Thursday, May 1, 2014
General • Guest Columnist Don Huntington on Laughter
Our GUEST COLUMNIST, Don Huntington, is a most colorful writer and speaker who re-discovered The Hokey Pokey dance. You remember the Hokey Pokey, where you put your right side in, and your right side out…then the left sides, the hands and feet working up to “put your whole self in put your whole self out. put your whole self in and shake it all about.” Mr. Huntington, editor of 110% Magazine in Northern California, adopted his motivation speeches into “Putting Your Whole Self In,” which is the title for his charming book. Proverbs tell us that, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Our Guest is very much a tonic as he gives his views on laughter.
Don Huntington’s Column, “From Where I Sit” 110° April
YES IT’S A LAUGHING MATTER! IT’S ALL A LAUGHING MATTER.
We know that in the human condition, you cannot experience emotional distress and emotional uplift at the same time. When you’re experiencing mirth, you are not experiencing depression, anxiety or anger.(Steven Sultanoff)
I’ve discovered that there’s no better antidote for the ills of life than hearty laughter. Someone named Ellie Katz gave a wonderful Warning: “Humor may be hazardous to your illness.”
I was recently engaged in a conversation with small group of men. One of them spoke about a terrible marital separation that he was going through. He said that friends occasionally attempted to cheer him up with some laughter. “This is too painful for humor,” he said. I let it go, but the man was making a serious error.“That’s no laughing matter” is never true, because everything in life is a laughing matter. A good laugh provides an effective temporary surcease from the most terrible circumstance.
George Bernard Shaw showed great insight when he noted that “Life doesn’t cease to become funny when you die any more than it ceases to be serious when you laugh.” Years ago one of my college professors tragically had a heart attack and died. The man and his wife were friends of mine so I went to see the woman at the hospital. The receptionist said that no one could be with the widow except family members or her minister. I told her that I was her minister and she let me through.
When I arrived at the room I found two classmates who had also been close friends of the family. The widow gave me a hug and said she was so glad that I was there. “I told them that I was your pastor,” I said. The other two burst out laughing and said it was the same thing they told her. We laughed about that to the point that tears were running down our cheeks. The left-behind woman shared in our gales of laughter.
Robert Fulghum once observed that “Laughter is the only cure for grief.”However, laughter doesn’t really cure anything, I think, but that kind of death-bed merriment opens windows to heavenly sunshine that eases for a while the most troubled soul. The grandpa character in a Pickles comic strip wisely observed that laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper. “It doesn’t solve any problems permanently, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.”
Of course, not all laughter has this healing restorative quality. Quite the opposite! We all have been victims (and I suppose perpetrators) of malicious derisive jeering and taunting humor. We’ve encountered forms of malevolent and mocking glee that deliberately intend to inflict psychic wounds. Children and young people in particular seem to be cursed with a fondness for delivering cruel insults and ridicule, masquerading themin the guise of innocent fun. As we grow older and more experienced, most of us develop sufficient wisdom to recognize the distinction between laughing with another person, which is the best type of human interaction, and laughing at another, which is the worst. Those of us who come to wisdom learn the difference between cheerful laughter at what others may do and mocking laughter at what they are.
Laughter draws people together.One of the great laugh masters, Victor Borge, called laughter “the closest distance between two people.”E.E. Cummings wrote, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” My wife and I laugh together every day. Rae has a merry spirit beneath her reserved appearance. She and I find something humorous in almost any circumstance. When I was preparing to go to the hospital to have major surgery, Rae held me in her arms and said, “I wish it were me having the operation instead of you.” That was a touching moment. But then she added, “You always get all the attention,” which sent me off to the hospital with tears of laughter still in my eyes.
Oscar Wilde noted that laughter is “not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and is far the best ending for one.” I can’t imagine any better conclusion to my life than to be sent off filled with laughter at some final “good ’un.”James Brown’s final words were, “I’m going away tonight” — words that I hope brought a smile to his family and friends who had gathered around his bed. Conrad Hilton’s final words were, “Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub,” which I imagine was his light-hearted witticism to ease the pain of the people he left behind.
“Always leave them laughing when you say Goodbye,” George Cohen wrote. It was equally good advice for a conversation, a friendship, or a life.
Don’s book can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/How-Put-Your-Whole-Self-ebook/dp/B005PDH4OM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399052070&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+put+your+whole+self+in, and also directly to his website link below his name.