An Adultitis Fighter is someone who rallies against rules that don’t exist and engages in ruthless, senseless acts of silliness that undermine Adultitis and its unadventurous version of adulthood. Once a month, we shine a light upon the most remarkable among us, holding them up as a dazzling example of what we should strive for in this epic battle against a formidable enemy.
Karyn Buxman is a professional Adultitis Fighter. Seriously. She makes a living helping companies and organizations find the power in humor. Her mission is to improve global health, business, and peace through laughter and heal the humor-impaired.
See what we mean?!
Karyn is a nurse, neurohumorist, and Hall of Fame speaker who has more accolades than The Empire has stormtroopers, but to us, the coolest thing is seeing someone so successful be so willing to share her silly side. As a professional speaker himself, Jason has been warned many times about showing too much of his “childlike” side, because people won’t take you seriously. Unfortunately, too many people assume than in order to really become successful in life, you have to be buttoned-down and serious all the time. Being “professional” often means lacking personality.
Karyn Buxman blows those assumptions to smithereens.
In a world reeling from headlines filled with bad news, we need more leaders like Karyn who give us permission to laugh at ourselves, unleash our inner child, and own the power of humor within us.
In recognition of their efforts, Adultitis Fighters of the Month receive a special mini-canvas hand-painted by Jason, along with a certificate of honor, a sweet patch, and other Adultitis-Fighting tools. We asked Karyn some questions about how she fights the Big A and what advice she has for others…
What are some of your favorite ways to fight Adultitis?
Stepping out of my comfort zone and engaging others in playful conversations and fun.
Constantly seeking out the absurd, the incongruous, the funny. It’s there more often than not. So many people are just too busy to notice.
Not taking myself too seriously. This has become easier as I’ve gotten older. It seems as almost a reverse bell-curve: we are unaware when we are children what others think of us. Then as we get older we care more and more what our parents think of us, then what our friends think, our peers, our colleagues, and the list goes on. Around 40 years of age I grew in my own confidence and cared less and less what others think. I’m not 100% there yet, but how liberating not to care if your friends, family or colleagues think you’re a bit absurd or zany. That gives you even more opportunity to tap into fun and happiness and lessen your chance to be zapped by Adultitis!
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your own fight against Adultitis?
My husband Greg has taken my fun meter up another notch. I truly believe he is an 8-year-old trapped in an adult body (and I love that about him!).
I recall when his son (my bonus-son) Tom was 6. He asked Greg if he could take a shower with his socks on. I was about to say “Heck no!” when Greg said, “Sure! Why not!” Then Tom asked if he could take his towel in the shower, too. And before I could say, “Are you kidding?!”, Greg said, “You bet!” And when Tom emerged from the shower with sopping wet socks and towel, Greg proceeded to show him the difference in the weight of a dry towel versus his wet towel. The whole thing became a science lesson without Tom even knowing it! What a great lesson for me, as well. The adult in me had a knee-jerk reaction: “People don’t hop in the shower with their socks and towel!” And the kid in Greg was smart enough to question that assumption. “Why not?” Just because it was a bit messy, he understood that play is a marvelous learning opportunity. I’ve taught the importance of humor and fun for decades, but now more than ever, I do my best to tap into the wisdom of play and silliness.
What is something you loved doing as a child that you still do in some form today?
• Play board games and card games. Nowadays so many people play games digitally, but you just can’t beat the fun of sitting down with others to play games like Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, or one of our new favorites: Cards Against Humanity.
• Play with my food.
• Play car games. See Yellow Car.
• Play with kids. The ones who seem most delighted by my company are my two grandchildren, Ayla (4) and Zarek (5). When we can’t be together physically, we play via FB video. We love playing with all the different digital accessories!
• Hang out with people who make me laugh. I’m selective with who I spend time with. My time is my most precious commodity and I don’t spend it lightly. I used to spend lots of time trying to convince others to be happy. Now I find the folks who are already in alignment with my beliefs and we laugh (and laugh… and laugh!) together a LOT!
• Watch funny movies & TV. In my youth it was Disney and LaughIn. I’m a sucker for slapstick so National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation still leaves me howling. And my favorite sitcom is Big Bang Theory.
• Act Silly. I don’t mind facing the back of the elevator and engaging with complete strangers, singing silly songs, or dancing in public to the music in my head. Some folks tell me that they don’t want to “look silly.” I love sharing that the word ‘silly’ derived from the word ‘selag’ which originally was a blessing to be healthy, happy and prosperous. I would wish everyone more silliness, wouldn’t you?!
What is your strategy for dealing with people who are obviously infected with Adultitis?
I guess that depends. If it were someone that was a chance encounter, say in a public place where we had no relationship, I would keep on going. I’ve learned over time that there are people who bring joy when they enter a room and others who bring joy when they leave. And you cannot change other people. Rather than spend lots of energy trying to convince those who do not want to be convinced, I look for those likeminded souls who wish to join in the fun.
If it is someone that I have a connection with—through my work, my family or friends, or my social connections—I would first test the water to see if they were open to ideas. (If not, see above.) The conversation might begin with me saying something like, “I’m so excited about some of the latest findings about humor and the brain. There are soooo many ways humor and play and fun can help people!” If the person responded with something like, “Really? Like what?” I would continue the conversation that would be similar to something called reminiscence therapy—encouraging them to recall fun events and experiences when they were younger. It might be questions similar to the ones you’re asking me about. And then based on some of their experiences I would encourage them to find a similar way to engage in that behavior now, while at the same time getting them to see how those practices could help them feel better, be more connected to others, and have a better quality of life.
What advice do you have for someone who is feeling overwhelmed by Adultitis?
Let them know that this can be a temporary condition. And that there are measures they can take to get over it, and vaccinate themselves so that there is less likelihood that they’ll be infected again. I’d let them know they are not alone. There are a ton of folks who are in recovery from Adultitis and that if others can do it, they can do it, too, if they are motivated enough to take action. The first step is recognition. And once they acknowledge it, they’re off to a good start.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If what resonates in any way with you, I’d love for you to watch my TEDx talk, “How Humor Saved the World.”
My mission is to make the world a better place through laughter—and to heal the humor impaired. Keep up the great work, Jason & Kim! You are making the world a better place, as well, by fighting Adultitis!
Congrats to Karyn Buxman, October 2017 Adultitis Fighter of the Month. Thank you for making the world more awesome!