Harness Humor with Karyn Buxman

EZ 19 | Harness Humor


Karyn Buxman. Come learn how to harness the power of humor to increase your company’s bottom line!

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Harness Humor with Karyn Buxman

We’re talking about harnessing humor. This is going to be a fun show and I’ll share my own personal perspective on this and then we’ll have a quick break and then I’ll invite a remarkable guest to join us, Karyn Buxman, who is an international expert in the area of humor. It’s funny to be an international expert in humor and not be a comedian, but she is a comedian. She’s a funny lady with a great presentation, a great style. More than that, she has a lot of knowledge about the topics. I wanted to talk a little bit about humor from my own perspective and maybe raise a few questions that our guests would be kind enough to answer for us.

I anticipate a fun conversation. I’ve been thinking a lot about humor for a long time because it’s a big part of what I do for a living. I’m a stage hypnotist, I’m a magician, and I’m a keynote speaker. Every one of those requires a humor as a fundamental part of the process. As a speaker, if I want to read, if I want to reach my audience, if I want to inspire them, and if I want to get their attention, I’ve got to make them laugh. Laughter is an important piece of the learning process. In fact, if you were to look at my website somewhere on there I use the tagline it says, “Laugh, gasp, think, then laugh some more.” That’s the combination. That’s what we want to do. We want to break people’s patterns. We want to stop them from thinking their same old habitual ways of thinking.

Humor, in my mind, is one of the most powerful ways to do that in socially appropriate settings. How do we get our mind’s quiet? We’ve got a limited number of choices. We could learn to meditate, quiet our minds, and we’ll talk a little bit about that. We could go out and look at the beautiful scenery and be awestruck by what we see around us and that will quiet our minds and give us access to our inspiration. We can have sex and after the post-orgasmic bliss, we can experience moments of silence and wisdom, but it’s not practical on stage. We turned to humor, we turn to laughter, and laughter has been studied more and more in the last several years.

I remember a friend of mine, a neighbor of mine who is a laughter yoga instructor. She teaches laughter yoga, which is getting a bunch of people together and get them to laugh their butts off until they enter an altered state of consciousness. Studies now seem to indicate that it doesn’t matter what’s making you laugh. It’s the laughter itself that has a physiological effect on your being. You could start to laugh for no reason at all and it will have an effect. If you can find things that do make you laugh, there are other benefits to that as well. My dog Woody makes me laugh. He makes me laugh and I’ve noticed that if I laugh, that gets his attention. That inspires him to act in certain ways or to maybe feel more confident in himself. You try that with your dog, laugh with your dog it’s a good one.

We’re going to talk about mindfulness and humor. How does humor relate to the idea of being more mindful and more self-aware? From my perspective, they are one in the same. From my perspective, unless you can become aware and accepting of what is, you can’t have a sense of humor because humor is perspective. If you have no perspective, you have no humor. Often in my talks, I’ll say, “Have you ever had that moment when you’re in the midst of crisis and everything is falling apart around you? You turn to the person next to you and if you’re wise enough you say, ‘Someday we’ll look back at this and laugh.’”

EZ 19 | Harness Humor

Harness Humor: You can find humor in anything.


Why wait? Why do we need to have that time distance between the crisis that we’re in and the ability to see it with perspective, with mindfulness, with acceptance, and with a sense of humor? Comedians use humor to overcome pain, to take those difficult moments, those difficult experiences, and spin them into something funny. Erma Bombeck the greatest great humorist said, “There’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy.” I think of the times in my life as a hypnotist, as a magician, as a speaker, when humor was transformative, when using humor made a profound impact on somebody in my audience. I think back to a story from maybe ten years ago. I was doing a hypnosis show for an organization. One of the guys in the audience was a local fire chief in Vermont. His son was a firefighter in New York City and his son has lost his life in September 11, 2001.

At the end of the show, this guy came up to me, a big bear of a guy and put his arms around me with tears in his eyes and hugged me and gratefully said, “That was the first time that I was able to let go and have a belly laugh since my son died.” He told me the backstory and that made me cry. I thought of the gift, this shifted his physiology. What else did it do? What else happened in his life as a result of being able to let go of the pain that he was carrying? I’m sure if the pain continues, but there’s something else accompanying it.

