Consider this an “unrestraining order” from the court of Terry Braverman: Today we are all afflicted to some degree with S.D.S. (Spontaneity Deficiency Syndrome). It is appalling in our society how much we miss enlivening opportunities by censoring our own spontaneity. “Well, I’m trying to find time to be spontaneous,” a harried business acquaintance once muttered. Indigenous tribal people tend to release their pent-up emotions through singing, dancing, chanting, and wearing wild costumes. How many of us would feel comfortable doing that in front of our families?
We have largely suppressed or forgotten spontaneity in the maze of our busyness, our plans, our rational thinking, and our control mechanisms. S.D.S. is a major cause of stress in our world. When we are in a lot of physical pain it takes some strong medicine to get relief. If the pain is emotional, we often need a strong jolt to regain our perspective. A dose of silly nonsense may just do the trick.
One time I was on the phone with a rep from a customer service department to lodge a complaint. My frustration was growing and I decided to vent by singing my complaint in an operatic voice. The rep was laughing hysterically and said, “Wait, I’m putting my supervisor on the line!” I continued to sing and the supervisor resolved my issue immediately in the spirit of fun established, as opposed to tension and conflict.
I cringe when I see people being scolded for acting too silly. Of course there are situations that demand an overall serious tone, but more often than not it’s the “grow up and get serious” parental mentality at work, stifling the natural stress relief of playful expression. It will amaze you to know that the word silly comes from the Old English word saelig, which was a blessing. It meant “to be happy, prosperous and wise.” On the other hand, adult comes from the word adulterate, meaning “to corrupt, debase, or make impure.”
Some claim variety to be the spice of life…I say it’s spontaneity.
In my seminars and workshops, it thrills me to witness accumulated stress draining from the faces and bodies of participants. I’ve received a number of positive letters from various companies and organizations, but none were more gratifying than the following:
Your seminar on humor was great. I particularly related to your discussion on stress, and others sharing their experiences of how stress had manifested itself. I identified totally. Since your seminar, I’ve had no more headaches, no more clenched jaws, no more Valium, Xanax, Halcion or sleepless nights. I’ve shared my experience with co-workers. Thanks for a real eye-opening exchange.
I spoke again with Mr. Simons, three years after the fact. He is still free of the afflictions and takes no medication. I think of the workshop as a collective creation between myself and the participants, where credit is due to no one in particular other than group synergy and intent. Making such a dramatic impact on Mr. Simons’ health says a lot for the value of humor and play. Clearly, there was a shift in his thinking that took place in an atmosphere of mirth, causing a positive physiological response. Dr. Deepak Chopra once said, “Our thoughts, without reservation, tend to make us healthy or sick.” I might add that our reservations (doubts), without changing our thoughts, tend to make us sick.
In times of despair, we instinctively turn to humor, comedy, and play for its uplifting effects. For the individual suffering mental and physical anguish associated with their circumstance, humor can lift the spirit and reduce suffering for the moment, if not permanently.
Excerpt from an Amazon best-seller, When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Lighten Up!
c Mental Floss Publications
All Rights Reserved
According to a recent study, the only folks getting enough sleep on a consistent basis are those who have stopped working, and are living out their days in relaxation. ABC News reported that the same was true for people whose mental or physical conditions make them unable to work. Surveys done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the amount of sleep for people varies by age, and younger people are getting the least amount of sleep among the tested age groups. The proper amount of sleep, which is about 7-9 hours for adults, is obtained by people upon retirement. Sleep deprivation is typically caused by work, academic, and family stress, plus lifestyle habits, such as late-night television, Internet use, ingestion of caffeine or other stimulants, and late night partying. Some helpful thoughts about getting enough shut-eye:
• Sleep seems to organize memories, as well as help you to recover memories. After you learn something new, sleep may solidify the learning in your brain;
• Parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making, and social interactions slow down dramatically during sleep, allowing optimal performance when awake. REM sleep seems especially important for a good mood during the day. Tired people are often cranky and easily frustrated;
• Lacking adequate sleep makes the immune system become weak, and the body becomes more vulnerable to infection and disease;
• Some sleep experts suggest that neurons used during the day repair themselves during sleep. When we experience sleep deprivation, neurons are unable to perform effectively, and the nervous system is impaired;
• Growth hormones are released during sleep, and sleep is vital to proper physical and mental development;
• Depression is two times more common for college students, than in the general population, affecting nearly 20% of students. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to this high rate. Additionally, inadequate amounts of sleep cause increased susceptibility to illnesses such as colds and flu;
• Many college students make the mistake of staying up late or pulling all-nighters to prepare for an exam or to complete an assignment. In reality, not getting enough sleep makes it more difficult for them to process, analyze, and retain information, and manage stress;
• Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. Getting up at the same time is most important. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will also help;
• Taking a nap during the day is not recommended because it reduces the amount of time a person sleeps at night. If necessary, take your nap early in the day and for no more than 20-30 minutes;
• Keep your bedroom at comfortable temperature. Not too warm and not too cold. Cooler is better than warmer;
• Do not exercise at least 3 hours before bed;
• Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful;
• Bedtime routines are helpful for good sleep. A cup of herbal tea an hour before bed can begin a routine. Sleeping pills and other sleep aids actually reduce sleep quality;
• Avoid looking at the clock if you wake up in the middle of the night. It can cause anxiety. This is very difficult for most of us, so turn the clock away from your eyes so you would have to turn it to see the time. You may decide not to make the effort and go right back to sleep;
• If you can’t get to sleep for over 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in dim light till you are sleepy;
• Avoid sugary foods like chocolate, which make falling asleep more difficult. If you are hungry close to bedtime, eat a light carbohydrate or dairy snack instead. In small quantities, eating something light can sometimes help you fall asleep. Have you heard the notion that a bottle of milk puts a baby to sleep? The same can work for adults;
• Watching TV or using laptop computers late at night is not recommended. Reading in bed can be a problem if the material is overly stimulating and you read with a bright light. If it helps to read before sleep, try soothing material and make sure you use a very small wattage bulb to read. A 15 watt bulb should be enough;
• Don’t stress if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. Know you will sleep eventually.
