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What’s So Funny About Diabetes: Humor Teaches!

I have to tell you all, I’m really pumped up. I’ve just gotten back from speaking to the National Association of School Nurses. They’re an amazing, vibrant group of professionals who provide top quality health care and education. I’ve got to say they’ve caused me to reflect on exactly how much health care education you do when you’re a person with diabetes.

That’s right. We’re the ones that wind up doing the educating – despite the fact that the whole world is full of people who are convinced that they know more than you do about your diabetes! If you’ve ever gotten The Lecture from a well-intentioned relative who’s convinced you cure diabetes by avoiding all white foods, you know what I’m talking about.

In What’s So Funny About Diabetes?: A Creative Approach to Coping with Your Disease you’ll find useful ways to use humor to provide this education. Humor can make difficult conversations easier – that’s why you’ll often see politicians using jokes to ‘soften’ a crowd, particularly before they have to deliver an unpopular message. When we laugh, we relax, lowering some of those social defenses that can serve as a barrier to effective communications.

For example, let’s say I wanted to talk to you about basic English grammar – punctuation and that sort of thing. Why, I bet you’re as excited as you were when this topic was covered by your seventh grade teacher… Okay, maybe that’s no fun. But check out the cartoon with this post. I bet you’re laughing – and I know you’re going to understand comma placement better than you did before!

Here’s the thing: we remember the things that make us laugh.  Laughing is a pleasant experience.  All sorts of nifty bio-chemical reactions go on inside of body and mind when we laugh: our mood lifts, our circulation increases, we feel energized and revitalized.  It doesn’t take long for our bodies to draw the association between feeling good and whatever prompted that laughter. If that prompt contains useful information — something about the beauty of a well-placed comma, for example— that’s information we will retain and use.

Whenever you want someone to remember information – let’s take the “My insulin pump is really not a cell phone!” message, vital for teenagers everywhere – find a way to deliver your message with humor. You’ll find that your audience (teachers, bosses, parents, colleagues) remembers what you say, and that can mean fewer stress-inducing ‘helpful conversations’ you have to endure.

Humor! It’s amazing and amusing every time!


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