Bringing humor to the table is such an important and profound piece of what heals us, what allows us to influence others, and what allows us to be innovative. There are so many kinds of humor. Humor is a big topic. You could have irony or satire, absurdist humor. You can be kind or mean or you can be self-deprecating. There are so many different types. The primary rule is that anything can be funny.

I was thinking about this earlier because it’s hot in here in Burlington, Vermont. I went online, I looked up hot jokes and I read, “It’s so hot, Jehovah’s Witnesses started telemarketing” “It’s so hot, I saw two trees fighting over a dog.” Then my favorite one. “It’s so hot that Mitt Romney seems cool.” You could find humor in anything and sometimes the most miserable and uncomfortable things and bring us a sense of humor and then we’re off and running. I’ll be introducing you to the wonderful Karyn Buxman who’s going to be talking to you about humor and about the science of humor in the application of humor and her experience with you.

I am thrilled with the show because I’ve got the wonderful Karyn Buxman with me. Karyn is a TEDx speaker, a successful author, and neurohumorist, which basically means that she lives at the intersection of humor and the brain. A pioneer in the emerging science of applied to humor, Karyn helps high performers expand their influence, strengthen their relationships, and boost their resilience. From the Mayo Clinic to the Million Dollar Round Table, companies hire Karyn to educate, inspire, and entertain their audiences again and again. She is one of the 194 people worldwide and only one of 43 women to be inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. Her latest book, Funny Means Money will be published by Forbes.

I had the good fortune to meet Karyn through a mutual friend, Heidi Hanna, who will be a guest on our show. She is the president of the American Institute of Stress. Stress and humor and mindfulness and all these wonderful topics that are about being at your best and playing your best game with the best possible sense of self, that’s what we’re all about here. We couldn’t ask for a better guest.  Welcome, Karyn.

Dr. Steve, I’m excited to be on the show.

You and I both spent a lot of our time on the road. Where are you these days? Are you at home? Are you out? Where are you at?

I’m in San Diego, California. I’m living here by choice, not by chance. So much of what you and I teach is about being intentional. I got intentional about where I wanted to live someplace warm in the winter, close to an ocean and close to an airport.

Be more of who you are. Be authentic. Click To Tweet

A lot of people forget to be intentional and then they spend the rest of their lives cleaning up the mess that they’re making because of their lack of intentionality. San Diego is my home away from home and I spend my winters there and so we’ll be getting to see each other in the flesh in the not too distance future. How did you come by this unusual profession?

It is unusual. People often ask me, “Where do you go to school to study humor?” There are starting some places, but I’m back at that time I was teaching at a college and wanted to continue teaching. I was working on my master’s thesis and convinced my advisers to let me look at the relationship between humor, health, and communication. Once I started diving into it, it was life-changing. I was so excited about what I was finding back. It’s been 30 years. Time flies when we’re having fun.

Back at that time, so little had been studied about it. People had heard of Norman Cousins and his battle with ankylosing spondylitis. He had written this book that was the springboard for the field of psychoneuroimmunology. There was so little research that had been done. When people started to learn about my research, I was starting to be invited places to speak. The very first presentation that I was going to give was an academic presentation. I’m all excited about sharing my P-value is less 0.05 and I discovered that people thought I was funny.

It started snowballing so quickly that within a year. I made a choice to pursue speaking so that I could reach even larger audiences to help them. Having no business background at that time I thought was, “I’ll try it for a year and if it doesn’t work out, I can always go back.” That’s been over 27 years ago. The audience is global. I’m so fortunate to be able to share this with people around the world. One of the coolest things is that laughter has no accent.

That reminds me of that song Wooden Ships from Crosby, Stills & Nash. “If you smile at me, I will understand because that’s something everyone everywhere is in the same language.”

