Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Stress Management through Fun


Cliff Kuhn M.D.

Stress management is a hot topic; stress-related illness and suffering is at an all-time high in America and increasing every year. Cliff Kuhn, M.D.'s work with the powerful natural medicine of humor has uncovered the primary culprit behind your unhealthy stress symptoms, as well as the solution to simple, healthy stress management.

Astronomer-mathematician Ptolemy (85-165) devised a theory of planetary motions that placed the earth at the center of the universe. The sun, moon, and planets revolved around the earth in the Ptolemaic universe. This notion was accepted for approximately 1,500 years. More on this in a moment...

Shelly was in such need of stress management that she was unhappy much of the time. Shortly after she became my patient, I was able to help Shelly see that, just like Ptolemy's theory, she was casting herself as the center of the universe, thereby causing unmanageable stress levels in her life. We began a regimen from my Fun Factor prescription that afforded Shelly proper stress management, reintroduced joy and happiness, and brought her life back into balance.

Shelly's problem was common; I see more and more people each day who suffer from unhealthy levels of stress. Whether it is sleeplessness, weight gain, mood changes, hair loss, worry, agitation, or any other of the myriad symptoms commonly associated with stress, stress-related illness and suffering is at an all-time high in America and increasing every year. Luckily for you, my work with the powerful natural medicine of humor has uncovered the primary culprit behind your unhealthy stress symptoms, as well as the solution to simple, healthy stress management.

My medical practice, involving decades of work with chronically and fatally ill patients, has clearly identified the cause of our painful stress symptoms - seriousness. Seriousness means taking yourself too seriously; seriousness means over-reaching - taking responsibility for things beyond your power, such as the outcomes and results of all your hard work. Consequently, you're positioning yourself incorrectly as the "center of the universe." Seriousness causes so much pressure that effective stress management, which I will teach you in this article, becomes impossible.

The antidote for your seriousness, and your foundation for healthy stress management, is the natural medicine of humor. Humor's incredible power is harnessed to maximum impact through my unique Fun Factor prescription. Based upon my Fun Commandments, which were forged in unison with some incredible patients of mine, my Fun Factor prescription is capable of producing such profound positive change to your health and personal success that you will soon have people whispering, "Is she always this happy?"

In this article, I will explain how my Fun Factor prescription can be directly applied to your stress. You will be amazed at how much lighter and happier you feel, with each passing day, as you put the following Fun Commandments to work in your life. You are about to discover that the natural medicine of humor produces flawless stress management, putting an end to your painful stress symptoms.

The Fun Factor Stress Management Formula

Step One: Laugh with Yourself

My first stress management Fun Commandment is: Laugh with Yourself. This Commandment is not about humiliation or self-denigration, it is the ultimate in self-respect because it teaches you to appreciate your "perfect imperfection" and to find gentle amusement in your foibles. And, when it comes to stress, there is plenty of amusement to be found which will greatly aid your stress management.

Here's the first amusing thing about your stress: you can't live without it, yet too much is bad for your health. Like many of the essential things in life: we need a certain amount of stress to survive, yet too much can kill us. For example, we die if we are without water for more than a few days; but submerge us in water and we die a lot sooner.

It is said that we can die from boredom. I don't think there is any scientific evidence for that theory, but one thing is certain - stress relieves boredom. Ending boredom, indeed, could be considered a form of stress relief. An amusing paradox, no doubt!

Without stress, also, we might not eat. Hunger is a form of stress our body needs occasionally to remind us we need food. Stress causes the adrenal glands to work. Athletes would not perform at their best without stress-induced adrenaline. Every activity causes a certain amount of stress. So does inactivity. In fact, to be completely stress-free we would have to be dead - not a highly recommended stress management technique!

The idea that stress is a killer is exaggerated, which is also humorous. Too much stress can be a killer, and it is against too much stress in our lives that we need to guard. Fortunately we are equipped with the finest possible stress management mechanism: the natural medicine of humor and the ability to laugh with ourselves. Far better and safer than Valium, it is our built-in stress management system.

As you learn to laugh with yourself you will become like an athlete - who can have fun running the mile or the marathon and still turn in peak performance. In fact, since too much seriousness can tighten muscles through negative tension, laughing with yourself may even enhance performance. This Fun Commandment works wonderfully on many levels.

Step Two: Choose To Motivate Yourself With Fun, Not Fear

Step two in my Fun Factor stress management formula is one of my newest Fun Commandments. Motivating yourself with fun rather than fear is a crucial step that allows your commitment to laugh with yourself to fully impact your healthy stress management.

