You’ve probably heard it said that “Laughter is the best medicine.” Retired clinical psychologist Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, CLL, believes laughter can indeed be therapeutic in many ways. Self proclaimed as the world’s only “Joyologist.” Wilson has been a gelotologist — an expert in the science of laughter — for many years. On this week’s episode of Watching America, Wilson shares a few laughs, along with his vast knowledge of laughter, with host Dr. Alan Campbell.

steve wilson

In his previous work as a clinical psychologist, Wilson worked with families, adults and children on issues including stress, anxiety, depression and suicide. In 1984, he saw a brochure on a workshop in Chicago about how to use humor to help people, and this began a lifelong journey of exploring therapeutic humor and teaching others how to incorporate it into their daily lives.

“There is a way in which humor can strengthen things that are working well,” Wilson explains. “It can help you navigate through the shocks of life. Humor is a shock absorber, which doesn't necessarily fix the road, but it makes it easier to navigate the potholes.”

Campbell and Wilson explores several topics during the interview including:

  • How does one define a sense of humor?
  • What makes some humor offensive to some people and not offensive to others?
  • Six practices for the mind to sustain positive, uplifting emotions — what Wilson calls “good hearted living”

As founder and president of the World Laughter Tour, Wilson has trained nearly 7,000 people in a therapeutic laughter program for use in schools, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and more.

“Humor holds this wonderful potential for human beings. It can fix what's broken. If we use it right, it can build self esteem and self confidence,” Wilson says. “In a workplace, there are ways in which we can demonstrate that the right kinds of humorous attitudes will help people be more productive, more creative, more satisfied, and get along better with each other.”

Listen to the full interview.