Music and laughter, they are universal. They have some similar effects on people. I love this because you always have access to humor. You always have access to that. It’s one of the things that you and are going to touch on because this is the difference between a high performer and a non-high performer. Once you learn how to harness this, you have a totally portable skill that you can access any place anytime. How exciting is that? It doesn’t cost you anything. You don’t have to have any particular special skills. You don’t have to have any special equipment, you don’t have to invest a lot of money. The benefits are so amazing that this was one of the reasons why people don’t even take it seriously, because nothing can be that good. My mom always said if you’re enjoying it, it’s probably illegal, immoral, or fattening. Humor is none of those. I’m hoping that the people will give this a sincere effort.

That brings us to a lot of very cool question marks. Some of them were buried in my introduction before you came on board. I had a few words to say on my experience of humor. Was I funny? That’s the important question.

Your dog thinks you’re funny. What’s more important than that?

One of the problems that a lot of people have is they assume, “I’m either funny or I’m not funny.” There are funny people and I wish I were one of those funny people because the funny guy gets the girl. The funny guy helps people break their mindset and think more clearly, and the funny guy or the funny girl wins the sale. We all want to be, we all want to have a sense of humor, but how do I get to be that person?

What you’ve said is probably an hour’s conversation but let me dive into this because here’s one of the first things. When people think about humor, they immediately jumped to comedy, which is a subset of humor and being funny. The truth is you don’t have to be funny, you can see funny and still experience all the benefits. Being funny is a desirable trait. That has a certain magnetism, but you can start out by being a humor appreciator. You don’t have to be the humor initiator. This is what I teach in high-performance humor is the difference and how you can experience humor. You can nurture it in others. Without ever having to say a funny thing yourself, you get to experience the benefits because so many people immediately jumped to, “I’m not funny.”

That is one of the pushbacks I hear, my answer is, “Great. You don’t have to be funny.” After one of my presentations, a gentleman came up to me afterward and he said, “Were you always this funny?” I was thinking, “I guess so,” but the next time I saw my mother, I said, “By the way, was I always funny?” She cocked her head, looked thoughtfully, and then said, “No.” I was a little wounded. I was like, “What?” She said, “You were always the one with the sunny disposition.” At first, I was a little taken aback and then I got excited because I realized that because of my intention to practice more humor because I knew of the benefits, I was increasing my appreciation of humor and be funny fell into place. I encourage people, too. There are so many ways you can experience humor without being funny.

Even our mutual wonderful, brilliant friend, Dr. Heidi Hanna will tell you that when she and I met, she did not consider herself a funny person. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate humor, but she did not see herself as funny and most people wouldn’t have described her as funny, but she’s a riot. More people experience that because she has intentionally practiced humor. She doesn’t even have to try to be funny. She was MC-ing something in an event that we were attending. She was the conference chair for the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, which is an organization we can chat about at length later. People were rolling, she was so funny.

She had found her own style and stepped into it authentically. That’s another important issue is to be more of who you are, be authentic. You don’t have to try to be Gallagher or Chris Rock, or somebody that you’re not. You step into your own style, you do it authentically, you do it with confidence, and you will be amazed at the changes you start to experience.

EZ 19 | Harness Humor

Harness Humor: Step into your own style. Do it authentically and do it with confidence, and you will be amazed at the changes you start to experience.


That’s a lot of good stuff you see funny rather than having to try to be funny. I thought about contagious laughter. I thought about that person who so appreciates humor that their laughter gets other people laughing. If you’re one of those people where everybody else smiles and everybody else laughs, it does spread the experience of humor. I was thinking about being funny is often exactly about authenticity, isn’t it? It’s about being observational about what you’re seeing, seeing your own quirks, seeing your own shortcomings, and sharing them. I’ve seen Heidi on stage be very funny but sharing her own neurosis. Maybe she knows it’s funny, but she’s not trying to make people laugh. She’s being very authentic, and that’s something that we don’t necessarily realize that when you put it out there in a neutral way, it’s funny.

I loved what you said earlier when you were talking about breaking patterns, because in a sense that’s what she’s doing. It’s a pattern disruption because humor is such a great pattern disruption because you’re taking two things that don’t necessarily go together. You have somebody who is the executive director at the American Institute of Stress and she’s up there talking about the fact that she’s stressed. That’s funny because she’s being so authentic and vulnerable.

