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How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?. Nancy D. Losinno, LCSW, CEAP EAP Manager. Laughter is Very Good Medicine. Helps people cope & get through threatening situations;

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how can you laugh at a time like this

How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Nancy D. Losinno, LCSW, CEAP

EAP Manager

laughter is very good medicine
Laughter is Very Good Medicine
  • Helps people cope & get through threatening situations;
  • Looking at life with humor & laughter helps provide perspective & balance when life seems unfair;
  • Humor and laughter are a source of power, healing and survival.
  • “Time Magazine: Special Mind & Body Issue, The Science of Happiness” 1/17/2005
some people try their best to see things optimistically but
Some people try their best to see things optimistically, but:
  • They may have the emotional make-up that sees the “cup as half-empty;”
  • May be too sensitive to outside stressors & lets them inside;
  • May be involved in outside stressors that are “wearing them down:” family illness, family conflicts, $ problems, job problems, etc.
myth of happiness 1
Myth of Happiness #1
  • I will be happy when I have the PERFECT BODY.
  • Reality: People like pretty and good looks can help your popularity and by extension – your career. But good looks on its own does not do any good!
myth of happiness 2
Myth of Happiness #2
  • I will be happy when I AM RICH!!
  • Reality: If you’re poor, money does make a difference but after a threshold of $40,000/yr. more won’t make you happier. But doing better than your neighbor will make you FEEL better.
myth of happiness 3
Myth of Happiness #3
  • I will be happy when I FIND MY SOULMATE!!!
  • Reality: A true love takes many years to evolve, by weathering life’s curve-balls. Constant searching for love can breed depression. Cultivate self-love instead as rx for loneliness.
myth of happiness 4
Myth of Happiness #4
  • I can’t be happy—I cant stand GETTING OLDER!!
  • Reality: Young people are more aware of bad news and negative emotions than older adults. But--aging seems to bias us toward the positive, despite more health challenges!
myth of happiness 5
Myth of Happiness #5
  • I will be happy when I CAN RETIRE FROM THIS JOB!!
  • Reality: Well spent leisure time can bring great happiness. But most of us spend leisure time watching TV even though we’d be happier being more active. Don’t envy your retired friends!
what makes you so happy
What Makes You So Happy?
  • Talking to friends & family W63% M51%
  • Listening to music W55% M52%
  • Praying/meditating W51% M38%
  • Helping others in need W45% M39%
  • Taking bath/shower W47% M35%
  • Playing with pet W38% M30%
  • Exercise/Work out W30% M29%
  • Go out with friends W29% M27%
  • Eat!! W24% M25%
  • Have sex!!! W18% M25%
top 8 sources of happiness for most people
Top 8 Sources of Happiness (for most people)
  • Your relationship with your children 77%
  • Your friends & relationships 76%
  • Contributing to lives of others 75%
  • Relationship with spouse/partner 73%
  • Degree of control over life/destiny 66%
  • The things you do in leisure time 64%
  • Your relationship with parents 63%
  • Your religious/spiritual life/worship 62%
  • Holiday periods, e.q. Christmas 50%
  • Statistical sources: Time Magazine 1/17/05
what is happiness
What Is “Happiness?”
  • Nobody really knows!
  • The word is a kind of emotional placeholder for a set of positive emotional states;
  • A state of well-being where the person is not motivated to change their state—they are motivated to preserve it!
happiness and health
Happiness and Health
  • A positive outlook goes a long way toward reducing the risk/limit the severity of some illnesses;
  • A link exists between depression-obesity-diabetes;
  • Caveat: Cancer patients should not feel that they caused it, nor should they feel obligated to smile through their suffering if they don’t want to. Some cancer patients feel it was a life changing event and maintain an optimistic outlook!
does marriage make you a happier person
Does marriage make you a happier person?
  • Many researchers are testing this idea;
  • People who are content are more likely to get married & stay married;
  • Marriage also improves the lives of people who were formerly lonely/friendless, etc.
  • Couples’ contentedness depends not on how often they argue but HOW they argue. Sarcasm, insults, yelling, etc. are all associated with inc. of stress hormones, as well as increases in DIVORCE.
can money buy you happiness
Can Money Buy You Happiness?
  • Being poor, yes, causes unhappiness because of the relentless frustration/stress;
  • The things that $ can buy keep increasing: designer clothes, SUV’s, personal electronics, bigger & better houses, etc.
  • But, the incidence of depression is increasing: 3 to 10 times more common than in the 1950’s;
  • More visible wealth triggers dissatisfaction, more money creates more desires;
  • People living modestly but anticipating better days to come are more likely to be happier.
now that s funny
  • Humor has many faces: political, sight gags, practical jokes, cartoons, funny sounds, wry humor, “roasting”;
  • Targets of humor: marriage/relationships, professions, “loss of control”, the battle of the sexes, our elected officials, etc.
  • Humor is a perceptual process; laughter is a behavioral response. What one person perceives as funny, may leave another person cold!
humor in times of crisis
Humor in Times of Crisis
  • During a crisis, humor can be experienced by individuals in the crisis as insensitive;
  • Humor aimed at oneself is well-received;
  • Humor aimed at situations is usually safe;
