Laugh with Me!: The Role of Humor in Relationship Building

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1 Laugh with Me!: The Role of Humor in Relationship Building Pioneer Network 13 th Annual Conference Bellevue, WA Concurrent Session F Wednesday, August 14 8:00am 9:30am (yikes, that s early!) Ann McQueen, MS, PhD Portland Community College Portland, OR McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 1 of 15

2 Laugh with Me: The Role of Humor in Relationship Building Session F Wednesday, August 14, 8am 9:30am Thank you for your interest in this session! Since you are willing to get up bright and early to attend, the least I can do is try and offer you something meaningful and valuable on your culture change journey! In our 90 minutes together, we ll cover a lot of material, learn from one another, and hopefully, share some belly laughs. Parts of the session are interactive, and you are encouraged to participate as much or as little as you feel comfortable no pressure! You ll come away with the tools and knowledge to support a playful culture in your community, thereby enhancing the lives of those who live, work, and visit. Here is the basic content of our session: Part 1 What is Humor? How we define humor, and why it is important to do so The four basic humor styles (and which one you use most often) The importance of person centered humor Part 2 Funny Research Mental and physical health benefits of humor and laughter Part 3 Hilarious or Deleterious: Is Humor Always the Best Medicine? The many functions of humor in conversation and communication Humor related social interactions: the good, the bad, and the ugly Implications of what we ve discussed so far Part 4 Putting This Stuff to Use in Everyday Life With residents With your team of staff With families and friends Make a plan for your triumphant return to your community McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 2 of 15

3 Humor Styles Questionnaire (Martin et al, 2003) 1. I usually don t laugh or joke around much with other people. 2. If I am feeling depressed, I can usually cheer myself up with humor. 3. If someone makes a mistake, I will often tease them about it. 4. I let people laugh at me or make fun at my expense more than I should. 5. I don t have to work very hard at making other people laugh I seem to be a naturally humorous person. 6. Even when I m by myself, I m often amused by the absurdities of life. 7. People are never offended or hurt by my sense of humor. 8. I will often get carried away in putting myself down if it makes my family or friends laugh. 9. I rarely make other people laugh by telling funny stories about myself. 10. If I am feeling upset or unhappy I usually try to think of something funny about the situation to make myself feel better. 11. When telling jokes or saying funny things, I am usually not very concerned about how other people are taking it. Never or very rarely Rarely Sometimes Often Very often or always McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 3 of 15

4 12. I often try to make people like or accept me more by saying something funny about my own weaknesses, blunders, or faults. 13. I laugh and joke a lot with my closest friends. 14. My humorous outlook on life keeps me from getting overly upset or depressed about things. 15. I do not like it when people use humor as a way of criticizing or putting someone down. 16. I don t often say funny things to put myself down. 17. I usually don t like to tell jokes or amuse people. 18. If I m by myself and I m feeling unhappy, I make an effort to think of something funny to cheer myself up. 19. Sometimes I think of something that is so funny that I can t stop myself from saying it, even if it is not appropriate for the situation. 20. I often go overboard in putting myself down when I am making jokes or trying to be funny. Never or very rarely Rarely Sometimes Often Very often or always 21. I enjoy making people laugh. 22. If I am feeling sad or upset, I usually lose my sense of humor. 23. I never participate in laughing at others even if all my friends are doing it. McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 4 of 15

5 24. When I am with friends or family, I often seem to be the one that other people make fun of or joke about. 25. I don t often joke around with my friends. 26. It is my experience that thinking about some amusing aspect of a situation is often a very effective way of coping with problems. 27. If I don t like someone, I often use humor or teasing to put them down. 28. If I am having problems or feeling unhappy, I often cover it up by joking around, so that even my closest friends don t know how I really feel. 29. I usually can t think of witty things to say when I m with other people. 30. I don t need to be with other people to feel amused I can usually find things to laugh about even when I m by myself. 31. Even if something is really funny to me, I will not laugh or joke about it if someone will be offended. 32. Letting others laugh at me is my way of keeping my friends and family in good spirits. Never or very rarely Rarely Sometimes Often Very often or always McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 5 of 15