Here’s another important thing and this leads us into influence, is that she has used this ability to comfortably and humorously express her vulnerability. What she has established is a sense of trust. I feel safe with you because you’ve shown me a bit of vulnerability. You’re sharing your experiences; you’re sharing your quirks with me. I feel safe and trust is a pivotal piece of influence. If we want to positively influence people, we want to have their trust.

How often do we go to seminars and we’ll see a motivational speaker who seems like they’ve never had a bad day in their lives? They tell us about how to be happy and it’s miserable. You can’t trust that because I’m not that optimistic. I tell people, I joke about this. I wrote my first book, twelve years ago, it’s called unHypnosis. It’s about living a happy life and it made me miserable. All this stuff that came after I wrote the book, the promotions, and the marketing, it shot me right out of the cannon of misery. That vulnerability breeds trust because rather than being that person up there saying, “You can do it and it’s all good and be happy.” No. When Heidi says, “I’m insecure, I feel stressed out about little things,” then we can all relate to her.

It’s like, “Here’s this beautiful, attractive, smart woman who’s on stage sharing this message. If she’s stressed and she is not perfection, then it’s okay for me as well.” I remember for many years in my speaking early on so many bureaus and agents pigeonholed me into being a humorist, that the goal was to entertain. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s one of the three primary functions of humor, entertainment along with influence and well-being. I wasn’t changing people’s lives necessarily. I remember a friend over dinner one time we were conversing and I was telling him about my son with cancer. He said, “Do you share that?” I said no. He said, “Why not?” I said, “It’s not funny.” Then I was sharing about my other son who was a medical mystery for seven years. “Do you share that?” “No, it’s not funny.” What about your mother with Alzheimer’s?” “No way.”

We went on and he said, “You should start sharing some of that.” I found ways not to manipulate the audience, but to start weaving some of that in, but also with some comic relief and that’s when I went from people coming up afterward saying, “You made me laugh so hard, tears ran down my leg,” to, “I’m so inspired. I can do that, too. You changed my life.” I don’t know if you saw the Goalcast video that’s out. That was Live, Love, Laugh. That thing in a couple of weeks hit 1.1 million and I was so blown away.

If we want to positively influence people, we want to have their trust. Click To Tweet

It was that vulnerability and it’s a story about myself and my mother when I realized that her Alzheimer’s is much worse than I thought. She thought there were two men living in the house, my Dad and someone who looked like him. I remember wanting to throw up when she said that. She said, “What should I do?” I said, “The next time you see one of these men, yell the name, ‘Lamone.’” That was my dad’s name. I said if he says, “What, Shirley?” That’s dad. If he says, “Who is Lamone?” That’s the other guy. She chuckled and she said, “I can do that.”

It was a funny but very poignant story. She did see the humor in that but it’s such a vulnerable moment for me. It’s touched a lot of people because they’re experiencing that pain. One woman even came up to me after one of my presentations of sharing that vulnerability and she said, “When you first got up there, I’m thinking, ‘Here’s somebody that’s got a great job, gets paid well, and she’s having a lot of fun. What does she know about my life?’ When I heard you starting to share some of your real stories, I thought you can relate to what I’m going through as well.” If we can do that with humor, that’s the best of all worlds, because if you’re pouring out your challenges and the horrible things that are happening to you, you’re bringing people down. Heidi teaches this as an oscillation. You’ve got to have the ups and the downs and lead people down in the depths of despair. Humor is one of those pattern disrupts where we can bring them back up and give them that sense of relief and respite. Whether it’s a mother with Alzheimer’s, a child with cancer, a spouse who’s leaving or something as horrendous as even 9/11, humor can give us that gift.

I want to talk about influence, but I also wanted to make one other point about what you were saying. That is that when we express ourselves with vulnerability and humor, not only are we being more vulnerable and therefore improving the bond we create with our audience, we’re healing ourselves. It’s something that happens when I’m authentic about the insecurities that I might feel, the depression, the anxiety, the shame, whatever it might be up for me, and I can get backstage to it.

Meaning that I’m not in it, but I’m standing aside from it, so I can talk about it with a sense of humor, then it begins to dissipate because it’s no longer this horrible inner secret. It’s out there with everything else. We are as sick as our secrets. I want to take right back to influence. That was an aside because you were heading in that direction. I don’t want to take you off that. It’s an interesting question and particularly a lot of our audience I imagine would like to know how to be more influential.

