Laughter and Wellbeing

‘Laughter is the language of the soul!’ Pablo Neruda

I take my work as a comedy writer and performer seriously!  Many hours of effort go into the punch line of a poem or a gag.  It’s also possible to kill that one line with the wrong timing or emphasis when it’s being performed.  Sometimes I’m certain that what I’ve written must be funny as it makes me laugh: usually I’m right, but not always.  Other times I’m convinced that this ain’t funny at all – only to discover when I try it out that I’ve got my audience laughing away.   There is a particular pleasure – and relief – when you hear that sound.  Not least because it means that I’ve achieved what I set out to do, but also because I know of the health benefits that occur when we laugh.

When I was asked to write an article for The Association for Therapeutic Healers (www.healers-ath.org) about laughter and its benefits to wellbeing because I use fun and humour in my coaching work, as well as being a comedy writer and performer, I set off in search of what happens to our body-mind when we laugh. Fortunately, I had been introduced to the work of Patch Adams (www.patchadams.org), the international humanitarian and clown doctor, sometime before. His work with the sick and dying, particularly children is humbling.  I wrote to him, attended one of his clown doctoring workshops and he became both an inspiration and a mentor.  Watch the eponymous movie starring Robin Williams – a comic genius – if you want to see some of the ways in which he creates laughter and its effects on patients’ health.

There’s a fascinating catalogue of benefits to laughing and its effect on our mental and physical well being.  And you need to bear in mind that it’s contagious too!  Laughter reduces stress, eases muscle tension, increases the body’s T-Cell count, boosts mental function, increases pain tolerance and that’s just for starters!

Studies of antibody production have also shown that the stronger a person’s sense of humour, the more resistant that person’s immune system will be to the effects of stress.  While stress tends to impair immune functioning, subjects whose sense of humour was assessed on standardised psychological scales as being high were less affected by stress than those who scored low.  Humour, as Donna Eden (www.innersource.net) describes in her book Energy Medicine jump starts your strange flows – that’s your inner Mum!.

Here’s my prescription for when your inner grump is taking charge take some time to watch or listen to your favourite comedian, comedy show or read a funny poem. It’s important to remember that:  “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17.22).

Steering with Creativity

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“Nothing is ever out of reach!”  I’ve started this blog with the last line of my poem Shout The Sun to establish my credentials as a creative doing it her way. The poem contains essential guidance to remind you of what’s really important and where you need to be to find your creativity and what to do when the going gets tough.  I try to remember to follow my own wise words and of course encourage my clients to do the same.

Creativity is my raison d’etre, what floats my boat and what comes from my heart, mind and soul.  This is my purpose and I even have a Creativity Manifesto – as everyone can be creative.   It flows into my work as a creative business coach for which I created The Golden Wheel and as a performance poet and comedian, both of which feature directly and indirectly in my coaching.  In essence, I  nourish my clients businesses and help to steer them from Planet Stuck to Planet Flow be they heroine, hero or teams so that they can be their authentic selves, delivering their best performance and arriving at the success they want.

I’ve been doing it my way for more than 21 years and so a book by the brilliant Judith Morgan entitled Your Biz Your Way is one after my own heart. Judith has steered me away from pitfalls and through problems and back to my true self and right direction, so I was thrilled to have something encapsulating her wisdom and ways in my hands for ready and frequent reference.  Her book frequently reminds me of what I know already, but may have forgotten, what I need to know at certain times when one serendipitously opens it at the right page and what I know I know but would rather circumnavigate as it represents doing one of those tasks that all entrepreneurs need to do but dislike.

I’m still not sure whether I fell or was pushed into self employment some 30 years ago but it was my mid-life crisis and I was sure as hell going to have one – so I did.  Seeking a mentor as the newly birthed PR consultant setting up her own consultancy after a successful corporate career proved to be impossible in late 80s.  This didn’t stop me being successful professionally and to my surprise I had a blue chip client list, staff and a Mayfair office within six months.  My learning curve was on the job, stumbling and falling as I went and I floundered a lot with the work/life balance.

My business model back then was trying to run it the way I’d seen my bosses do – their way.  It wasn’t until an ‘aha’ moment when my purpose presented itself some 3 years into my consultancy that suddenly ‘my way’ began to emerge along with the right mentors and later coaches.  That was when I realised I wanted to make a difference by helping people to grow.  Suddenly doors opened up in ways I could not have imagined and I found myself moving into the world of holistic business training and consultancy, back when much of what is now mainstream thinking and practice was considered ‘woo woo’ or just unnecessary.