This brings us to the only true choice you have in life. Will you be inspired by fear or by fun? One choice is all we have for our health, wellness, and fitness - fear or fun. It all boils down to that. It is your responsibility to choose one or the other.

The question is, which is the responsible choice? Which of the two is a powerful medicine, which will give you health and motivate you greater success, sustaining you over time? The natural medicine of humor gives us the answer.

There is no doubt that both fear and fun are potent stimulants to behavior over the short run. So the question becomes one of sustainability. Will fear or fun best help us sustain our excellence over time? Which of the two is a powerful alternative medicine that you can learn to use for your greatest health, wellness, and fitness? (That's a trick question, by the way)

Let's Encounter A Man-Eating Bear!

The fear of being eaten alive motivates us to run as fast and as far as we can when chased by a bear. There is little to no fun in that experience. It is purely fearful, but the energy it provides maximizes the possibilities of sustaining life for that moment. For the moment, in such a life-threatening situation, fear seems to be an efficient and productive choice. Though full of stress, it relieves us of the immediate threat!

But let's take it a step further. Having survived my wilderness encounter with the bear, I return to my home in an urban environment. The next morning, as I start out for work, I run desperately for the car, quickly jumping inside and locking the doors.

When I arrive at my workplace, I race into the building. Before I get down to work I suspend my bagged lunch high above my desk, roping it to the light standards. I insist upon all doors being locked and secured. When asked why, I answer, "I'm merely doing what got me through my wilderness experience over the weekend. I don't want to be eaten by a bear."

You'd think I was over-reacting just a wee bit, and you'd be right. You could say that my stress relieves my anxiety, but my anxiety is based on a lie conjured and sustained by my fear! Not exactly the greatest of stress management techniques.

The Three Biggest Dangers Of Our "Run-From-a-Bear" Stress Management Techniques

  1. We live our lives as though every day was an emergency; as though a bear is chasing us all the time. 
  2. We now know that such a constant state of "wariness" or agitation breaks down our coping mechanisms over time. It is impossible to sustain the fear-based behavior without breaking down or burning out.
  3. Of all the stress management techniques, this is the absolute worst to choose because it only increases our stress! It reduces the effectiveness of humor's natural medicine to zilch.

A more pernicious error occurs. We begin to think that the avoidance of whatever we fear is the same as having fun. Joy becomes synonymous with the avoidance of fear. 

The Absence Of One Thing Does Not Indicate The Presence Of Its Opposite

If this sounds ridiculous to you let me put it in more familiar terms that have become acceptable where your health is concerned. With rare exception we have agreed in our society that health is synonymous with absence of symptoms. Do you really believe your health is merely the absence of your symptoms? My Fun Factor prescription teaches you that, not only is the absence of symptoms not synonymous with health, but also that you never have to fall for that lie again.

You never have to settle for second-rate health! You can use your powerful natural medicine of humor to stave off seriousness' debilitating effects.

Therefore the issue becomes balance. Fun balances fear. The ultimate question is not, "Are you without fear?", but "Is your fun in balance with your fear?" If you're not 100% certain of a "yes" response to the later question, then you need to STOP - RIGHT NOW - and take the last step in my Fun Factor stress management formula to ensure that your life is as healthful as it could be.

Step Three: Tell the Truth

The final step in your Fun Factor stress management formula is the Fun Commandment, Tell the Truth. This Commandment refers more to self-integrity than it does "cash register" honesty. Getting in the habit of telling yourself the truth will cement humor's powerfully positive effect over your stress. Your stress management becomes second nature when you are honest with yourself each day, because you can then immediately, easily, and simply apply steps one and two to your life.

Telling yourself the truth, for our purposes, focuses on knowing when your stress levels are rising. As we noted in step two, everyday activities normally produce a baseline level of stress and this stress is usually alleviated by your daily routines (for example, when you experience the stress of hunger, you eat). Step three in my Fun Factor stress management formula teaches you to recognize the signs of unhealthy stress and take corrective action immediately.

Here are some simple stress management techniques to apply when your self-honesty reveals rising stress levels:

1. Start your day off by singing in the shower at the top of your voice. Make up your own song that incorporates the idea that you are embarking upon a glorious day in which great things are going top happen to you. Can't sing? Good! Can't rhyme? Who cares? The words are for you alone. This is not a contest. Be as off-key as you need to be...unless you are Placido Domingo.