This is done with intention and I work with high performers, whether they’re high-performing leaders, high-performing sales professionals, and entrepreneurs. These people have already made the big leap. They’re already good, if not even great at what they do. They’re ready for those nuances, those things, those subtle shifts that can then take them from good to great and great to amazing. These folks understand that to be intentional can make those changes. In terms of influence, it is about developing that sense of trust and influencing especially through our different kinds of communication. One of the things that we can do to influence others is simply likeability. People would rather do business with an organization or a person who has a sense of humor. I was laughing at something you were saying earlier because I can’t remember exactly what you were saying, it reminded me of the fact that whether you are looking for a leader or a lover, this is one of the top three desirable traits.

We see this when we are looking for a person to represent us. People in terms of leadership, particularly in the past, all of our presidential candidates or people who are running for high office, they were all shoving one another over trying to be on the late night shows and Saturday Night Live. Even Trump has appeared on Saturday Night Live in the past and appeared on Kimmel and such. They know that humor can make them more likable. Anybody who’s reading this has read Cialdini’s work on influence. One of the very first ways that we influence another person is through likeability. To recognize that this is a desirable trait and how can I make that so and increase the likelihood of others understanding that this is something that is an authentic piece of me?

EZ 19 | Harness Humor

Harness Humor: One of the very first ways that we influence another person is through likeability.


If we can do that, we can increase that likability and that’s one of the ways that we can create influence. Other ways, you go through Cialdini’s work and even reciprocity. When you give someone humor, when you give them a joke, you give them a funny story. This is almost like the people at Costco handing out the little appetizers and hopes you’re going to buy the twelve-ton pack of foodstuff that you don’t even need. You give somebody the gift of humor and they want to give something back. When you are on stage, you’re giving this gift of humor. Your audience wants to give back to you. Whether it’s in terms of applause or standing up afterwards. I’m sure you have people afterwards who line up to tell you a story or to tell you a joke or to give you some positive feedback. They’re doing this because they want to give back to you.

How can you do that in terms of working with your customers and working with your clients? Another function of humor is the increase in relationship and rapport. It builds bonds and you can use this to your advantage to influence your customers. What better way to stay top of mind? I used to dread having to get on the phone or reach out to clients and customers because I was like, “What do I say? How do I stay in touch without coming across as being salesy?” I realize I don’t have to do that and when I reach out the majority of the time I’m reaching out using a funny story I heard or an article or something that will amuse them. I don’t have to try to be salesy because I’m staying top of mind by touching base with them on a regular basis and doing it in a way that amuses them.

What a wonderful way to create this subconscious feeling and mindset about a person when you can connect that feeling to another person of, “What I’ll hear from this person is going to be a pleasant experience,” versus, “It’s him again. Tell him I’m on the other line,” or “Put that in a file. I don’t want to deal with that.” You want to be connected with that mindset of positive emotions and humor can help you do that. How does that work for you?

You brought up a couple of interesting spins on it. First of all, the idea that humor is likability and then you’re more likable, therefore you’re more influential. Then the idea of using Cialdini’s reciprocity formula, which is when you give people wanting to give back and using humor as one of the things that you give. What occurred to me in that and what I do as well is whether or not I’m giving a funny story or a funny joke or whatever, then I might also be giving appreciation by being the person who sees humor as opposed to being funny.

I’m having a conversation with somebody and I’m listening to them through the eyes of humor. If they say something funny, I’m going to laugh, and not in a contrived way. I’m delighted and I want my delight to be obvious. If I’m delighted and that’s obvious, then people are going to feel better talking to me because he gets me. He thinks I’m funny and every one of us wants to feel we’re appreciated. We’re smart, we’re funny, we’re charming.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Click To Tweet

People love having that opportunity to make another field better. When you laugh at someone’s humor, it does delight them and it does make them feel connected. It’s absolutely true that laughter is the shortest distance between two people. It does strengthen those relationships and those bonds. You are right on target.

