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March 5, 2010
Laughter is the Best Medicine


I have to freely admit that last Friday, my mind really wasn’t focused on work.  Oh sure...I made the calls and talked a lot with customers, but deep down I was really going through the motions thinking about my night-time activities that evening.  You see, last Friday was one of three or four "special" days that I look forward to each year.  Last Friday was poker night with the "boys". 

The "boys" in this case represent six of my closest and dearest friends, each of whom I’ve now known for over thirty years.  We began playing poker together while members of the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity at San Diego State.  Over the course of time, we’ve developed bonds of friendship that have spanned marriages, births, deaths, new homes, new jobs, wars, bubbles, recessions, and plenty of life experiences.

At our quarterly poker games, the stakes are still relatively low (our maximum bet is now up to $1 as one of the guys pointed out a few years ago that we were no longer in college and that the maximum bet of $0.50 should be raised to allow players to better bluff).  On most occasions, the big winner of the night walks away with a profit of $20-$30...never mind the fact that we all tend to bring that much in beer and snacks to the game...it doesn’t matter...a profit is still a profit.  We play lots of wild-card and split pot games insuring that the winners rotate from game to game on a regular basis...very little skill...lots of luck...no big winners...no big losers.

People say that if at the end of your life you can count your true friends on one hand, you’re a fortunate person.  I know for me, it would take all of my digits (toes included) to count my close friends and loved ones.  Each day I give thanks for being truly blessed with those who have chosen to take part in my life. 

Our little poker game is not about making money or demonstrating card-playing skills...it’s about laughing out loud...sometimes so hard we cry or our stomachs hurt.  We laugh at each other....we laugh at ourselves...we laugh at catching others bluffing...we laugh when our 5 of kind gets beat by another 5 of a kind (remember...these are wild-card games).

There have been several studies of laughter over the years.  Laughter promotes good health in several ways:

  • Laughter stimulates the brain to release  "pleasure" chemicals - such as endorphins, giving a person a sense of well-being and reducing muscle tension .
  • Laughter reduces blood pressure by reducing stress.  This in turn opens the body’s blood vessels allowing for better blood flow in the body.
  • Laughter causes the respiratory system to process higher levels of O2 (oxygen molecules) in the blood providing more energy to the body.
  • Laughter promotes higher T-cell counts in the body’s immune system allowing the body to fight off germs and diseases including cancerous cells.

The result of laughter is lower stress, better blood flow, higher levels of oxygen, increased immune system and a better overall feeling of well-being...

With all the positive benefits, its no wonder why I so look forward to hanging out with my college friends every so often...even if I’m the big loser for the night financially...I still come out way ahead as a person...

As I was driving home from the game last week, I paused to wonder why more businesses don’t promote laughter among its employees.   It appears that there is so much more stress in the workplace and at home these days.  People are working harder than ever just to keep up (forget about getting ahead).  Productivity is up among workers (and major companies are profiting handsomely with this added productivity) but this can only go on for so long before something breaks.

People can only do so much before they need to take a break or their health and "well-being" will soon begin to suffer.  Perhaps it’s time for companies to promote some laughter in the workplace along with that mandatory overtime.  Maybe it’s just time to lighten up...just a bit.

I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, but I do know that when I play poker with my friends I feel better about everything.  The world and the challenges that it brings, don’t seem so daunting or overwhelming. 

The weekend is here...deal me in...I’m ready to play.

Thank you very much for all of your continued support of OptiFuse where we try to take the stress out of buying overcurrent protection.


Jim Kalb
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