Game On! How to Create Positive Activity Interventions

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Yo-Yo c. 600BC

Game On! is the name of the book I have written for “How to Create Positive Activity Interventions,” which is the working title of a course I have designed to advance the development of therapeutic humor and laughter by a revolutionary leap. It will fortify and extend clinical practice and training with positive activity leadership skills.

We are now seeing more and clearer evidence for a major expanded role for humor, laughter, mirth, games, meditations, and other positive activities, in health, happiness, and improved human relationships.

Learning Positive Activity Intervention (PAI), professionals and lay persons will be able to incorporate elements of a variety of additional activities, beyond laughter exercises, that show great promise for ameliorating health challenges and paving the path to happiness.

Students of Game On! will be able to deliver programs that are stronger as therapeutic interventions, powerful boosts to achieving workplace objectives, strong supports for educational environments, and keys to enjoying life, i.e., happiness.

Game On! will save untold years off of the learning curve because I have been studying PAI in one form or another for more than 30 years. For Game On! I have distilled and synthesized the best thinking and practices so that they can be learned and put them into practice quickly. And, students will have an additional credential under the auspices of World Laughter Tour, to attest to their expertise.

From Harvard Business Review, January-February 2012, “Emerging research from neuroscience, psychology, and economics makes the link between a thriving workforce and better business performance absolutely clear.” In other words, there is undeniable scientific evidence that happy employees are more creative, more productive, healthier and more satisfied. Yet, for many people, the way to happiness, to more positive emotions, more positive thoughts, and more positive behaviors remains elusive.

Game On! will show the way.

Dreidel c.100BC

Speakers, trainers, teachers, medical, mental health and human services professionals and volunteers are about to make a quantum advance in audience participation and client self-administered programs that is memorable, meaningful, energizing, and fun.

Many of us have been intrigued with, studying and advocating the power of humor to heal, to improve the educational environment, to improve workplace environments, and to enjoy life more.

Those (6,000 or so) who have completed the basic course in “How to Create Therapeutic Laughter”,  have a basic understanding of leading groups in activity experiences; they know about the physiology, neurology, psychology, attitudinal influences, and social psychology of laughter, health and well-being; and they have some experience in planning and conducting related programs. They have a better than average understanding of the difference between humor and laughter.

Over the past 20-30 years, we have refined our knowledge and application of the field to differentiate laughter and mirth from humor, to develop specific activities around each which are thought to be therapeutic.

During that time, there has been a growing awareness and respect for other activities (interventions) such as therapeutic or caring clowns, non-competitive games, relaxation theory, and meditation practices.

The advent of the concept of Positive Activity Intervention, and the benefits suggested by research (Delivering Happiness, Layous et al, 2011), begs the question of a synthesis of theories and activities, and represent a significant next step in illuminating the human condition.

Board Game c. 1870

Putting together courses of study will fortify a variety of clinical and professional practices in this regard, as well as for volunteers and others who do have extensive professional training.

In the Western world, in what might be called modern times, starting in the mid-1960s, work on the concept mostly was centered on humor, with laughter taking a kind of back seat. This idea got a huge boost in 1979, when Norman Cousins published “Anatomy of an Illness.” Although Cousins was advocating humor as possibly the main source of his recovery from an illness, he became known as the man who laughed himself well. Indeed, most of the science of humor actually employs protocols based on the act of laughing.

Video Games c.1972

Various organizations that sprung up on the topic focused on humor, with humor and laughter treated pretty much as one thing: The Humor Project with its newsletter “Laughing Matters”; the International Society for Humor Studies, with the journal “Humor;” the European Summer Humor Institute; the American Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, formed out of an organization called Nurses for Laughter (NFL); Patch Adams’ Gesundheit Institute, with the vision of a ‘happy hospital’; Wavy Gravy’s Camp Winnarainbow, blending humor, laughter, clowning, and performance art with peace and love; the International School of Laughter and Well-being in France
(formerly the French School of Laughter), with a 5-to-7 week training program.

Impressed and fascinated by Joel Goodman’s humor education courses, I joined this non-movement movement in 1984.

All along, there had been references to arcane Tibetan Buddhist laughter practices, but the mainstay, and the research, seemed to be about humor, comedy, jokes, finding humor, sensing humor, and developing one’s sense of humor.

Dr. William Fry, Jr., had long before (c.1964) suggested that humor (a psychological phenomenon), laughter (a physical act/reaction), and mirth (an emotional state) could and should be separated for certain purposes of research, practice, and understanding.

It was not until I returned from India (1998),  where I had been invited to lecture about positive work environments, which was a variation on the theme of “Putting Humor to Work at Work,” that I felt it was important, and possible, to distinguish laughter from humor as separate human capacities with therapeutic implications and applications.

In 1999, World Laughter Tour created a curriculum for laughter therapy based on the psychologic model familiar to the Western world in the form of Music Therapy, Art Therapy, and Activity Therapy, which required broadening the definition of “therapeutic” along the lines suggested and adopted by positive psychology.

Game On! gives access to a variety of approaches that will appeal to a broad spectrum of the population that seeks happiness or a boost in the management of a variety of ills from mood issues to the classroom environment, from supporting primary treatment for physical health to improving morale and productivity in the workplace.

Non-competitive Games c.1986

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About the Author

Steve Wilson

Award-winning psychologist, Steve Wilson, also known as The Joyologist and The Cheerman of the Bored, has spent 30 years specializing in applied and therapeutic humor with a humanitarian mission. As Director of National Humor Month, he intertwines science and ancient wisdom with substance and humor to create practical methods to lead the world to health, happiness and peace through laughter. More than six thousand people have completed his unique training in how to create therapeutic laughter, and tens of thousands more around the world have been uplifted by his talks, classes, books, and articles. He established the World Laughter Tour, Inc., in 1998, to be a rich resource and inspiration for improving productivity, health, and well being in business, healthcare and education. For more information and