Posted on January 28, 2022 by Gaye Abbott
PHOTO: Patch Adams, M.D.
Many long years ago when I was a Neurosurgical Assistant at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, CA I was privileged to attend a conference which focused on laughter and play. And of course that meant a reminder to start each day with a smile which was often challenging as we consistently dealt with life threatening diagnoses.
I remember coming back from that conference, which happened to take place onboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, with the awareness of how serious everyone was most all the time. Not just at the Clinic, but in everyday life!
I was well aware of the work that now 75-year-old Patch Adams, M.D. with his red clown nose has done, and is still doing, who’s message for health care providers has been “lighten the mood and you will lighten the struggle”. And Norman Cousins (Cancer Laughter Cure). had done on laughter and the simple act of smiling to raise endorphin levels, decrease pain, and augment healing even from a cancer diagnosis he was given.
Yet, it appeared that I needed a reminder to add it to the daily dose of patient care upon my return, in addition to the Hug Therapist button I wore on my lab coat every day. After five days of wearing a clown nose, learning how to juggle with marshmallows, witnessing comedians come up with material to make us smile and laugh, and even taking a class on “Laughter and Play in the Death & Dying Process” I was well armed to come back and “lighten things up”.
Coming from a community where smiling, humor and laughter was valued and practiced every single day of the conference to the impact of seriousness at the Clinic and the outside world was a tad challenging. It took some time to integrate.
Joke books were placed in exam rooms for patient reading material and I was smiling more as I cared for patients and connected with staff . Did it make a difference? I will let you create a story about what happened. (besides the joke books disappearing from the exam rooms!)
And it all begins with a smile. A simple smile given and received.
Below are 5 reasons to smile taken from a post entitled “Smile. Laugh. Be Joyful” on Wonderfully Human by Diana Turner-Forte:
“There are many reasons to smile, but I’ll just focus on five benefits for this post.
“And besides, when you smile you are beautiful. If you are not excited about wanting to smile every chance you get, I’ve added this clip by Bobby McFerrin. Snap your fingers, pat your legs, clap your hands, get up and dance, and SMILE!”
Bet you can’t keep from smiling and moving!! Maybe even acting silly…..NOW how do you feel?
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Gaye Abbott, Natural Passages Consulting, 1/30/22. Please feel free to share this post and link to WildlyFreeElder
Category: Artistry of Aging, Death and DyingTags: Aging With Humor, Artistry of Aging, Benefits of Laughter and Play, Benefits of Smiling, Bobby McFerrin, Conscious Aging, Elder Artistry, Elderhood, Patch Adams, Wildly Free Elder