The important thing is to be loud (your inner ear has to hear it), upbeat and convincing. The subconscious believes what it is told. Start your day by telling it that it will be a great day and you will be more than halfway to producing exactly that result. Think of your singing not as singing but as a stress relief game played before stress has a chance to rear its ugly head.

2. Travel to work alone, along the same boring route every day? Make up a game to play as you look out the window of your car, bus or train. For example, how many dogs will you see on the way to work?

Try to guess before you set out and see how close you are when you arrive. Reward yourself every time you guess correctly to within a certain number. Drivers: limit yourself to dogs (or green elephants) you see through the windshield only. This game does not work well in subways; there are no green elephants in subways.

3. Have a routine job? One that you find boring? Does it produce stress symptoms, such as drumming your fingers or tapping your toes? Perhaps you need to introduce fun into your workday.

For example, if your job is to make identical widgets each day, how could you do something different to give variety to what otherwise could become a monotonous task? Could you, for example, place each new widget relative to the others so that together they make a pattern, or spell the name of your sweetheart? How many do you make an hour? Could you make one more than that the next hour, safely and with the same excellent quality? Make a stress-relieving game out of your work and it will feel less like work and more like fun.

4. Smile. You feel stressed? Smile. It is a simple activity, so simple that even infants can do it. Just for kicks, count how many times you smile in an hour. None, you say? Then this stress relief game is even easier for you, and more important than it is for those who smile all the time. (No wonder they don't feel the same degree of stress that you do!)

Your smile doesn't need to be a broad grin that suggests to those around you that they need to call the men in white coats. But it should be more than a mental smirk; your facial muscles should be aware that they are smiling.

It is possible simply to paste a smile on your face without any reason other than you want to smile. After a while, your subconscious will take over, lighten your mood, and the smiles will come easily and naturally.

It's best, if possible, to think of something that can give you a genuine smile, a reason you can talk about if called upon to do so. Each of us, no matter how depressed, has something in life to celebrate.

5. Recognize that stress is a choice. We can accept it and put up with it, and the damage it can cause our bodies. We can avoid it, but that could be a difficult choice; especially if it means quitting the only job we know in a tough job market. That choice might easily create worse stresses. Or we can deal with it and defeat it.

That is not as difficult as it might sound if you make up your mind to use my Fun Factor prescription in everything you do. That doesn't necessarily mean, laughing, joking and playing the village idiot - though all those activities can relieve stress too. You can have fun without ever cracking a single joke.

A game of tickle with the children or grandchildren can be fun and bring energetic screams of delight from them and you. Touch football or, for the less energetic, lawn darts or horseshoes can be fun. For others, it's a walk, socializing with friends, admiring the beauty around us or following a hobby - especially if it is an engrossing one.

Attitude Is Everything

The key is to recognize stress symptoms when they occur, recognize what's causing them, and use my Fun Factor formula for healthy stress management. Since fun is the best natural stress reliever known, it makes good sense to incorporate my Fun Factor stress management formula into your daily life.

But don't get obsessive about it. Don't be stressed by removing stress. Be content with removing some of your stress, and with taking the edge off it so that you function as a healthier, happier and more productive humor being. After all, perfectionism produces stress.

Shelly, by the way, has learned to take herself much more lightly now and she does not suffer nearly as many stress symptoms. The paradox she loves is that taking herself less seriously actually permits her to take her responsibilities more seriously than ever before! The natural medicine of humorr, supercharged by my Fun Factor prescription, has allowed Shelly to easily and simply manage her stress and enjoy a life others have started to envy.

Just as Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus disproved Ptolemy's earth-centered universe in the 16th century, so the natural medicine of humor disproves that you must suffer from being the center of your universe. Remove yourself from the pressure and stress of a life where everything revolves around you...start using my Fun Factor stress management formula, and the rest of my Fun Commandments, today!

About the Author:

Clifford Kuhn, M.D., America's Laugh Doctor, teaches people and organizations to be more healthy and successful through the use of fun and humor. A psychiatrist, and the former associate chairperson of the University of Louisville's renowned Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Kuhn now dispenses his prescription for turbo-charging your health, success, and vitality from  On his website you will find tons of fun, free ways for you to maximize your sense of humor, and enjoy a life others will envy.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Psychic Vampires

According to legend the best way of keeping vampires away is to festoon your room with garlic and make sure you always have a crucifix to hand.  Of course, it is important to believe in the power of the cross - without that belief it has no power over the undead.  It is also said that they cannot enter unless you first invite them in, and then they have the power to enter whenever they wish.  A bit like supernatural bailiffs!

