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Why is HUMOR a container AND cure-all for Balance, Health and JOY?

How does humor heal trauma?  Here’s a brief…lopsided clip from my keynote at the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor Conference to explain!

Humor is a creative container for un-fun emotions we try to repress in trauma.

Why do we joke about things?

It’s a way to contain it so we can manage it, we become larger than it, It gives us control in a healthy way.


Humor was our container in hospital, and it created a common ground to bring us all together.

How did we all find a way to laugh, even when I was close to death myself, fighting for my own survival?

My brother dated the ICU nurses.

Mom watched Everybody loves Raymond.

We set up bowling games with medicine cups in hallway (we were repurposing, seeing things differently!)


Laughing at yourself can give you the confidence to do things (As soon as I was discharged from the ICU, I joined the cast of a local musical.)

If you can make containers as islands through your “detour,” you can swim through, and back into life.

Humor is the container that transports you across the rocky shore.

So is play, and acting like a kid…or animal!

Animals – instinctive play, there’s humor in that (read the book, Waking the Tiger) they lack self consciousness.

Humor allows us to discharge that energy.

All negative emotions can be let out in a healthy container so they don’t eat away at us.

We can decorate that container as creatively as we want – what does creativity mean to you? It can be many things!

Creativity is just any outlet where we can channel the emotion we feel, share it and transform it

My diagnosis had no container, no formal label.

If we can’t put a label on things we get overwhelmed. It feels beyond our control.

Humor gives us ownership. We don’t feel nervous to not have a professional, official  “label” to know how to handle sickness and uncertainty.

We are brave enough to find our own way if we can laugh at risking and failing.

Some moments you just can’t find humor in the moment and that’s okay.

You use mindfulness to be present.

When I started to think of it as energy I got excited – creative fuel – it’s why the tortured artist gets excited by torture but doesn’t have to stay tortured

What are ways to transform that energy?

Mindfulness: felt sensations, get your head out of it

You can get to that place of nonthinking that allow animals and kids to PLAY.

ONCE WE naturally discharge that energy, we get that load off our chest. We restore homeostasis – that means we feel balance – thanks to humor!

How does humor help you?

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