Anecdotes as Antidotes\
I consider myself pretty lucky in that I have a number of really funny friends and relatives. In fact, after most holiday and special gatherings at our home, it's difficult to decide which of them had the best stories, gathered the largest crowd, or got the most laughs! All I know is that when we get together, there's always a lot of "good material" in the room. Over the years, the entertainment has added much not only to our parties, but to our lives. And it has given each of us, whether entertainer or audience, a real appreciation of the value of humor.
I've often wondered whether funny people know they're funny. Do they work at it? If they do, it never looks that way. I think they just see things differently from the rest of us - and then they're able to pass along what they see in a humorous way. Think about the comedians who really make you laugh. Most of their material comes from looking at everyday people, doing everyday things. Maybe we should start spending more time hunting for humor and looking for laughs - starting with ourselves - instead of leaving it to the Jerry Seinfelds and Billy Crystals of the world. Why should we wait for them to make us laugh? Why should it be their job?
Humor is important; it's at the very heart of our humanness. If I remember my high school science, isn't it the ability to smile that separates us from lower species and life forms? Humor can hold an important part not only in our personal and social lives, but in our work lives as well. When used correctly, it can go a long way toward softening, healing, and lightening a lot of moments that would otherwise be very humorless. In fact, a good joke or a funny anecdote at the right time can be the best possible antidote - in even the most poisonous of situations. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and others have told us that humor can actually heal, and after a lot of research and testing, this now-famous hypothesis has been supported over and over. I know everyone reading this can probably recall at least one funny work situation, where the humor of the moment was shared, and the patient and staff involved all felt a lot better. How wonderful it would be if we all worked on making that kind of thing happen a lot!
There's a whole world of laughs to be had out there if we just learn how to recognize them. And if we make it a point to try, maybe we can all be funny. We might not be Emmy® Award-winning funny, but I'm sure we could get at least a couple of laughs. Art Linkletter used to say "people are funny." And they are. But rather than trying to be stand-up-comic funny, perhaps we could create humor in the workplace by developing a frame of mind, a style, or just an approach to our work that encourages more laughter. Maybe it's a matter of practicing humor while we practice nursing. A humorous little story here; a funny little anecdote there. Who knows how much good it could do? What if we even worked on making "humor" a part of our patient care plans?
As nurses we know what antidotes are; we learned all about them in our pharmaco-logy classes. We know what they can do, and how when used at the right time in the right way they can turn things around and save lives. But there are other "antidotes" that can be just as effective as the ones we studied in school. They're not swallowed, injected, or pushed IV - but nurses in all areas of practice can administer them. They might be an understanding smile or a reassuring word at a very busy moment; they might be helping someone see the bright side of things when things seem the darkest, or performing a secret act of kindness that's never recorded on a chart. They can't be looked up in the PDR, they have no bad side effects, patients are never allergic to them, and they won't increase costs or lengths of stay - yet they're some of the best antidotes available on the market. And those funny little anecdotes are among them!