Why am I talking here about vampires?  Do I really believe in them?  My belief or otherwise in the vampires of folklore is not really important, as the subject of this blog is what I refer to as "emotional vampires" or "psychic vampires".

Vampires of folklore and popular fiction drink your blood, making you weak and tired from anaemia.  Eventually you become a vampire yourself.

Psychic vampires also drain you, but of your psychic energy rather than your blood, quite often making you tired and chipping away at your resolve to achieve great things - if you let them.  And just as is the case with the folklore vampires, if they drain away enough of your psychic energy you can become a psychic vampire yourself.

If you think carefully I am sure you can identify some people in your past, or maybe even some around you now, who seem to drain your energy when you are with them.  Maybe you are full of the joys of spring, ready to move onwards and upwards, and then after a long meeting with this person you feel less inclined to action, less positive, perhaps even miserable.  Does this ring any bells?

I am not saying these people are evil.  Nor am I even saying there is anything occult or pseudo-scientific at work here.  Frankly it really doesn't matter why this happens - all that matters is that it does!

So how do you protect yourself against these psychic vampires?

We can take a lesson here from folklore.  Do not invite them in!  They can only have power over you if you allow them to become a part of your life.  This applies to EVERYONE who would turn your optimism into pessimism.  Who would ridicule your attempts to move on and to improve yourself.  If they are holding you back, then let them loose!

Another lesson from folklore is that whatever you are using to repel these creatures will only work if you have a strong belief in it.  Sometimes we cannot avoid negative people, try as we may.  Maybe you have to work with them.  Maybe they are members of your family.  Or maybe part of your "giving back to the universe" is trying to help such people become more positive.  Whatever the reason, in order to ward off the psychic depletion you must believe very strongly in your own power, your own goals, your own projects.  Do not listen to the ridicule of those who would pull you down to their own level.

Be assertive (not aggressive though!).  Believe in yourself.  Know that what you are doing and planning to do is right.  Associate with others who are optimistic and who can help you and encourage you in working towards your own goals.

Do all this and you need never again fear the influence of the psychic vampires around you.  Trust me, they really do exist, but also trust me, they can only harm you if you allow them to do so.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Every person has some type of fear or worry inside of them.  You may be worried or scared about performing well at work.  Or you may be afraid that you have developed a serious illness.  These are valid fears but it is the way in which you handle them that counts.

The key here is to recognize the message your worry or fear is giving you and act on that message.  If you are concerned about an illness, see a health professional.  Get checked out to see if you have that illness, and follow medical advice if you have.  But if you don't have it, take advice on the steps you can take to avoid getting it in the first place.  If you are concerned about your job performance, start looking for ways to improve this. Maybe you need to learn a new skill or just have more confidence in what you do.

When you start to feel more confident others will also see you as more confident.  A good way to increase your confidence level is by thinking positively each day.  Try using positive affirmations to help you reach your goals.  Each morning repeat these affirmations until you truly believe them.

Being fearless means that you will not allow any fear to get the better of you or hold you back.  Instead you take steps to learn how to deal with these issues and look for ways to work around them.  Sometimes talking to another person about your fears can be a huge help.  You may discover that they have the same fears, and simply sharing can be helpful.

While everyone loves to be known as fearless there are times when being fearless is not good.  If you begin to act in a reckless manner you could injure yourself or others around you.  There is a fine line between being scared to do something and downright doing something which would be considered foolish.  But that is why I have emphasized the need first to recognize the message that fear is giving you.  As long as you do that and act on it you have done all that is necessary, and now you need to remove the fear.

The best way to conquer any fear is to tackle it slowly, over a period of time.  Try to do things that are a little out of your comfort zone so you can push your limits.  As you achieve each goal then you should feel proud of what you have just accomplished.

If you continue this process you will discover that your fears aren’t as strong as they once were.  Plus your convictions and beliefs will be stronger and this will help you become a more successful person.

There is nothing wrong in having any type of fear.  You just do not want this fear to overtake your life.  Instead set yourself small challenges which will help you overcome your fear and allow you to lead the life you really want to live.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Ramadan: An Infidel's Perspective

My Muslim friends are now celebrating Ramadan and they certainly need no introduction to this important observance, which this year is from 29th June to 28th July.  But for the rest of us who are not of the Muslim faith I thought it might be helpful to throw a little light on Ramadan and look at the personal development benefits of the festival.  I hope any Muslim scholars reading this will not be offended by this commentary by one who is not of the faithful, but which I hope gives both Ramadan and the practice of Islam the greatest respect.

