The latest Happiness Hotline Newsletter

Joyous June everyone,

I trust you had a wonderful May and your June is off to a brilliant start.

For me May was full of travel, surprises and wonderful people.  I headed to the USA to the annual AATH (Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humour) conference and on my return had the joy of a surprise invitation to a 6 day silent retreat.  Those of you who know me well might well be smiling at that thought, who, you?  The laughter lady at a silent retreat!?   OK, it wasn’t totally silent, I ran 2 workshops and while there was lots laughter, definitely some cheering and those Ta Da’s and high fives were never far away, my programs were a little more subdued than usual.

But back to the AATH conference.  As usual the speakers were amazing and while I have a note book full of ideas from every workshop and key note address the one idea I’d like to share was inspired by the amazing Allen Klein.  During his key note address Allen mentioned how quickly someone’s attitude towards him changed when he told them it was his birthday.  I smiled as he told the story because it reminded me of my mother.

In her final years my mother lived with what seemed to me to be a strange type of dementia.  She’d know she’d forgotten something or mistaken someone for someone they weren’t but she simply couldn’t correct her thinking.  She become embarrassed, upset and frustrated about being old and frail and making mistakes and she’d apologise profusely.  Often she’d reduce herself to tears and happily most people were kind and understanding.  One day, as we sat at a table in a café she dropped her cup of tea.   She looked like she was about to burst into tears when suddenly she looked at the waitress and said ‘woops, sorry, it’s my birthday’.  The waitress smiled as she mopped up the tea, wished her a happy birthday and moments later returned to our table not only with a fresh cup of tea but 2 slices of cake resplendent with a single candle.  My mother beamed and the waitress and I, and to our surprise several other people in the café sang the birthday song.   I smiled as my mother blew out the candle, it was October, her birthday was in May.  2 days later she accidently bumped a woman with her walking frame and again ‘Woops, sorry, it’s my birthday”.  The woman smiled and said “Congratulations! Happy Birthday!”  and my mother beamed.  I shook my head and reminded her that it wasn’t actually her birthday and she smiled cheekily and said “I have dementia, I forget”. 

‘Sorry, it’s my birthday’ became my mother’s go to apology.  Not everyone responded positively but most people did and as I look back now I can see how it changed the way she saw her days and it could well have had an impact on the way a few total strangers saw their days as well.  She was still old, and frail and forgetful but the embarrassment, anxiety and frustration were gone and her tears had been  replaced by her cheeky ‘I have dementia -  which was code for I can get away with this and it isn’t doing any harm’ attitude .   

I’ve continued the tradition.  I don’t tell people it’s my birthday, in fact I might not tell anyone I’m celebrating anything at all but I do my best to treat everyone as if it’s their birthday, their special celebration day.  If I’m having a particularly bad day I silently sing the birthday song to myself, it reminds me of my mother and it makes me smile.  It’s a amazing how something as simple as a smile, be it given, received or simply worn, can have such a positive impact!

This month try to take some time to think about the things you celebrate.  Are your celebrations reserved to the usual list of birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Easter and the like or are you like me, the person who celebrates good cups of tea and memories that make you smile and any of the thousands of other things that make up your day, and treats everyone like it’s their special celebration day?

I wish you a wonderful month of celebration. 

I’ll be in Sydney for the Happiness and Its Causes Conference from June 20.  Perhaps I’ll see you there. 

...and did you know that this coming Saturday is National Ball Point Pen day.  I’m not making that up.  Now that’s worth celebrating.

Have a brilliant June. 

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Tailoring inspirational workshops and presentations that increase passion, purpose and profit by building health, well-being, resilience and team cohesion through laughter, humour, Laughter Yoga and Power Break Meditation.

 

 

 

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