Healing with Humor: Those Who Laugh, Last

A hearty chuckle can be good for your health and might even make you better at your job.


| Dec. 5, 2008



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"Once you find the humor in a situation, you can survive it." — Bill Cosby


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“Life is too serious to be taken too seriously.” — Joel Goodman

When Joel Goodman, a New York organizational consultant, learned that his father had a life-threatening aneurysm, he flew to Houston to be with him. Every morning, Goodman took a van from his hotel to the hospital. “The driver was a comedian,” Goodman recalls. “I was rigid with fear, but on the drive to the hospital, he told jokes. He made me laugh. For a few moments, I relaxed.”

When Allen Klein’s wife, Ellen, was dying of cancer, somehow, a copy of Playgirl magazine found its way to her hospital room. She asked her husband to tape the male nude centerfold to the wall.

“Someone might object,” Allen said.

“Well,” his wife replied, “Take a leaf from that plant and tape it over the genitals.”

The leaf worked for two days, but by day three it had begun to shrivel — and slowly revealed what it was supposed to conceal.“Whenever we glanced at that dried-up leaf, we laughed,” Klein recalls. “It made our troubles easier to bear.”

“A sense of humor makes a person healthy, wealthy and wisecracking.” — Henny Youngman

geoffrey taylor
12/18/2008 4:52:04 PM

Having a good time and laughing at the beauty of the world is probably the natural human condition, but it's certain that humankind would not have gotten this far without it. It's a form of communication, all right, and it's disarming. Laughter dissolves tension, relieves stress, melts worry like a blowtorch on butter, and is our best shield against the fear of anything. Great story. Good timing for the holidays, when we all need to lighten up a little. Not to dampen the spirit, but these are the good old days. Our pending challenges as individuals and members of society are not to be faced by the faint of heart. Laughter is universal courage. You can find it by merely looking around at the way things are. Not so bad, but a few matters are supremely worthy of our immediate attention. Humor evokes immediate attention. As a way to move readers, Stephen King ranked it right behind Horror.


gene blair
12/15/2008 11:03:41 AM

This article confirms what I have believed all my life. No matter what life is throwing your way, there's something funny about it. Even when I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. I was being prepared for surgery and the Nurse who came to shave the hair off my abdomen joked that she was the only person who was taking something away that would come back stronger and thicker than before. I laughed and thanked her for reducing my fear. I began to see hope where there was only fear before and i am cancer free now for over nine years. What you say to someone when they are in severe stress makes all the difference in the world.






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