You probably already know that Ramadan lasts approximately one month, during which the faithful do not eat or drink during the day.  It is, though, rather more than simply a period of fasting.

It is very true that eating and drinking is forbidden between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan.  So too are any sexual relations.  Any good deeds performed during Ramadan are considered to create more benefit than at any other time.  This particularly applies to charitable giving, but also to all other good deeds.  During Ramadan the faithful are expected to pay more attention to their spirituality, including reading the entire Quran.

The benefits of fasting are very well documented.  Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase resistance to disease, improve sensitivity to insulin, improve brain function, and extend lifespan.  The studies have mainly focused on alternate day fasting, but the health benefits are likely to be equally applicable to fasting during the day every day.

Self discipline is also a very good practice.  During Ramadan this is particularly focussed on sexual relations, but is also extended to other matters.  For example swearing, or other "wordly" non-spiritual activities.  Why not simply cut out these activities completely, forever, you may ask.  Well, unlike some Christians, most Muslims would not regard sexual intimacy with one's spouse as in any way sinful or impure.  In fact it could be argued that abstaining from sexual intimacy is sinful, as it is depriving one's spouse of pleasure.  But learning to retain more control over one's desires instead of being a slave to the animal within is a good thing when not taken to extreme.  I think restricting this self-denial to the daylight hours for a month is probably a good balance.  My Christian friends may see a parallel here with Lent.  Indeed, those of my friends familiar with the practices of the Salvation Army call Lent "self denial", so the practice has some similarities with Ramadan, although it is nowhere near as thorough or strict.

As for doing good, it could be argued that this should be the case all year round, not just during one month of the year.  The reality is any good Muslim would completely agree.  The idea is not simply to do good during Ramadan and then be evil the other eleven months!  But Islam recognizes human fallibility.  The idea is to try to do good and avoid evil all year round, but to make even greater effort to do this during Ramadan.  When practised properly the additional focus on doing good and being more spiritual during Ramadan should gradually, year by year, make it easier and easier to be more spiritual and a better person throughout the rest of the year too.

I believe those of us who are not Muslim have much to learn from our Muslim friends.  Perhaps we should begin to adopt some of these practices ourselves, whether during Ramadan, Lent, Yom Kippur or some other time of the year.

And may I conclude by wishing my readers of all faiths and none a very happy and spiritual Ramadan!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Do you have any limitations?  If so, what are they, where did they come from and are you bothered about them?

I guess you probably answered "yes" to that first question.  We all have limitations of one degree or another.

Some limitations are there for a very good reason.  These are the ones I would call "moral limits".  I have clear moral limits.  Boundaries I will not cross no matter what.  These are limits I have set myself.  Some I "inherited" or learned in early childhood.  Others I have chosen over the years.  I am sure you have moral limits too - I certainly hope so.

Notice, though, I said "these are limits I have set myself".  They are not imposed on me.  I do not allow any organization or any other person to define those limits.  They are my limits.  Maybe they DID originally come from outside, but I have thought about and questioned each one to be certain it belongs.

But what about other limitations?  Not moral limits, but limits that prevent you achieving what you want to achieve in life.  Do you have any of those?

Probably the answer is "yes" again.  But this time you should recognize that these limits do not belong in your life and you do not have to accept them.  As long as you DO accept them they will continue to stop you achieving your goals.  But accepting them is your choice.  And if you wish, you can refuse to accept them any more and remove those barriers to happiness, wealth, freedom, and whatever else it is you desire.

I am not saying this will be easy.  Most things in life worth having require effort.  I am not saying you will immediately see there can be an answer.  For many limitations it seems it is impossible to remove the shackles.  What I AM saying is that if you look for a way to remove them you will eventually find that way.

If you have said "no, I have no limitations", great!  But I suggest you dig deep within and make sure you are not simply hiding the limitations that are really there.  Take some time to sit quietly and you may be surprised what arises.  If you find some, then treat them exactly the way I have indicated above.

We are all children of the Universe, and the Universe is entire within us, in all its power.  Embrace that power and use it to shatter the shackles of unnecessary limitations.  Resolve today to break through and begin achieving your goals!