There is an organization known as The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH). That makes me feel better about life.
I got an e-mail today asking for nominations for the 2008 AATH Book Awards. The awards are set up to honor authors of books that further the mission of AATH: "to advance the understanding and application of humor and laughter for their positive benefits."
I was tempted to scoff at this as simply self-evident. But, while laughter in itself is good for you, it is also the case that, with training, one can build therapies on that fact and enhance the power of the smile.
There is a similar therapeutic effect with music. The Lovely Karen is a trained and certified Music Therapist. Music Therapy appears to be a bit further along as a profession, but I see a role of Humor Therapy as well.
Our neighbors Charlie and Nancy were involved in humor therapy for many years. They volunteered around the community as the clowns Happy G and O Lucky; we would see them in parades and at street festivals. We always thought it was simply their way to have fun.
Colleen interviewed them for a school project one evening and they explained to us about the deeper work they were doing, visiting the sick and dying and bringing cheer into hospitals.
I think that's pretty cool.