THE HEALING POWER OF HUMOR ABSTRACT Created and Facilitated by Karen Williams, M.Ed HaHA Institute Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved. Humor is empowering! In order to cope in today's hectic world of technological and information explosions, a sense of humor is vital. The power of humor lies in its ability to restore vitality, preserve sanity, strengthen self-identity, and reduce stress. With humor, our busy and complex lives become manageable. Humor is one of the simplest ways to relieve ourselves of excessive emotional and mental baggage. Laughter opens our energy channels and places us directly in the present moment, where memories of the past can no longer burden us, and speculations about the future seem irrelevant. My personal experience with humor, as a stand-up comic and humorist, has taught me that laughter can be healing and transformative. The physical act of laughing releases endorphins, reduces tension, and heightens awareness, thereby allowing the flow of positive energy throughout the body, including the brain. These physical reactions work in harmony with the emotional, physiological, and spiritual aspects of one's life and inspire better health, well-being, and stamina. The real power of humor exists in the mutual recognition of our human frailties and foibles. Humor is a powerful and important cultural tool that we can use individually and collectively to heal ourselves. Those who empower themselves with appropriate humor ensure their own vitality, creativity, and sanity, and endow their lives with enthusiasm, energy, and enlightenment. LEARNING OBJECTIVES: 1. To gain knowledge about the physiological benefits of laughter. 2. To learn ways to utilize humor to reduce stress and "burnout." 3. To improve communications skills with others using appropriate humor.