As the author of B is for Balance, 12 Steps to having balance in life and at work, and as one who has lived it, I know the important of laughter…the best medicine. With today’s hectic pace, we need a few moments of daily laughter—the more the better. It is free of charge and readily available. In the face of frequently dispiriting news from around the globe, it is easy to become glum and irritable, and that can quickly and quietly throw off your balance. What can laughter do? Laughter is good for you and your health. It relaxes the entire body, boosts the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins, and protects the heart! Laughter makes you feel good, relaxes you, and relieves tension. Woe – are you starting to realize the impact that a smile, a little, joy, and a good laugh can have in your own life?
I have taken my career to new levels – consistently reinventing myself along the way, but always appreciating the joy in each step of the journey. Have something in your workplace that makes you happy, that fulfills you, and that makes you smile.
As a diploma graduate from Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing, Philadelphia, I continued my education in Florida and Texas as I moved around the country and around the globe – somewhat of a pioneer at the time. No, I was not in the military, although that might have been a great choice. Rather, my husband, a successful hospital CEO, and I took turns relocating for one another – always advancing within our careers. During this time, I also had three children…and they became expert networkers as they navigated within school systems and new neighborhoods. To some, this might appear stressful. To us, it represented a journey, an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and to exercise humor in the process.
And so, our journeys enabled us to own 14 homes in as many states and an apartment in Moscow. Our journeys enabled us to look on the bright side of moving about – clean closets, constant purging, lack of clutter and the development of incredible organizational skills. In spite of this constant activity, or per- haps because of it, our adult children are incredibly well-adjusted, outgoing, and yes, they do see laughter as the best medicine.
As director of the Office of International Affairs for an 1800-hospital alliance, I created partnership opportunities for our North American hospitals and their foreign counterparts. I served as U.S. advisor to the Kremlin Hospital (Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow) for 10 years and created the international patient department.
As founder of the International Nursing Leadership Institute (INLI) hosted by the American International Health Alliance, I had the opportunity to collaborate with many nurse leaders as we shared knowledge and expertise with our peers from the new independent States of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern European nations. We focused on learning as fundamental and we put the edutainment in education. Our goal was to create a cadre of nurse leaders/educators. A series of leading management books were used by faculty to generate the curriculum. Students and faculty, in full costume, acted out the stories. For example, the parable, Who Moved My Cheese, encouraged students to have contingency plans and to expect change. The book, The Oz Principle, told students that they could be or do whatever they wanted…if they wanted it badly enough! The book, Goldilocks on Management, featured a series of revisionist fairy tales for serious managers. Thirty-four of our graduates have been granted international membership in the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) and many more have been inducted as community leaders within the Honor Society of Nursing (STTI). And, in 2014, we chartered the first chapter of STTI in all of Eastern Europe, in the Republic of Armenia.
So, what about laughter? For years, our children referred to me as 50 percent…meaning that 50 percent of the time (or less), I had a good sense of humor. I actually “got” a joke; I could laugh at myself. I think that I have now graduated to nearly 90 percent. Sometimes, I am the first to see the humor in a situation or to come up with a great line. Of course, family members are still amazed! Sometimes, I get “it” – whatever “it” might be! And, my level of awareness has increased as I have transitioned within my career from a focus on intervention to one of health and wellness – prevention and health promotion.
It is fascinating to work with colleagues who embrace ownership of one’s body and the need to advocate for self-care, self-reflection, meditation and laughter. Laughter definitely has a place within every aspect of one’s life. Laughter has enabled me to change my mindset, shift my paradigms and it has enhanced my well-being! As nurses, we all need to assume responsibility for the joys of life! As nurses, we work in stressful environments. Humor allows us to deal with stress more effectively; humor impacts healing and recovery time. And, humor has enabled me to grow personally and professionally. As I have transitioned within my career, a sense of humor has definitely helped. In my work with foreign Ministers of Health, Education and Finance, I always needed to see the big picture of what was possible, but perhaps not always probable. In my consulting practice, I have integrated humor in my work related to positive practice environments and wellness.
So, like me, step back, look at the big picture and use that perspective to help people feel good about themselves…that is the critical skill that′s allowed me to touch the lives of people like you and me on a global scale! I have had a long and exciting nursing career; I often joke that I should be at least 100 years of age given all that I have crammed into 40 years as a nursing professional. And, the best is yet to come as I continue to enlighten audiences around the globe with my speaking style and sense of humor!
“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”- Anthony Burgess