6 Humor and Additional Heart Disease Protection (based on the University of Maryland Medical Center survey (2009): 1. If you were shopping by yourself and you unexpectedly saw an acquaintance, how would you respond? 1. I would probably not have bothered to speak to the person 2. I would have talked to the person but wouldn't have shown much humor 3. I would have found something to smile about in talking with him or her 4. I would have found something to laugh about with the person with the person 2. If you were awakened from a deep sleep in the middle of the night by the ringing of the telephone, and it was an old friend who was just passing through town and had decided to call and say hello, how would you respond? 1. I wouldn't have been particularly amused 2. I would have felt somewhat amused but would not have laughed 3. I would have been able to laugh at something funny my friend said 4. I would have been able to laugh and say something funny to my friend with my friend 3. If you accidentally hurt yourself and had to spend a few days in bed, how would you respond? 1. I would not have found anything particularly amusing 2. I would have smiled occasionally a lot and laughed from time to time 4. I would have found quite a lot to laugh about much of the time 4. When you have been engaged in some lengthy physical activity (e.g., swimming, hiking, skiing) and you and your friends find yourselves to be completely exhausted I wouldn't have found it particularly amusing 2. I would have been amused, but wouldn't have shown it outwardly 4. I would have found quite a lot to laugh about much of the time 5. If you arrived at a party and found that someone else was wearing a piece of clothing just like yours I wouldn't have found it particularly amusing 2. I would have been amused but wouldn't have shown it outwardly 4. I would have laughed McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 6 of 15

7 6. If a friend gave you a puzzle to solve and you found, much to your friend's surprise, that you were able to solve it very quickly I wouldn't have found it particularly amusing 2. I wouldn't have been amused, but wouldn't have shown it outwardly 4. I would have laughed 7. On days when you've had absolutely no responsibilities or engagements, and you've decided to do something you really enjoy with some friends, to what extent would you have responded with humor during that day? 1. The activity we were engaged in would not have involved much smiling or laughter 2. I would have been smiling from time to time, but wouldn't have had much occasion to laugh aloud frequently and laughed from time to time 4. I would have laughed aloud quite frequently much of the time 8. You were traveling in a car in the winter and suddenly the car spun around on an ice patch and came to rest facing the wrong way on the opposite side of the highway. You were relieved to find that no one was hurt and no damage had been done to the car I wouldn t have found it particularly amusing. 2. I would have "smiled to myself," but wouldn't have shown my amusement outwardly 4. I would have laughed 9. If you were watching a movie or TV program with some friends and you found one scene particularly funny, but no one else appeared to find it humorous, how would you have reacted most commonly? 1. I would have concluded that I must have misunderstood something or that it wasn't really funny 2. I would have "smiled to myself," but wouldn't have shown my amusement outwardly visibly 4. I would have laughed aloud 10. If you were having a romantic evening alone with someone you really liked (spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.) I probably would have tended to be quite serious in my conversation 2. I'd have smiled occasionally, but probably wouldn't have laughed aloud much 3. I'd have smiled frequently and laughed aloud from time to time 4. I'd have laughed aloud quite frequently 5. I'd have laughed heartily much of the time McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 7 of 15

8 11. You thought you recognized a friend in a crowded room. You attracted the person's attention and hurried over to him or her, but when you got there you discovered you had made a mistake and the person was a total stranger I would not have been particularly amused 2. I would have been amused, but wouldn't have shown it outwardly 4. I would have laughed 12. If you were eating in a restaurant with some friends and the waiter accidentally spilled a drink on you I would not have been particularly amused 2. I would have been amused, but wouldn't have shown it outwardly 4. I would have laughed 13. If you were crossing the street at a crosswalk and an impatient driver, who had to stop for you, honked the horn I would have not been amused 2. I would have been amused, but wouldn't have shown it outwardly 4. I would have laughed 14. If there had been a computer error and you had spent all morning trying to get the problem sorted out I wouldn't have found it particularly amusing 2. I would have been able to experience some amusement, but wouldn't have shown it a lot 4. I would have laughed a lot 15. If you were eating in a restaurant with some friends and the waiter accidentally spilled some soup on one of your friends I would not have been particularly amused 2. I would have been amused but wouldn't have shown it 4. I would have laughed McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 8 of 15

9 16. In choosing your friends, how desirable do you feel it is for them to be easily amused and able to laugh in a wide variety of situations? 1. the most important characteristic I look for in a friend 2. very desirable, but not the most important characteristic 3. quite desirable 4. neither desirable nor undesirable 5. not very desirable 17. How would you rate yourself in terms of your likelihood of being amused and of laughing in a wide variety of situations? 1. my most outstanding characteristic 2. above average 3. about average 4. less than average 5. very little 18. How much do you vary from one situation to another in the extent to which you laugh or otherwise respond with humor (i.e., how much does it depend on who you are with, where you are, how you feel, etc.? 1. not at all 2. not very much 3. to some extent 4. quite a lot 5. very much so Add up all of your TOTAL number of points here: A score of 46 or more may mean you have additional laugh protection against heart disease. McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 9 of 15

