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Laughter is the best medicine.

September 2, 2009 - Michael Palmer
“More than 19 million Americans over the age of 18 experience a depressive illness each year,” declares the headline on a Web page at — an informational site devoted to depression and supported in part by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

What is depression? It's a mood disorder with varying symptoms, but often makes a person feel sad, hopeless, worthless, anxious, irritable, or tired. Stress, anxiety, change, illness, death, or a combination of several things causes depression. It also occurs because of chemical imbalances within the brain. Depression comes in varying degrees from the temporary blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to more serious illnesses such as major depression and bipolar disorder that may affect a person for years, and sometimes their whole lifetime. For some people though, depression is a temporary condition that diminishes in time. More severe cases can be treated by a combination of medication and therapy to keep it under control.

There are many aspects of our lives we just do not have control over. There are accidents and illness that can wreak havoc with our finances or health. The death of a loved one in the family or turmoil in our personal relationships. Don’t forget work, if you still have a job, you may have noticed that there have been better times for employees. You genuinely feel unappreciated in the work place and I guess that relates directly to the fact that there have also been more financially secure times for the companies that employ us.

I have recently had to run the gauntlet of this list of depressing life occurrences. (Check my past blogs so I don’t have to rehash all the negatives please.) So I decided to go and see a therapist to find out just what was causing this depressed condition and after several minutes of questioning me, she came up with a cause.

“You’re Poor!” She said.

That pretty much sums it up for most of the readers, however, this is an attempt at telling a joke. I really didn’t go see a therapist. I can’t afford one….. and if I could, I think a massage therapist is more my style. My point is; You can enjoy life more by including humor into your daily routine. Why? Because humor is an excellent tool for combating depression. Reader’s Digest has known this for the past century: Laughter is the best medicine.

Adopt an attitude of playfulness. This does not mean that you have to do outrageous things, but that your mind is open to uncensored, iconoclastic, silly or outrageous thoughts. This may cause people around you to think you don’t take life or in the case of your boss, work, seriously. However, it will make YOU feel better.

Think funny. Try and see the funny side or flip side of every situation. You have to have the ability to laugh at yourself, not in derision, but with objectivity and acceptance of self.

Take yourself lightly. You will discover that this will make life's anxieties and burdens lighter. Here’s a tough assignment, try and make others laugh. By creating happiness for others, you will experience a special joy of accomplishment that only a lively, generous sense of humor can bring. A sense of humor can help you find the fun in everyday experiences. I believe it is more important to have fun than it is to be funny. (This explains why sometimes you are not laughing, right?)

The Taste Buds are a good example of this type of therapy. These two professionals start talking with accents that would make anyone unfamiliar with their heritage believe they were died in the wool natives of the Dakotas. Ever since the movie Fargo came out over a decade ago, these two ladies have honed their ability to mimic the Scandinavian-inflected accent of North Dakota. This has been a guaranteed way to elicit laughter during dull afternoons in the office.

Even the managing editor, Bubba, keeps it light. “Arnie,” he says to me quipping my imposed office nick name, “When did you get here.” This is humorous because he says this after we have all been working together on a project - say Saturday’s Sports pages - for the past nine hours and it is currently 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

“Having said that,” …

A businessman was in a great deal of trouble. His business was failing, his house was being foreclosed on, he owed everybody-- it was so bad he was even contemplating suicide. As a last resort he went to a priest and poured out his story of tears and woe.

When he had finished, the priest said, "Here's what I want you to do: Put a beach chair and your Bible in your car and drive down to the beach. Take the beach chair and the Bible to the water's edge, sit down in the beach chair, and put the Bible in your lap. Open the Bible; the wind will rifle the pages, but finally the open Bible will come to rest on a page. Look down at the page and read the first thing you see. That will be your answer, that will tell you what to do."

A year later the businessman went back to the priest and brought his wife and children with him. The man was in a new custom-tailored suit, his wife in a mink coat, the children shining. The businessman pulled an envelope stuffed with money out of his pocket, gave it to the priest as a donation in thanks for his advice.

The priest recognized the benefactor, and was curious if he had taken his advice. "You did as I suggested?" he asked.

"Absolutely," replied the businessman.

"You went to the beach?"


"You sat in a beach chair with the Bible in your lap?"


"You let the pages rifle until they stopped?" "Absolutely."

"And what were the first words you saw?"

"Chapter 11."

Now, you have had a little chuckle, you feel better...SO...stop reading this blog and get back to work…..SLACKER!


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