To my delight I discovered that my creativity and my life long passion and involvement in the arts became my guiding light in creating and delivering holistic business workshops for 100s of entrepreneurs and companies – SMEs, private and public sector – and subsequently for the creation of my own business model and coaching process. This again was long before coaching became the accepted business skill that it is today. It was a delight to be able to use my extensive expertise and the wisdom I’ve learnt from my own journey in business too.

Being a practical and pragmatic business woman I researched why what I was doing was having such good results and participants were having so much fun!  Well lo and behold, I was working with the whole person, enabling them to work with both sides of the brain and to learn new stuff and change in the way that we all did as children by emotionally engaging them and their senses. Throw into the mix my sense of humour and my natural comic timing and you have a recipe for making even the toughest changes fun. Bringing a sense of humour and laughter into business was probably one of the best lessons I learnt from a former boss – not to take it too seriously.

Some 30 years from that mid life crisis, I am doing it ‘my way’ with a surety that’s comes of long experience, many mistakes and challenges and because what began as holistic business training has now evolved into a holistic business model, a coaching process and programmes under the name of The Golden Wheel.  I’ve even created a Diamond Compass to show clients – and me – where and how their energy is being used and what to do to rebalance it.

It is the wheel that steers my clients lives and businesses to continued growth.  We use it either to focus on the development and dynamics of the business or the growth of the person or people in it and often both.  There’s a neat solution finder incorporated into it as well – so that when your stuck the Golden Wheel will reveal where, why and what to do.

In my work with corporate and groups, the arts take centre stage with my signature workshop Switch Off to Switch On! which opens up participants creativity using the transformational power of poetry – another of my passions.  This is fused with my coaching to enable them to return to ‘who they are, what they do and what they love about their role’ and it nourishes the team spirit.  My coaching is tailored to my clients’ journeys and delivered as programmes to ensure they discover greater resources within, as well as being nourished to deliver powerful performances.

Creativity helps my clients with many different personal and business challenges:  from helping leaders with their strategic thinking by showing them how creative thinking nourishes it; clearing blocks to change; clarifying the vision; inspiration and ideas; how to create emotional engagement for employee engagement;  and to be in the creative space means you have to relax. Even futurologists are staying that business will need to be focused on whole brain thinking and holistic well being.  Brain experts have found that our unconscious mind where creativity hangs out is a sophisticated powerhouse. I have a book on its way, called The Heroine’s Journey in Business. Some things seem to take for ever to change and it’s tough hearing stories that you lived thru as a women in business back in the 70s in 2018!

The Golden Wheel steers my own business and personal development. I know what to do and who to turn to when there are storms, squalls and sudden opportunities that could throw me off course or when I cannot hear my intuition.   It and creativity have enabled me to fully inhabit my role as ‘grey raver’, there is a certainty that comes from truly knowing who you are and being comfortable in your skin – slightly lined thought it may be! – and that life will always be a work in progress.

We arrive back where we started with my poem Shout The Sun – which is also the name of my website. A poem will always go to the heart of the matter, transform the global to the personal and make sense of a world that too often rattles the bones of madness.   I know and research supports it that by reading a poem you can reduce your stress, breathe and reflect. I’ve achieved one of my dreams of being published  – You Can’t Cook a Poem Like an Egg! – is my first collection. In it, I touch on many of life’s issues – love, life, death and rock ‘n’ roll!  Shout the Sun was inspired by an 11 year old friend but its tale is as relevant for adults as it is for children.

Shout the Sun

(for Liam, aged 11)

When life is tough

and full of stuff

not wanted,

scheme a dream!

Hullabaloo!

Yip yap!

Rip rap!

Twist and shout!

There’ll be no doubt

you’ll win through.

When you’re stuck

in a rut

with a belly

full of jelly

that turns you inside up,

take a drop of joy,

become your favourite toy.

Leap and lark

from dawn til dark,

look up not down,

be the clown.

Wander barefoot in the sand,

feel the fun inside your hand!

Plick pluck it,

tuck it

under your chin,

take a break,

be a snake,

wiggle your toe,

then let go!

Shout the sun!

Be your fun!

Sparkle star on the beach,

nothing is ever out of reach.