Why I Love AATH (and why you might want to join)

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I have been a member of Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) for more than 20 years. It’s a pretty nice group to belong to. If you belong, you have already experienced what I am about to describe. If you are not yet a member, you might want to consider joining.  I have memberships in other organizations in this field, but AATH suits me in particular ways that I will try to explain.

AATH epitomizes the sage advice to take your responsibilities seriously but take yourself lightly.

AATH Humor Academy Graduates – Keen Minds, Kind Hearts, Quick Wits

AATH inspired and encouraged me to create the most worthwhile professional endeavor of my life, to reach around the world for humor’s sake, and create the World Laughter Tour.

Walking the Talk: The Medium is the Message
Through the AATH website, newsletter, and especially at their conferences, you get to laugh and learn and be inspired. You get support for being a person who believes that humor and fun are important life forces. You get to associate with the leading thinkers and researchers in the field, and discover that they are accessible and down to earth. You are encouraged to develop your personal brand of accomplishing lofty laughter goals, contributing to a better world, and having fun, too. That alone is worth the price of admission.

AATH is a professional association. You become a member. Membership has its benefits. What attracted me to it in the first place? What keeps me coming back? What do I hope will never change?

The More Things Change, The More I Would Like Some Things to Stay the Same

Change has been trending for several years in how people affiliate, communicate and educate. A trend toward home exercise equipment instead of going out to a fitness club. A trend toward e-mail and texting instead of writing letters or making a phone call.  Updating on social media instead of meeting at the local coffee house. Getting information by surfing the Internet instead of subscribing to print magazines and journals; staying home instead of traveling to attend professional conferences.

These trends have affected AATH. To remain viable, AATH will go with the flow and make changes that will be real improvements. But, some things cannot be replaced with modern technology.

Life is a psycho-social proposition. We are social animals. If we don’t get the social part of life right, we will go psycho! AATH has a beautiful social side.

My AATH friends believe in me even when I am unbelievable. We do that for each other and for everyone who shares that vision.

Rubbing Elbows With the Best & Brightest
Other organizations are more focused on doing the scholarly research about humor, or exploring the literary depths of wit and humor, but AATH is the ‘nuts & bolts’ of therapeutic humor, with a strong focus on practical applications.

Cooler Heads Prevail

AATH helps me understand the science of humor and its implications for the human condition and a better world. The membership is largely clearly compassionate comrades who use their humorous perspectives to promote harmony, peace and love.

AATH communications and conferences are fun, although not just for fun; they are entertaining, but not just for entertainment.

AATH has a nurturing quality toward its members and toward the larger world. We honor those who paved the way, from Hierokles and Philagrios to Norman Cousins, Vera Robinson, Jerry Lewis, Dr. William Fry, Jr., and Red Skelton.

I think these qualities are deep in the roots and origins of AATH, which evolved out of an organization called “NFL – Nurses For Laughter”; healthcare professionals who banded together to support each other to exploit humor in every positive way. They brought with them an appreciation of good science and standards of practice and, in spite of a dearth of evidence compared to what is now available, they had insights into the possibilities that humor could play a significant role in caring and healing. They knew that having fun could bring them relief from their occupational stresses without diminishing their professionalism, and might actually help them be more effective.

The Mix is Magical
In AATH there is an odd mixture of smart, talented, witty people and ideas that I find very appealing. Serious and goofy, supportive and caring friendships, silly and simultaneously trying to illuminate the human condition. This creates an energy and a balance that I like.

Clowns, jugglers, patients, poets, musicians, comedians, educators, and scientists welcome the opportunity to mix it up. A fabulous mix of funny and serious personalities discovers that they are actually like-minded, kind-hearted folks. Some are thinking about humor; most are doing something about it in venues of business, healthcare, and education.

This is the place where I can take in a lecture on ‘humor and pain’, perform my yo-yo tricks, join my esteemed colleagues putting napkins over our heads while miming eating clown noses at a banquet, and watch otherwise serious professionals let loose creative send-ups of who we are.


I hope that the values and character that come from the roots of AATH will not change. They are reasons I have maintained my membership for so many years.

From time to time, I attend the conferences of related organizations, but, AATH remains my favorite. I hope it will thrive and grow and make a place for people like me for a long, long time.

Every week during the 16 seasons of the series of Dancing With The Stars,contestants have been kept in suspense as to whether they are “safe” and will get to compete again, or whether they are “in jeopardy” and therefore might have to leave the show.

Being in jeopardy is nerve-wracking. Being safe is uplifting, and it renews hope.

My wish for AATH: Be safe and stay seriously funny for a long time. Continue to be vibrant and relevant and fun in your own unique way. I’m glad I am a member.

Maybe you would like to join, too? AATH
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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 https://www.worldlaughtertour.com and http://www.humormonth.com.