The following articles are currently online.

Business in Vancouver - Stress relief means big business
The Peace Arch News - Grin and bear it
Victoria Times Colonist - Laugh Yourself Well
Humber College Newspaper - Humber Et Cetera
Toronto Sun - Laugh away February blahs

This article appeared in the Business in Vancouver, December 4-10, 2001
Special Feature - The Business of Health

Stress relief means big business

Therapies include comic relief, aroma therapy, computer hammers.

Laughing out loud could be the best medicine for workers stressed out about September 11 fallout, the Canadian dollar hovering at all-time lows, layoffs prompted by a global economic slowdown or high U.S. soft-wood lumber tariffs.

That's the message from Dr. Phela Goodstein, who is the doctor of humor. She visits offices to liven up work spaces and sells copies of a compact disc filled with infectious laughter.

"Chartered accountants can be sourpusses. But I've made them into laughing pusses," said Phela ( from her White Rock home.

And if a pre-September 11 Research Dimensions poll released in October can be believed, B.C. entrepreneurs are more in need of laughter than ever before.

By Andrea Johnson
This article appeared in The Peace Arch News, March 9, 2002

Grin and bear it

Dose of laughter prescribed for whatever ails us

Dr. Phela Goodstein believes some people should just take a pill. As in lighten up.

She should know. Since 1986, Dr. Phela Goodstein has been a certified humorologist who heals people through doses of humor.

The White Rock woman has developed the haha technique and laughing meditation. Along with her associates at the World Humor Institute, she - dressed as a jester in a lab coat - conducts laughing workshops and counsels depressed patients.

Think it's natural for everyone to chuckle? It's not as easy as it seems.

People are constantly faced with the demands of maintaining balance between jobs and families, weighed down with worries about financial security and health.

"I want people to learn to live in the POWER OF NOW," Phela said.

"So they're not worried about yesterday or tomorrow. Living in the NOW, nothing is as big as it seems.

"When we were kids we never worried about tomorrow. Living in the now is important."

Phela's been prescribing laughter ever since her friends told her she had a knack for cheering people up.

Phela studied in New York under Dr. Joel Goodman, director of the Humor Project. She was influenced by Dr. Norman Cousins, an American scientist who penned Anatomy of an Illness.

Laughter stimulates a person's pituitary gland which signals the body to release seratonin, which makes us feel better.

"When we laugh, we get everything out of our system," Phela said.

"It strengthens the immune system and, if you keep laughing, you just won't get sick."

She's invented laugh meditation - she describes it as "taking all of their pain and getting rid of their negativity."

The "HA HA" technique is an acronym for the progressive stages of HURT, ANGER, HUMOR and ACCEPTANCE, patients must go through before a painful situation can be released.

Her workshops include how to be positive in a negative world; how to stop beating yourself up; is your business killing you; how to play with yourself and LAUGHTER; The tastiest medicine with no side effects.

Since Sept. 11, Phela has been bombarded by calls from New York City.

"America has been calling like crazy," she said.

When Phela counsels victims affected by those tragedies as well as others who need hits of humor, she promotes positive outcomes in their lives to give them resilience to face trying moments successfully.

"Humor and happiness work in harmony," she said.

"Happiness is a natural state of being, when we take all the layers off and get rid of the programming, that's what we have."

"You've got to realize life is too short, don't take life seriously or you'll never get out of it alive," she said.

For more information, call 1-800-333-LAFF (5233).

By Helani Davison
This article appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist, May 13, 2001

Laugh Yourself Well

Are things getting you down? Got the rainy day blues? Don't worry. Get happy. Just contact Phela in White Rock. She is a Doctor of Humorology from the World Humor Institute.

Phela's journey to happiness began when she was laid up on her back in bed for one-and-a-half years after a car accident in 1985. "My friends rallied around me and decreed that my new purpose in life was to make people laugh."

That's where he HA-HA technique originated. The first H stands for Hurt and the A stands for Anger. "You need to get through both of those phases to get to a point of Humor and Acceptance, the second HA. Then you're ready to get on with your life with more understanding and compassion.

