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Book Excerpts
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Book Excerpts
The Power of Optimism
LOL Feel Good and Live Longer
     You probably have heard the story about the glass of water-half full or half empty? We all know people who, no matter what the situation, would say the glass-for them-is half empty. Often, we judge ourselves too harshly. When we experience a setback or when we think that we have failed, it is easy to fall into the half-empty-glass syndrome instead of looking at the good things in our lives and the future potential for good.

Let the Clowns Come In
“Clowns work as well as aspirin, but twice as fast.”
~ Groucho Marx

Jim’s introduction to humor therapy
In 1969, Dr. Jim Harris became involved in charitable work through Sertoma Clubs, and remained involved for more than three decades. Sertoma places an emphasis on the giver’s interaction with the recipient. This interaction provides as much benefit to the giver, through hugs, smiles, and gratefulness, as is gained by those who receive help.
    This one principle can make a big difference in developing positive communications and effective relationships. Developing a trusting attitude toward people, making them feel good about themselves, holding them in mutual respect, and accepting them for who they are can lead to better communications and stronger relationships.

The Worth of Mirth

The value, the worth and the power of mirth
Can help each of us to get through.
When the going is rough and incredibly tough
And even the sunshine is blue.
For once you give in to a chuckle or grin,
Your spirits just naturally lift.
And life is worthwhile each time that you smile
For a laugh is the best kind of gift!
  ~ Author Unknown

    This may shock you, but I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my success, my failures, fame or pain, what other people think or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude is that "single string" that keeps me going or hinders my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there's no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.
Charles Swindoll

Chapter 1 Laughter Strategies

Arne Swensen, a caring clown and founder of the Foundation for Therapeutic Clowning, challenges people to step outside their normal boundaries. People have their comfort zones, but they can do what Dr. Laffngiggl says—be creative and do something crazy—and they just might find out that they like it and it’s fun!
  • Join a laughter club or start one.
  • Listen to fun music—from funk to top 40.
  • Watch funny movies. Great movies . . . some you can check out at the library, like I Love Lucy outtakes. Pick them up cheap.
  • Be a clown . . . dress up for parties . . . put on some makeup and visit a nursing home.
    Have you ever considered how influential you really are? Have you ever realized that you may be a role model for someone without even knowing it? Each of us has the capacity to touch the life of one or possibly thousands of people. If you have children, it may be your children's lives that you impact. In your community, you may influence other citizens' lives. At your workplace, you may be a role model to other employees.

The age of psyche and soma

The idea of mind and body connection was buzzing during the 1920s and 1930s. Physiologists, psychologists and physicians were researching how emotions relate to bodily disorders. One exceptional pioneer in the mind/body research was Helen Flanders Dunbar, M.D.8 In Dr Dunbar’s 1935 book, Emotions and Bodily Changes: A Survey of Literature on Psychosomatic Interrelationship, she coined the word “psychosomatic.” The term is derived from psyche, the subjective aspect of themind, and soma, the Greek word for body. A modern version has emerged as “psychophysiologic,” but the original “psychosomatic” still endures.
    Staying focused gives you a track to run on. It provides the guidelines you need to reach your individual or business goals. A lack of concentration or discipline, too much looking ahead, or spending too much money before you have it can prevent you from maintaining the necessary focus. The business world is littered with stories about companies that lost their focus. Do not become part of that litter.

The History of Laughter

    “Many of us are convinced that there is at least as much healing in laughter and joy as there is in medicine and surgery. Often healing begins when we can laugh at ourselves, at our quirks—our families, our church, our nation. Laughter can be a prayer of confession, and an assurance of pardon.”
      ~ Art Ross, excerpt from a sermon at
      White Memorial Presbyterian Church,
      Raleigh, North Carolina, January 21, 2001
Among the earliest medical scholars were the Greek and Roman physicians. The most celebrated was Hippocrates (460–370 B.C.), the renowned Greek physician known as “Father of Medicine.” He saw the value of spiritual and emotional elements of healing and advised his followers to observe how the two worked together.
    We never know what the future holds, so why not part company with class and on a positive note? Most people will be surprised by your positive behavior because others would not provide this type of response when clients leave them. They may or may not do business with you again, but they will remember you as the classiest person they ever met.

