From the Mouths of Members: First Aid for Your Funny Bone

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Karen Lee

This story was shared by a SparkPeople member who wrote a newsletter about the healing power of humor for eight years. To help friends who are going through a rough time, she suggests making a Funny First-Aid Kit to brighten dark days!

A girlfriend with breast cancer taught me you can be seriously ill, but you don't have to be terminally serious. In fact there is a saying in hospice, "If your time hasn't come, not even a doctor can kill you." I read Norman Cousins' landmark book, Anatomy of an Illness, which documented how belly laughs helped him be pain free and overcome a life-threatening condition. He found that 10 minutes of good belly laughter could keep him pain free for hours.

I began to create collections of "Giggle Gadgets" to help jump-start the laughter of my friends who were ill, feeling down or hospitalized. Sometimes when we cannot think of a good reason to laugh, we can use some help. Even if it does hurt to laugh, it is possible to smile a few times a day.

How to Make a Funny First-Aid Kit
Get a shoebox or other storage container, decorate it, and start to add these items: cartoons from the newspaper, jokes you print out, and novelty items. Sometimes magic shops or toy stores or even drug stores have fun items. Try Etch-a-Sketch key chains, fun pens, flashlights (they come in handy for reading without disturbing someone else in the room), Mad Libs (a group activity), Silly Putty, Groucho Glasses, Clown Noses, Animal Noses, kazoos, stickers, magnets and mugs with fun sayings, humorous greeting cards, bubbles, little bouncy balls, travel games and Laffy Taffy with a joke on every wrapper, which is ideal to serve guests.

These can help pass the time while waiting in the doctor's office, give an anxious person something to fidget with or brighten up the hospital room. Sharing your Funny First-Aid Kit with the doctors might change your medical team's pictures of reality, and they'll begin to view you as a person rather than a disease unit.

I once went to the emergency room wearing a party hat. You can be sure I was treated differently. The whole idea is to change the mood and energy from somber to lightness.

Another bonus of these home-made humor kits is that they do not pose health hazards, such as bacteria that can grow in a well-meaning gift of a flower vase that we typically take to visit people in the hospital.

My philosophy of life is that laughter IS the best medicine: it doesn't cost anything, you can take it anytime you want to and you can't overdose.

Karen Lee published the Laughter Prescription Newsletter from 1989 to 1997. She is dedicated to the healing power of humor. In her spare time Karen ponders the question, “if life is a banquet, what am I doing at the Shoney’s salad bar?”

Do you have an inspiration story you think we should include on the dailySpark? Do you have any funny stories about weight loss? Send them to Include the subject line: From the Mouths of Members

