Jul 10

Laughter in Therapy: Important Quotes That Support It

       “I shyly laugh, inwardly praying she won’t be one of those shrinks who would rid me of my favorite coping mechanism. Sure humor’s a defense – so what?” Daryl Stone, a therapist in therapy, on laughter in therapy, from my novel Minding Therapy

If laughter‘s so good for us, doesn’t it belong in therapy—on either side of the process? (Naturally, I’m referring only to the healthy, not-hurtful kind.) Some quotes by well-known folks who’ve appreciated laughter:

Mark Twain: When you laugh, your mind, body, and spirit change.

Madeleine L’Engle: A good laugh heals a lot of hurts. 

Lord Byron: Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine. 

Bob Hope: I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.

Victor Borge: Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

Bob Newhart: Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.

Ethel Barrymore: You grow up on the day you have your first real laugh at yourself.

William James: We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.

LET’S BACK THIS UP WITH SOME RESEARCH

For further details about any of the following snippets, click on the corresponding resource link.

Melanie Winderlich, Discovery, reports scientific reasons why laughter is healthy: it decreases stress, helps coping skills, and boosts your social skills, among other things.

Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project: “Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity…When people laugh together, they tend to talk and touch more and to make eye contact more frequently.”

Psychologist Ofer ZurThe Zur Instituteasserts that laughter in therapy is cathartic.

Abigail Mellier, Newsfix: “Laughing during therapy is a sign of emotional intensity and good rapport with the therapist….”

Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D, “To Wit or Not to Wit: The Use of Humor in Psychotherapy”: “A humorless therapist robs the therapeutic relationship of playfulness, desensitization and mastery. Albert Ellis (1977) was one of the earliest advocates for humor in psychotherapy. He stated that Rational Emotive Therapy puts the locus of psychopathology at taking one’s self and life too seriously. He believed that humor could be a powerful therapeutic force.”

Jan 01

End Procrastination: You Won’t Regret It Later

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Mark Twain

Maybe one of your New Year’s goals is to end procrastination. Or maybe you have other goals—that maybe will get done someday but definitely not now.

How does one actually end the problem of procrastinating?

A recent post by psychologist Timothy A. Pychyl on his procrastination-themed blog Don’t Delay addresses the response writer Caitlin Moran once gave when asked how she accomplishes so much. Her answer: “Caffeine, alcohol, and fear.” Pychyl: “Although we might all recognize and find amusement in Caitlin’s response…it’s not a recipe for health or well-being if it’s the only route to success. The long-term costs, or the potential costs (because predicting the future is not an exact science), are too high.”

One of the top-rated books in recent years on how to end procrastination is Pychyl’s The Procrastinator’s Digest: A Concise Guide to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle (2010). How does he say we can change our tendency to put things off til an indefinite later? Start with self-awareness; use Pychyl’s test, taken from one of his posts:

The next time you put off a task until tomorrow, telling yourself tomorrow (later) is better, then simply note the next day whether you now believe that tomorrow is better.  Chances are, it’s not. If anything you may feel more guilt and pressure related to the task at hand and yet not have any more motivation to do the task.

So, now that you’re self-aware, what?

One of my favorite quotes is David Campbell’s “Discipline is remembering what you want.” When you remember what you truly want, the doing will follow.

If you’re feeling up for all that motivation-seeking and follow-up, that is.

Oliver Burkeman points out in one of his weekly “This Column Will Change Your Life” articles that most ending-procrastination advisors put less emphasis on the doing part and more on the “how to feel in the mood for getting things done.”

Even in the depths of serious depression, as the author Julie Fast notes, being ‘unable to get out of bed’ in the morning really means, to get technical about it, being unable to feel like getting out of bed…

What if you’re unable to feel like doing whatever it is you think you want to do? And what if that’s your pattern in general? And you’re so terrible at feeling like doing things, actually, that you’re beyond help? Burkeman quotes Shoma Morita, the late Japanese therapist, who basically advises…stop the excuses and self-name-calling already:

‘Give up on yourself. Begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect, or a procrastinator, or unhealthy, or lazy, or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself. Go ahead and be the best imperfect person you can be and get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die.’

Let me know how this works out.

Dec 05

Worry Isn’t Worth It: Some Pithy Quotes On the Subject

Karen Salmansohn: “Worrying is blurrying. It stops you from seeing clearly.”

Corrie Ten Boom: “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength– carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

A.J. Cronin: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, but only saps today of its strength.”

The Buffalo News: “Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

June Hunt: “Worry is most often a prideful way of thinking that you have more control over life and its circumstances than you actually do.”

W.R. Inge: “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due.”

Voltaire: “The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”

Mark Twain: “I am an old man and have had a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

Eckhart Tolle: “What will be left of all the fearing and wanting associated with your problematic life situation that every day takes up most of your attention? A dash, one or two inches long, between the date of birth and date of death on your gravestone.”

Ana Monnar: “Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not.”

Santideva: “If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.”

Dalai Lama XIV: “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

Max Lucado: “How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, ‘Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?’ To which the man responded, ‘That’s your worry.’

Sep 21

“Going Crazy”: Psycholanguage, Slangy Synonyms, Quotes

In addition to “nuts” and “crazy” (or “going crazy”) and “insane” (see the last couple posts), a few other slangy synonyms regarding being mentally unwell—among many others too numerous to mention—are “losing one’s mind,” “nervous breakdown,” and “going mad.” Such terms are often used loosely, usually not intending harm, but it’s important to recognize how and when we use them, as these words can feel stigmatizing and/or offensive to some.

Even the commonly used term “mental illness” is not acceptable to many. Click here for a list of possible alternatives proposed by David Oaks, a “psychiatric survivor human rights activist” and Executive Director of MindFreedom International.

Below are some quotes using the above examples of “psycholanguage” (meaning “words about the psyche”):

Jane Wagner (The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe): “See, the human mind is kind of like…a piñata. When it breaks open, there’s a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the piñata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience.”

Bertrand Russell: “One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky: “Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.”

Rodney Dangerfield: “My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too.”

Margot Kidder: “When I was crazy, I didn’t think of anything but being crazy.”

Albert Einstein: “A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”

Mark Twain: “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

Sam Harris: “It is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the Creator of the universe can hear your thoughts while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window.”

Bobby Heenan: “If you’re poor and you do something stupid, you’re nuts. If you’re rich and do something stupid, you’re eccentric.”

Robert Anton Wilson: “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”

May 03

Listening: Some Quotes–Serious and Humorous–On the Subject

Below are some wise quotes about listening:

Karl Menninger, psychiatrist: “…a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

Amy Bloom, writer and former therapist: “The gap between what people tell you and what’s really going on is what interests me.”

Fran Lebowitz, humorist: “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”

Mark Twain, writer: “Most conversations are monologues in the presence of witnesses.”

Robert McCloskey, author: “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Anonymous: “My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she said.”

Daniel Barenboim, musician: “In English you have this wonderful difference between listening and hearing, and that you can hear without listening, and you can listen and not hear.”

Franklin P. Jones, humorist: “One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least somebody’s listening.”

Rebecca Z. Shafir, author: “Listening intently even for a minute is one of the nicest gifts we can give to another human being.”

Mark Goulston, psychiatrist: “These elements of the Side-by-Side approach—asking questions during a shared moment, and then deepening the conversation with more questions—are as powerful as communication gets: so powerful that they form the core of the Socratic Method. Socrates never told anybody anything; he just walked around town with people asking them questions until they figured out the answers themselves, and in the process he helped create Western civilization.”