Laugh and Be Healed

    “Ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”
      ~ Norman Cousins
Throughout this book, we have stressed the personal and business rewards of humor and laughter. We have recognized humor as a diversion that can ease pain and sorrow. And we have seen how a robust belly laugh creates a “massage” of muscles and body organs, and improves respiration and circulation. These benefits are impressive, but “you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
    Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." It is hard for people to say no. All sales professionals can show you call records going back six months to three years where a prospect says "call back," "not yet," or "maybe next month." Salespeople want to believe that the prospect will eventually make a buying decision. This can create a false sense of security if it causes you to think you have a lot of business coming in. At some point, you have to act on these holdouts and move on.

Leadership and Humor

    "The best leaders . . . almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols."
      —Tom Peters, Business Writer
The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything. Almost nothing is more helpful in dealing with people than a sense of humor.
In the world of academia, it is said that professors have to "publish or perish." In coaching, the "wins and losses" are crucial. In the corporate world, "profits and losses" indicate the bottom line. In professional sales, it is "prospect or perish."

That is why it is so important to meet new people every day. If you like what you do, then it can be fun as well as a valuable learning experience. The opportunities to meet people are endless. They are all around us. We just need to be able to see them.

Humor + humility = humaneness

Humor is often combined with pomposity or showmanship. The English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), characterized laughter as “nothing else but sudden glory.” But humor mixed with humility—or calling attention to our own imperfections—is often humor at its best. If we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we pave the way to the mutual relationship of humor and humility. The product of that duet is humaneness.
    I challenge you to, "Get Active, Stay Active." There is sufficient evidence that links regular physical activity to health improvements. It will help you reduce daily stress, provide greater amounts of physical and mental energy, help you look and feel younger and more vital, and keep off those extra pounds. Just remember, an active lifestyle is available to all of us, and it's never too late to start.

Sharpen your social and business skills

In this global economy, everyone needs to stand up and stand out. That doesn’t mean you should be boastful, nor should you be finding fault with others to make yourself look better. You stand out by graciously, sensibly and artfully expressing your point of view.
    " . . . In the rush to write business in today's environment, or perhaps in an effort to provide service to your policyholders, you may find situations where you are tempted to [save some time] or 'cut some corners.' Some of these situations may tempt you to sign someone else's name or answer a question yourself because you don't want to bother your clients.

Chapter 10 Laughter Strategies

Steven Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, said that one of the unpublished habits he lives by is that you have to maintain a sense of humor. A sign in his hallway to the bathroom reads, “What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?” So why not:
  • Have good honest fun with your family, friends and associates just like Covey by being creative and thoughtful.
  • Increase your awareness of yourself by listening to your body through meditation.
  • Reduce stress by exercising your mind and body physically and mentally.
  • Practice patience and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.
    No risks, no rewards. How many times have you heard this? Christopher Columbus, the European discoverer of the New World, is one of many in a long history of people who have taken a risk. There were many at the time of Columbus who believed that the world was flat and that if you sailed too far into the Atlantic Ocean you would surely fall off the end of the world. Columbus wasn't sure what he was going to find when he set sail in 1492. He must have had faith in himself. The earth wasn't flat and the rest is history.

The bittersweet hormones of the endocrine glands

As the immune system has its cells and chemicals within the linkage of PNEI9, so does the endocrine system have its hormones. The function of the stress hormones of the adrenal glands, along with the other endocrine glands, is to maintain the body’s equilibrium. Physicians call this “homeostasis.” This includes monitoring chemical compositions, regulating blood pressure and body temperature, stimulating appetite and other adjustments to keep the body functioning smoothly.

Negative emotions cause those normally beneficial hormones to turn sour and go into a downward spiral, leading to poor health. So it seems logical that a positive emotion, such as laughter, can reverse that process. This was found during a study done by Berk, Tan and Fry. The subjects involved in the study showed significant de- creases in stress hormones during and after periods of laughter.

Simply put: negative emotions such as anger, frustration or stress, increase stress hormones, while positive emotions like happiness and laughter, decrease them.

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