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I love it!!! Thanks!!! Another thing you might add is a "Mr. Potato Head"! In my area, we have a young man, 18-yr-old, who's been fighting leukemia for over a year & has spent lots of time in a children's hospital. His sense of humor has never gone away & he's brightened the lives of many children on the cancer floor & the nurses & doctors too!!! Report
I like that idea I think I will make some of them and take them to the Dr Office and other places and I love to make people laugh and people say they love my laugh and how can I be so happy all the time. Well when I am down I try to make others happy and not bring them down with me.
This was a good idea thank you Report
Thank you Karen! When faced with pain and suffering we often forget to step back, take a breath and relax. Laughter is a treasure and something wonderful to share. Report
There are so many good ideas and great stories on this blog. Keep 'em comin'! Report
Laughter is the best medicine, and Karen, you're the ideal "laugh doctor!" Thanks for some really great, creative ideas. I think Spark should make you a regular blogger here on dailySpark - just my two cents! - Sara Report
This is such a nice idea. I'm getting started on it right away. Report
Great idea, laughter is the best medicine. Good comedies are a great way to get those laughs in. Report
Great idea (s). Report
Laughter first aid kit. Great idea! Report
My family and I already have all of that. We have clown's noses handy, clown's wigs, wistles,fake moustaches, fake glasses with big noses, a book on charades,many boards games,clown make up, some puppets to improvise, jokes books.
It's an excellent idea to have all that in a box, for a rainy day. Report
Fantastic idea. I have started working on a package. Report
This is a fantastic idea. Report
The last day of my mother's life we spent in her hospice room. Family and friends came and though she could no longer talk we spent quite a bit of time laughing. Laughing from the funny stories we had shared over the short time we had her with us. My mom hadn't been able to speak since her stroke in 2004 but that sunny April day in 2007 her laugh could be heard so loudly that it still echos in my mind! Precious are the moments spent laughing with loved ones! Report
Oh how I wish I had this idea when my maternal Grandparents were in the Senior Citizen Home...I think I'll put a box together for our local home. THANKS FOR SHARING!!!! Report
I have a DVD recorder and use it to make "funny" DVDs. I put lots of Saturday Night Live skits, funny commercials, particularly good moments on Punkd, Bugs Bunny cartoons - anything that always makes me laugh. It is also fun to have just playing when you have friends over for a party or card games. Laughter helps, it's the cheapest medicine! Report
If you can laugh at it (what ever it may be) you will win over it. There is funny behind almost anything. Report
I have been on Spark for almost a year and have had great results. Even with exercises I still had loose skin. Another Spark friend told me about a body wrap that removes toxins from the body. I tried it and lost 6 1/2 inches in 3 days and it is toning my skin. I'm very happy with Spark and the wraps. I am still watching my food and still exercising but this wrap was like Spark, a miracle to me. Report
I used to do clowning at a local hospital. It did brighten the days of people I met. A smile or laugh is surely good medicine! I have never thought of making a kit, but plan to make some to keep on hand.
Proverbs 17:22- A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Report
My son, Nathan is having Chemotherapy for testicular cancer, so last week at his treatment the nurse said: There is a therapist here to speak to you if you wish, but is there anything you DON'T want her to ask you about? He said "Yes, I don't want her to ask what it is like to live with only one testicle." So, when the lady came up the nurse said "Well, you can ask him ANYTHING except how it is to live with ONE testicle." and then she laughed. So the therapist said "Well, how is that, since I'm a woman and don't know how it is to live with two?" They all laughed, and then Nathan realized that this was a "set up" so that his real fear could be brought out in the open and talked about. He relaxed then and said to the theapist, "Well, we can all laugh." Report
I had surgery this past week and, though I was initially worried about being awake the whole time, we shared a few good laughs in the OR that I wouldn't have wanted to miss! It definitely helped put a positive spin on the situation Report
What great idea! Thanks for sharing! Report
This is a great article. I gave a memory box to someone who was going through treatment for breast cancer. It was to put cards and notes she got from friend and family. On a down day she could open it up and be reminded how loved she is. Report
Great article Karen. A "smile box" is such a great gift idea. I think this could be a good project for school classrooms or church women's groups to under take to give to hospitals, nursing homes, or hospice centers. Thank- you, thank-you!
Becky Report
What a great idea!!! I'm going to immediately make some for my friends. Report
What a fantastic idea. Report
What wonderful ideas, I love to laugh and make others laugh, great article, thanks Report
I just wrote a blog over the weekend "Optimist/Pessimist" and in there I did include how being pessimistic is going to get you exactly ... NO WHERE, fast!
It pays to have an open outlook on life, I try to find humor in (most) situations, or at least the silver lining.
Having an optimistic view, having humor - certainly makes life brighter, even if just a little! Report
For years now I have been creating what I call "Jan's Journals". They are collections of quotes, humor, cartoons, funny pictures, just about anything. I used to send them weekly to my friends to cheer them up. They are a huge hit. One year I made a "wanted poster" of one of my friends for her birthday. It was a hoot! Be creative. It is so much fun! Report
I read this in a book by Barbara Johnson about 10 years ago. She had been through some hard times with her family. At that time I was grieving the lost of my 11 year old son. I started reading the comics daily and cutting some of them out. I love Family Circle as it usually lifts my spirits. While my son was sick, he watched an Abbot and Costello video that had "Who's on First" many times (that part wore out quickly). It helped him have a better outlook while he was going through chemo. Laughter also relieves stress. Try it. Report
As a nurse who has worked home health & hospice to critical care, I have read the science on this. I am now a Parish Nurse volunteer in my church. I love the ideas presented here. I want to incorporate it some how in my church projects.
Great Blog. Report
the one tv show I will ALWAYs laugh at is _Whose Line is it anyway?"
Lots of clips on youtube Report
I LOVE your idea of a Funny Box!! What a gr8 gift of lightheartedness to give!! THANK YOU for sharing!! Report
Brilliant idea! I simply loved it...and you know what it's not just the sick who need them, each one of us must have it coz we rarely find time and reason to laugh about anything these days. Maybe a daily dose of this kit could work wonders! Thanks fro sharing. Report
When I was going through chemo, I would wear a rainbow-colored beanie hat with a propeller on top. I had two shirts, one that said, "Bald is the New Black" and another that said, "I'm Too Sexy for My Hair." I have since passed on the shirts to a lady in my support group who just started chemo.

I figure if you don't laugh sometimes you'll cry, so it's better to try and laugh. Report
In college, we always kept a list of quotes, so when we graduated, my roommate put the funniest quotes in a mason jar and decorated it. Now, almost 6 years later, when I miss her (she lives 2 and a half hours away) and miss college, I just open up the jar and laugh for hours!! Report
I absolutely love this idea. What a fantastic way to cheer up someone in need! Report
When I'm feeling down, I watch one of two comedians: John Pinette (sp?) or Jeff Dunham. GUARANTEED, I'm laughing within minutes and the bad mood is gone. Report
Sheri, can't wait to see what's in your "daily survival kit". Report
Laughter is a great conforter.Whenever I really need a laugh experences I have most of the old broad (lady) known as Maxceine wisdom that is based on laugther. Report
lol love to laugh lol . . . Report
I make daily survival kits as gifts. I'll look up the contents and reply again. Report
My sister and I recently laughed our way through an awful time in her life. We never would have made it through without the laughter! We made so many other people laugh with us too! Report
75% of our lives should contain laughter and 25% seriousness. A lot more calories would be burned. Report
It's fun, if you give a box of gifts, to wrap each one individually and instruct the recipient to open one a day. For a long hospital stay, that gives one thing to look forward to each day. Report
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