  • As time passes & distance from the crisis is achieved, those most stressed from the crisis may be aided by humor. (“It wasn’t funny at the time, but…”)
laughter as communication
Laughter as Communication
  • Speakers are more likely to laugh than listeners. Reciprocal laughs from the listener are powerful reward pellets which reinforce the direction of the conversation.
  • What we laugh about telegraphs to others about our concerns, worries, etc.
  • We can always keep developing a better sense of humor by not taking ourselves too seriously.
the art of treating unhappiness
The Art of (Treating) Unhappiness
  • Psychotherapy previously focused on bringing clients from a negative, ailing state to a neutral or normal state (from “-5 to a 0”);
  • This thinking is called the “illness model” in psychology which focuses on disabling conditions, bad relationships, neuroses, etc.
  • Is good mental health the absence of “illness?”
  • What traits are associated with good mental health?
the birth of positive psychology
The Birth of “Positive Psychology”
  • Focuses on the development of positive character traits and vibrant/muscular fitness of the mind;
  • “Learned optimism” especially is associated with good physical health, longer life and greater happiness;
  • Is a fascinating new direction for therapists as well as their clients.
how can you learn optimism
How can you “learn optimism”
  • Develop the ability to perceive problems in a more flexible way; turn the problems around from viewing in a traditional focus;
  • Ask yourself “How would so-and-so view this problem?” (A person you admire)
  • Ask yourself “How many ways could I view this problem?” In reality, there is no one true way to view something. All events are really neutral; its our initial perception that counts.
  • Do you have the tendency to view situations through the same emotional lens, even if the people involved are different?
the importance of emotional resilience
The Importance of “Emotional Resilience”
  • Considered a kind of emotional “elasticity” that enables people to bounce back from adversity faster than people who suffer from depression;
  • Early parental bonds, an easygoing temperament and good intelligence give you an advantage for development E.R.;
  • Some negative factors may weaken the development of E.R.: violence, physical/sexual abuse, direct exposure to alcoholism and removal from the home. E.R. is strength against adversity but multiple-risks limit emotional endurance.
developing emotional resilience in children
Developing Emotional Resilience in Children
  • Develop a talent (dance, soccer, softball, etc.) where they learn by “showing up.”
  • Find a champion (someone who believes in your child’s abilities & offers support)
  • The ability to look inside for answers rather than to believe that good luck or having the “right connections” is what counts.
  • Be an advocate for yourself. The most resilient kids are adept in getting good role models into their life and helping them with difficult issues.
more on emotional resilience
More on Emotional Resilience
  • Teach them to help others. We know that the most resilient adults were required to help others (siblings, etc.)
  • Mood and outlook color many types of thinking tasks: making purchasing decisions, doing creative work, etc. Optimists don’t waste time on something that couldn’t be done. Pessimists ensnare themselves in one approach that fails.
  • These coping skills may be what helps them to handle stressful live events.
i love my job
I Love My Job!
  • People who love their jobs feel challenged by their work, but in control of it;
  • They have bosses who make them feel appreciated and co-workers they like;
  • They can find meaning in whatever they do;
  • This takes effort to achieve & is the result of good work habits.
what makes you happy at work
What makes you happy at work?
  • Having what you need to do your job;
  • Knowing what’s expected of you at work;
  • Having a best friend at work;
  • Having a supervisor who cares about you as a person;
  • These needs supersede pay and benefits
a guide for the boss
A Guide for the Boss
  • See team members as individuals. There is no model employee; define your goals and use each employee’s strengths to get there;
  • Don’t talk to employees only when they make a mistake. Most disengaged employees say their boss ignores them.
  • Let the outside world in. Asking employees about their family or weekend lets them know you see them as more than a head count.
  • Friendships ring! When employees find friends at work they feel more connected to their jobs and thus are happier/more productive employees.
  • All employees want to feel that their job matters.
what about god
What About God?
  • People who practice a faith are less stressed than those who don’t;
  • A religion buffers its believers from worry;
  • Religious observers are less depressed, less anxious and better at coping with crises such as illness, divorce, and grief;
  • Attending services is correlated with feeling happy & satisfied with life.
our happiness potential
Our Happiness Potential
  • Our potential for happiness is uniquely imprinted by the light/dark patterns we have brought from our past experiences;
  • Our happiness potential can be cultivated, though we are not guaranteed happiness as an entitlement in our lives;
  • It is something we cannot get enough of and without it we would starve.
your eap
Your EAP
  • Onsite EAP Manager: X4567 Nancy Losinno
  • External EAP vendor: Magellan Behavioral Health, accessible 24/7 at 1-800-327-2182 or
  • You and your household members are covered for 1 to 5 free visits with a community based therapist per person/per problem/per year. Call the 800 number for a referral or visit the BNL EAP office for information about providers who are accepting new referrals.