"Laughing 15 minutes a day has the same effect on your heart as if you went jogging for 15 minutes a day," said Juli Burney, multiple award winning teacher, humorist and author, who gave the keynote address at the fourth annual Women in Denim conference in Storm Lake Friday night.
"You don't have to buy any special clothing for laughing."
She told the crowd of about 300, "We were all born with a sense of humor," and drew on her farm background to prove it.
"Farmers are always crabby - that's the way they are - (wanting rain when it's dry, wanting it dry when it's raining.) Fortunately, I learned the importance of humor. For the longest time I thought we were raising SOBs on our farm because that's what my father talked about. I was asked to help sort those SOBs but I usually let them go cause they're big SOBS so I was sent in to sort socks."
She went on to say that science proves that "humor and laughter are good for you. You need to work on a good sense of humor and you need to start with yourselves. I used to be a crabby person - I thought the world was out to get me. I wasn't happy with myself." She added that like many people, she did a great deal of dieting to try to look like supermodel Twiggy.
"I went on an 800-calorie a day diet - I was up to Jan. 5, 2010; I was counting calories but I was ahead of my time. I bought an aerobics tape and tried that. I watched everyone doing aerobics while I ate my breakfast," she laughed.
"I realized that my head was the problem. I now like myself the way I am. We need to learn to love ourselves for what we are. I always wanted to be Julie Andrews but I'm only Juli Burney and we need to think positive."
Every day has challenges and struggles and every person has flaws, she pointed out. "We have to be able to let go of that. I'm not Julie Andrews; I was meant to be Juli Burney. If we care about life and enjoy the moments, then our lives will improve immensely. We need to find humor in all our situations."
She added that we don't need stress of our own so we definitely don't need to take any one else's stress either - nor their crabbiness.
"I don't see crabbiness as a problem anymore. I see it as an opportunity to stop it in its tracks."
Making others laugh - those crabby people - gets them through a situation. "We're powerful people. Recognize what you can control and what you can't."
Burney's mother, Joan, is a counselor, an award winning columnist, public speaker and author. The two women often appear together, Joan was present at the Women in Denim.