The other piece of that occurs to me is that it’s safer because I’m sure a lot of people wonder this, “I’ve got a guy in my office and he’s got a terrible sense of humor.” People who have a terrible sense of humor never know they have a terrible sense of humor. I know a guy, he gets all his jokes from Alexa. I’m sorry Alexa, but you’re not funny. The idea that we’re in danger, we’re in jeopardy of possibly creating judgment against ourselves or alienating people if our sense of humor is inappropriate or it’s stupid.

I love this. Another way that this works in terms of influence is it’s about the balance of power. Sometimes people think that you need to be the one in power. A lot of smart organizations realize it’s not about increasing the hierarchy, it’s about decreasing the hierarchy. A good leader or a high performer understands which is which. There are different styles of humor and some styles of humor do decrease that hierarchy. They make everybody feel included. It’s the inside humor. We’re a group and everybody joined hands and sing Kumbaya, but it’s that’s the humor that improves retention and increases recruitment. People feel good about where they work and that’s a bonding or an affiliative humor.

EZ 19 | Harness Humor

Harness Humor: Humor improves retention and increases recruitment.


There’s also another humor that’s more aggressive and that can be anywhere from mildly aggressive, which is teasing or cajoling somebody into doing what you want them to do to putdown humor, aggressive humor, a humor that establishes that sense of power. People need to understand that because sometimes they mix those up. Sometimes people will use aggressive humor thinking that it’s going to strengthen a bond when the effect it’s pulling people apart. Again, it’s the intentionality, the awareness of this is something that’s important for people who are trying to influence others.

First of all, are there remedial humor classes for people who have a hideous sense of humor that think they don’t? Are there any ideas or tips for people to find out whether or not their humor is having its intended result?

One of the things that I’ve developed for our upcoming book, my upcoming book is something called humor quotient, which is where we look at two different aspects of humor. One is humor appreciation, and the other is humor application. To appreciate humor is pleasant and it can have some benefits. It’s like the saying knowledge is power, not quite. If you’re not applying that knowledge, you’re not getting the benefits. How often are you intentionally using humor for a desired outcome? It couldn’t be in any of those areas of life that you teach. It could be in your personal life, it can be in your business life, it could be in your spiritual life. For the desired outcome, how often are you intentionally using humor and using it consistently?

I have an assessment. It’s a free assessment and if somebody wants to either email me at a HighPerformanceHumor@gmail.com and put your name, Dr. Steve in the subject line, I’ll know that they want the assessment or they can also text the word Humor and then text that to the number 66866. I can send them the Humor Quotient and you can see where you are in terms of how effective your humor is in terms of what you want to achieve. You asked for tips and there’s a couple of different things. If it’s okay, I’ll hop around a little bit and that is part of what I want to give them in terms of tips comes back to your question, believe it or not. There are so many people that say, “Just tell me what to do. I don’t care about the why, tell me what to do.” I’m going to tell you more or less what I do on a daily or weekly basis.

To appreciate humor is pleasant and it can have some benefits. Click To Tweet

The very first thing is about re-framing because this is finding the humor around you. Many times, people will say, “You don’t understand. There’s nothing funny happening in my life. There’s nothing funny happening in my work.” If that is your belief, that is your reality. Often, we’re not seeing the funny things are around us because we’ve made the assumption they’re not there. What is it that you are missing? I love that Dr. Heidi sent a picture to me and I use this in so many of my presentations. It was humor that she found when she asked herself that question. There is a gym here in San Diego. It’s a 24-hour fitness and there are escalators going up to the gym. People who want to get on the StairMaster that they paid to get on, they can ride the escalator up. That’s funny. Keep your eyes open to that.

This goes back to rewiring our brain. This is where I live, humor in the brain. This is something that the more you do, the easier it becomes. When you first go out and look for things, you may not find something right away. It may take a while before you hear something or see something. Then you recognize that and your brain wires and then you look for something and you find something else in your brain wires even tighter. Hebb’s Law says that neurons that fire together wire together. Eventually, you are going to start seeing things and hearing things that other people are missing all the time. It’s there, it’s just that your perspective has been rewired by your brain. That’s a beautiful place to be.

