In General

“When you begin to analyse fun, it isn’t fun anymore”-Anon

I received this book as a gift and something about the title and the blurb intrigued me -“The best-selling, groundbreaking classic by Norman Cousins on combating life-threatening illness through humor and patient participation in care.”

And when I read this summary, I was compelled to read it at one go. “Anatomy of an Illness was the first book by a patient that spoke to our current interest in taking charge of our own health. It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies’ capacity for healing. When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. The doctor’s genius was in helping his patient to use his own powers: laughter, courage, and tenacity. The patient’s talent was in mobilizing his body’s own natural resources, proving what an effective healing tool the mind can be. This remarkable story of the triumph of the human spirit is truly inspirational reading.”

Norman Cousins in his engaging account does not sound diffident even once but creatively uses humor as a therapy. This got me interested to deep dive into the topic because I’d just started conducting workshops for corporates on business humor. And stumbled upon the website of the Association of Applied and Thereaupetic Humor ( AATH) www.aath.org.

AATH is an organisation that focuses on the professional application of humor. They have a diverse band of professionals who use humor in their fields to achieve a positive outcome. Nurses and doctors who use or oversee humor therapy in their hospitals. Counsellors and psychotherapists use humor as a tool for treatment. Motivational speakers, trainers, yoga instructors, laughter therapists and business leaders make this a rich blend of professionals.

Every year at their annual convention, members gather to present papers on various experiments on humor as a therapeutic tool. I attended their 2012 convention in Chicago and presented a paper on ‘Stand up,Speak up and Shut up’ – The Art of using Humor in Public Speaking’. The 2020 convention has ‘TREATING LIFE WITH HUMOR’ as the theme.

I was lucky to meet Chrstine Clifford, a motivational speaker on fighting cancer through humor. I talk about her extensively in my humor workshops and was thrilled to meet her in person. Chrsitine is a cancer survivor and uses self deprecating humor effectively to combat cancer. A sample: when someone offered her a cigarette at a party, she said, “no thanks. I already have cancer”. She autographed two of her books for me. Do visit www.cancerclub.com or christineclifford.com to know more about her!

With motivational speaker and cancer survivor Christine Clifford in Chicago at the AATH convention in 2012.

So to get back to where we started, “When you begin to analyse fun, it isn’t fun anymore.” In these Covid times the selfless work of healthcare workers trying to bring a cheer amid so much suffering deserves a SALUTE. I urge you to realise the power of humor not just to brighten up someone’s day but to heal internal wounds.

I’d like to end with Christine Clifford’s remarkable words, “Laughter is the only tranquilliser that has no side effects!” 😜😄😁😜

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