10 Humorous Social Interactions POSITIVE In general, how often do people here: very often often sometimes not very often never 1. Share jokes or funny stories with you? 2. Use humor to ease something that is bothering you? 3. Use humor to ease a tense or awkward situation? 4. Appreciate your sense of humor? 5. Help you feel better by kidding around with you? 6. Cheer you up with a joke or funny comment? McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 10 of 15

11 Humorous Social Exchanges NEGATIVE In general, how often do people here: very often often sometimes not very often never 1. Make jokes or joking comments that you don t think are funny? 2. Make jokes about another person when he or she is not present? 3. Make jokes or joking comments that offend you? 4. Tell jokes or make joking comments that are insensitive toward others? 5. Make jokes or joking comments that seem to make others uncomfortable? 6. Make jokes that criticize you? McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 11 of 15

12 Sense of Humor Profile Each person is an individual with a unique sense of humor. Finding out answers to the following questions will help care partners figure out what kind(s) of humor will be most successful with each individual. Please note that you may need to rely on family and friends of those with more advanced memory loss to provide some or all of this information. Person s Name: 1. How would you describe the person s sense of humor? (You may want to use words such as playful, likes to tease, sarcastic, likes to tell jokes, etc.) 2. When the person thinks something is funny, how does he or she usually react? smile or grin Knowing a person s usual reaction(s) to humor will help chuckle to him/herself you determine when a person thinks something is funny or laugh or giggle when to try a different approach. roll his or her eyes other (please list) 3. Does/did the person have a favorite joke or funny story? Does the person like to tell the joke/story or hear someone else tell it? If the person has memory loss, is there a punch line or a particular part of the story they still remember? Once you find a phrase or saying that someone finds humorous, you can use it to evoke a laugh or a smile during everyday conversation. If a person with dementia finds something funny, that person may enjoy hearing it repeated several times a day! 4. Who are/were the person s favorite comedian(s)? (Please list below.) Knowing a person s favorite comedian(s) will help you learn more about that person s unique sense of humor. continued on next page McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 12 of 15

13 5. Does/did this person have a favorite radio or television comedy? (Please list all that apply below.) Knowing a person s favorite radio or television comedy will also help you learn more about that person s sense of humor. Many television comedies such as I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners are re run on television or available on DVD. Remember that simply watching the shows is only half the fun. Engaging the person by talking about what you re seeing and laughing together makes for a much more fun and meaningful experience! 6. What kinds of humor might NOT work for this person? Knowing what a person doesn t find funny is often as important as knowing what they do find funny. In addition to the questions listed above, it may be helpful to keep a humor diary for the person. When a care partner notices that the person finds something funny or amusing, he or she can take a few moments to record it in the humor diary. Over time, caregivers may notice a pattern and become better able to predict what kinds of humor interventions may be successful in a variety of situations. Important information for the humor diary may include: What happened? What were the circumstances? What in particular did the person seem to find humorous? How did the person react? (Laughing, smiling, etc.) Were other people involved? What roles did they play? Here is a brief example of an entry from a humor diary: Today, when Mary and I went for our morning walk, we saw some dogs playing in the park. One of the dogs kept chasing its own tail and spinning around in circles. I pointed this out to Mary and said, Look at him go! Mary loved this! We watched the dog for several minutes, laughing, and several times, she repeated the phrase, Look at him go! A couple of times later that day, I reminded Mary about the dog and how funny he looked. Every time I brought up the dog, we both had a good laugh. McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 13 of 15

14 My Plan This is what I want to accomplish: Why this is important to me: Here is what I will do within 72 hours of returning to my community: Here is what I will do within two weeks of returning to my community: Here is what I will do within one month of returning to my community: Here is how I will sustain or add to the positive change I have begun: McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 14 of 15

15 Thoughts on Humor A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast. Humor is the absence of terror, and terror the absence of humor. There is a foolish corner even in the brain of a sage. If there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit. ~ Groucho Marx ~ Lord Richard Buckley ~ Aristotle ~ Anonymous Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh. ~ George Bernard Shaw Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. ~ Kurt Vonnegut Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. ~ William James Nobody ever died of laughter. ~ Max Beerbohm The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and think for ten minutes. ~ William Davis You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants. ~ Stephen King Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. I want to make people laugh so they will begin to see things seriously. You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Humor is... despair refusing to take itself seriously. I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose. You can only be young once. But you can always be immature. ~ Victor Borge ~ William Zinser ~ Robin Williams ~ Arland Ussher ~ Woody Allen ~ Dave Barry McQueen Pioneer Network 2013 Page 15 of 15

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