It goes right back to what you said before about intentionality and the practice. You’ve got to be intentional about it. Just being willing to believe that you can find humor everywhere. Certainly, a lot of people say, “There’s nothing funny going on in my life.” I can relate to you when you were talking about your mom. My mom died of Alzheimer’s and it was pretty rough. My sister, who was a primary caregiver, is not the person who’s used to finding humor in anything. She wouldn’t even see the humor in the good moments. I play gin rummy with my mother for some reason. She’d play gin rummy to the last of her dying breaths. That part of the brain was still there and she could kid around with me as if she was like Groucho Marx. She’d get a hand, she said, “I’ve got to hand like a foot.”

She wouldn’t remember where she left her glass of water, but she’d go right back into that mode and that was funny. There were other things like that that were funny and I tried to convince my sister, “You don’t always have to be depressed every single minute. Sometimes you can find humor.” She said, “I have a right to be upset. This is a difficult situation.” I said, “Yes, you do. You have a right to be upset. If you want to argue for your limitations, you get to keep it.” What you’re saying is step out of your assumption that the hard times are only hard times.

You have the right to be depressed, but you don’t have to be committed to your depression. The second thing that I do is increase the likelihood of experiencing humor. I created an environment that plays to that. I keep things around me that are amusing. My bookshelves are funny books. I have funny magazines, and, on my phone, I have bookmarked twenty websites and I have funny podcasts. I have social media sites that I can go to and Pinterest pages. I’m never away from something that can’t amuse me if I’m willing to seek that amusement. Increasing that likelihood means that I can always tap into something. That can even be another person that’s part of my environment. There are people who bring joy when they enter a room and there are people who bring joy when they leave a room. A lot of people aren’t intentional about who they spend their time with and you can be with other people who are Debbie Downers, but you don’t have to be with them 24/7. Be intentional about that.

Seek humor from another person every day. Click To Tweet

We like to end our shows with a few things. One is a metaphor for the day and then a quote or a proverb and then a challenge for the day. I’m going to leave that challenge to Karyn, but first the metaphor. I was thinking about what’s a metaphor for this? I thought Jerry Seinfeld, he’s a metaphor for finding the funny. Every moment of our lives, if only we could look at that moment through Jerry Seinfeld’s eyes, you would find that humor. Hold that metaphor of that observational humor that you could bring with you on a day-to-day basis and see what that does for you. The quote for the day comes from Milton Berle who said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” With that, I’m going to leave Karyn to share a challenge for the week.

My challenge to everyone is on a daily basis, every day, seek humor from another person. Whether it’s a family member, a colleague, a customer, the kid on the other side of the counter saying, “Do you want fries with that?” I want you to ask them for a funny story, their favorite joke. What’s something funny that happened with their child or their grandchild? I ask my Uber drivers, “What the craziest, funniest passengers story you have?” Seek humor from another person every day. Two things are going to happen. One, people are going to assume you have a sense of humor. Otherwise, why would you have been asking? Remember that’s a desirable trait. Two, you’re increasing your repertoire of stories that you can share with others.

How can people learn more about you, Karyn?

I love connecting on social media. My website is KarynBuxman.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I have a book coming with Forbes that’ll be out, Funny Means Money. My goal is to help people intentionally use humor for health, wealth, and happiness. Let me see what I can do to help you guys up your game, go from great to amazing.

Thank you so much. Karyn has been a tremendous conversation. We need another show and we’ll do that. Remember to lead consciously and profit responsibility.

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About Karyn Buxman

EZ 19 | Harness Humor

Karyn Buxman is an international speaker, successful author, and neurohumorist (living at the intersection of the brain and humor). Karyn is a pioneer in the field of applied humor, starting with her masters thesis in graduate school and now continues her partnerships with leading neuroscientists. Today Karyn helps leaders—and those they serve—achieve peak performance and optimum health through the art and science of applied humor.

More than 500 organizations—including NASA, the Mayo Clinic and the Million Dollar Round Table have hired Karyn to entertain, educate, and inspire their audiences again and again. She is one of 227 people in the world—and one of only 39 women—to be inducted into the National Speaker’s Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame. Karyn’s mission: To improve global health, business, and peace through laughter and heal the humor-impaired.

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