and laugh, you can do Laughter Yoga.” You Tube examples can get you started with some friends or even by yourself. Give it a try!

Humor Heals! Research studies detail many cases, including Norman Cousins’ where people successfully beat their ailments through humor and nutritional support. Cartoons, jokes and funny stories work more of your brain than simply reading. It can tune our minds, help us learn, and keep us mentally loose, limber and creative.

Seniors at our workshop listed their top 20 sources from “Good Old Days on TV”that they turn to when they need a good laugh:

I Love Lucy, Carol Burnett, All in the Family, M.A.S.H., Smothers Brothers, Dick Van Dyke, Seinfeld, Howdy Doody, Sheriff Bob, Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say The Darndest Things”, Bill Cosby Show, Jackie Gleason, Honeymooners, Three Stooges, Little Rascals, Amos and Andy, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Laurel and Hardy, and George Burns.

Reaction was mixed on slapstick, but it was fun remembering together.

The “real” Dr. Patch Adams tells us, “We have to get people laughing because:

  • It provides balance in people’s lives
  • It helps people cope better
  • It helps them stay well

Laughter is powerful!”

Some thoughts for the road…

“Each humor event you experience makes you grow a little bit…the brain has expanded and taken on new connections.” William Fry, M.D.

“Humor is something that causes a tickling of the brain. Laughter is invented to scratch it!” Hugh Foot

What makes you laugh?  How about the grandkids?

 

Sandi

 

© Sandra Sunquist Stanton MS, NCC, LPC, Connections of the Heart LLC

For additional articles and information, visit www.ourbrainbuddies.com or send an email sandi@ourbrainbuddies.com

Comments

  1. Diane Steffens says:

    Sandi, I floated out of the auditorium anxious to share my experience with friends that attended other sessions. You not only shared facts but brought the group together with your enthusiasm and love, yes love, while guiding us in sharing laughter and the great feelings laughter brings.
    Thanks for making the facts about the brain understandable AND easy to remember. I’m looking forward to future presentations as are my friends.

    • How thoughtful of you to let me know, Diane! I loved every minute of our time together. Thanks for visiting the website and leaving a comment–so glad to know it all works!

      Sandi

  2. Anonymous says:

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