April Is a Time to Humor Yourself

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April is Humor Month, a good time to remember that relaxed learners learn more. People worried about the state of their brains will be more successful if they focus on feeding their curiosity and having fun.

April is Humor Month and if you are worried about the state of your brain, it's a good time to remember not to take learning too seriously because relaxed learners learn more. That is the advice of Kathy Laurenhue, M.A., author of the downloadable, subscription-based Brain Aerobics Weekly.

"When people are stressed, they tend to be more forgetful and accident-prone and, especially if they are older, they start to worry that this is a permanent condition - that their brains are deteriorating. Then they go to their doctors and their doctors tell them to do crossword puzzles or learn a foreign language, and unless they are very good at such things, that just leaves them more stressed," says Ms. Laurenhue. There is even a new pop culture term for such people: the "worried well."

Is there an alternative? "Do something you love or something that makes you laugh," Ms. Laurenhue advises. The goal is to build new dendrites - little branches in the brain that enable us to make new connections, literally like branches of a tree reaching out to one another. Every time you learn something new, you are making those new connections.

"Humor is great for that," notes Ms. Laurenhue, "because when you are looking at the funny side of a situation, it means you are looking at it in a new way. For example, Steven Wright is a comedian who is great at asking new questions. Everyone learns the speed of light in science class, but he asks, 'What's the speed of dark?' Most of us don't think of questions' opposites, and when we do, they often catch us off-guard and make us laugh."

Another advantage of listening to people who tickle our funny bone is that they remind us to be curious. Comedians are curious about how they can twist ordinary situations into something funny. Most of the rest of us also have something we love - gardening, baseball, Broadway musicals - that lends itself to encouraging our curiosity, and it is through pursuing that curiosity that we build new dendrites.

"If I love gardening," notes Ms. Laurenhue, "I am going to enjoy planning what I will plant." The skills involved in that may be mathematical (figuring out how much space to devote to various plants), botanical (what grows well in the region) and creative (color combinations, varying heights). "If you start with something you love," says Ms. Laurenhue, "you are likely to tap into many skills you might not otherwise use, while still having fun. Having fun isn't always about laughing - ha-ha. Some of it is about satisfying curiosity - ah-ha! And some of it is just feeling enjoyment and pleasure - aahhhh." If that sounds good to you, start humoring yourself today.

Kathy Laurenhue is CEO of Wiser Now, Inc. (http://www.wisernow.com). Learn more about Brain Aerobics Weekly at http://www.brainaerobicsweekly.com or call 800-999-0795 for additional samples and information. © 2008 Wiser Now, Inc.

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