(Resource: National Sleep Foundation)
Summer is here, and the time is right to commune with family and friends over lavish meals, aided and abetted by healthy gales of laughter.
The positive impact that laughter has on our well-being is nothing new. Throughout history, clowns, fools and court jesters plied their trade not only to entertain, but to heal people, impart wisdom, and exercise diplomacy, acting as ambassadors to other kingdoms for building goodwill and defusing conflict. The court jesters pranced around the imperial courts with a patented blend of whim and wit. It was their privilege to say whatever they wished. Usually a great ruler was surrounded by flatterers, and only from the jester did he ever hear the truth.
The jester’s business was to tickle the royal funny bone, divert the king from the tedium of his daily affairs, and serve a slightly skewed yet enlightening perspective on those affairs of the court. Jesters also assisted his Majesty’s digestion, rubbing the regal tummy the right way with their lively presence at the dining table. “Laughter is one of the most important aids to digestion with which we are acquainted,” said the Prussian professor Hufeland. “The custom in vogue among our ancestors, of inciting laughter by jesters and buffoons, was founded on true medical principles. Cheerful and joyous companions are invaluable at meals; obtain such, if possible, for the nourishment received amid mirth is productive of light and healthy blood.”
Excerpt from the book, “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Lighten Up!”
c 2013 All Rights Reserved
Mental Floss Publications
The other day I read a story about a man who became enraged after having to wait in a doctor’s office for over an hour. He stormed over to the receptionist’s window and screamed at a staff member, then suddenly froze, turned a pale color, and collapsed onto the floor, never to regain consciousness. The autopsy revealed nothing physically wrong with this person. His death was attributed to angry thoughts, which sparked a massive coronary.
Patience is often interpreted as stoical endurance of pain and hardship, but it goes well beyond that definition. It is more about embracing the situation exactly the way it is in that moment, and responding in a resourceful or transcendent state of mind. Patience has a deeper aspect of intelligence and wisdom. This is not to be confused with the example of a braying mule overloaded with saddlebags, trudging along a bumpy path until it drops dead. That type of patience is without clarity. Forbearing difficult circumstances can be about struggling to get through something, but developing true patience is a discipline that allows us to be in a flexible flow as situations unfold.
A sense of humor can be a powerful ally to overcome impatience, helping us (and others) re-frame perspective and transcend the difficulties of the moment. A customer service rep I know handled an irate client’s complaint over the phone by saying, “I can certainly appreciate why the situation would anger you. We’ve been in business here for over 60 years; perhaps, we’ve become a bit senile.” The client laughed heartily and the rep was able to resolve the grievance immediately.
If patience was a commodity, it seems to be in shorter supply these days. As a result, we pay a higher price for it in terms of our collective well-being and societal civility (road rage, domestic violence, et al). Next time that impetuous flash of impatience rears its head, take a deep breath, perceive the moment from a broader context, and ask yourself if there is another way of looking at it. Or, put yourself in the shoes of your favorite comedian—how would he/she respond in that situation?
Are you in or coming to L.A.? In this frenetically-paced city, Tikkun Holistic Spa is the ideal sanctuary of serenity and renewal within the urban jungle.
You can order your individual treatments a la carte or as a combo – a relaxing green tea soak in a luxurious stone tub, an infrared Himalayan Salt Cave for detoxification, Korean mineral body scrub, Volcanic Clay Treatment, ultrasound facial, foot soak and jade stone massage treatment.
Arrive early to enjoy the immense communal jacuzzi, the sauna, and steam rooms, sans a crowd!
Street address: 1460 4th Street, Santa Monica
Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Daily
©2013 Excerpt from “”L.A. Made Easy: From Iconic to Eclectic” by Terry Braverman All Rights Reserved
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Today we are all afflicted to some degree with SDS (spontaneity deficiency syndrome). It is appalling in our society how much we miss merry-making opportunities by censoring our own spontaneity. “Well, I’m trying to find time to be spontaneous,” a harried business acquaintance once muttered.
Indigenous people tend to release their emotions and heal what ails them in the moment, through singing, dancing, chanting, and wearing wild costumes. How many of us would feel comfortable doing that in front of our families? We have largely suppressed or forgotten spontaneity in the maze of our busyness, our plans, our rational thinking, and our control mechanisms.
SDS is a major cause of stress in our world. When we are in a lot of physical pain it takes some strong medicine to get relief. Fun-induced laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, to quell the pain. A pattern interruption for mental anguish can help us refocus. If the pain is emotional, we often need a strong jolt to regain our perspective. A dose of silly nonsense may just do the trick to heal the hurts of the body, the mind, or the heart.