"But my greatest teacher was my father. He could find humor in anything - even a tragedy had a funny side. He kept me childlike until he died when I was 32. So I lived my life until then free of aggravation and full of creativity. After he died I grew up for one day only and I didn't like it, so I went back to being a kid again," she explained.

Phela studied in new York at the Humor Project. She also studied humor-creativity skills and has been greatly influenced by the works of Dr. Norman Cousins, physicist Albert Einstein, Dr. Abraham Maslow, who pioneered research on psychologically healthy persons, and she says, the universe.

"Dr. Cousins was diagnosed with a terminal illness about 15 years ago," explains Phela. "He booked himself into a hotel for three days and watched funny movies and laughed himself well."

Later, Cousins wrote a well-known book, Anatomy of an Illness. Studies show that laughter stimulates the pituitary glad to release endorphins. A good belly laugh acts as a vigorous workout.

"When we laugh we get everything out of our system. Our body chemistry changes and our immune system is strengthened," Phela continues. Even smiling can get our molecular structure dancing. "PHELA HAS THE POWER TO CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE OF JOY AND HAPPINESS AND SHE PASSES IT ON."

It is Phela's belief that humor and happiness work in tandem and that happiness work in tandem and that happiness is our natural state of being. This revolution of the spirit begins with the recognition that a wise and loving child dwells within each of us. As this child nurtured, we begin along that playful path of inner freedom and self-actualization in a Maslowian sense.

The Humor Doctor has put on workshops to tickle the funny bone of many corporations: Telus, Humber College, The Lake Head Board of Education, The Law Society of Upper Canada, The Toronto Business Show For Entrepreneurs and The Canadian Cancer Society. Donned in her "business suit" of a court jesters costume with a white lab coat, Phela is ready to get to work making people laugh. "The costume keeps me humble," she explains. "I thought the accountants would be the most difficult. They are such sourpusses. But they turned out to be the most responsive. I gave them permission to laugh."

One of Phela's popular workshops is entitled "Healing the Spirit Within or How to Have Fun Without Sex." She also does one-on-one counselling for women called "How to Capture and Keep Your Prince."

If you meet Phela, then see her regularly, you will notice that she looks completely different each time. Outrageous hats and an assortment of wigs make her a colourful character in her White Rock neighbourhood. "I'm uninhibited," she laughs. "I believe in expressing myself freely."

Phela's enthusiasm for life comes from her impassioned desire to help humanity. "Everyone has a gift to offer," she says with a smile. "And I am living mine, using my natural abilities."

Phela's laugh line is 1-800-333-LAFF (5233). She also has a CD, Healing Through Humor, available at

By Louise Sheridan
This article appeared in the Humber College Newspaper, April 2-8, 1998

Humber Et Cetera

Dr. Feelgood heals with humor

Laughter really is the best medicine for stress, according to Dr. Phela Goodstein, a Doctor of Humor from Willowdale, Ontario.

"We have to change the sour pusses to laughing pusses," said Phela, a humor therapist known as Dr. Phela Goodstein. "I'm all about attitude!"

"Phela said she wants to change the World by making it laugh. In 1987, she opened up the World's Humor Institute, which is her forum for fun, laughter and play.

Phela regularly conducts intense, 60-minute stress management workshop in which she draws participants into a less complicated state of mind.

"I bring them back to their child part. People have lost it! They just know how to honk their horns," Phela said.

This Doctor of Humor uses an approach she developed in the eighties called the HA HA technique. HA HA represents the four steps necessary to laughing problems away: Hurt, Anger, Humor and Acceptance. Phela said the HA HA technique is quite effective and people are usually laughing and feeling less stressed 10 minutes into her seminars.

She calls a higher level of consciousness the "seventh sense." She says we all have six senses, including intuition, with the seventh being the ability to laugh at oneself. Dr. Phela Goodstein said if we tap into our seventh sense, we will be able to manage stress in our lives and create a deeper awareness of ourselves.

"The big problem in life is two things, ego and judging. When you can overcome those, you are less stressed. It's time people knew what the seventh sense's laughter," Phela said.

Phela conducts her seminars wearing a court jester hat and a lab coat. She says she is the first female court jester in history and uses this character of the past to create a comical setting to get her point across.

"In medieval times, the court jester was called, on command, to humor the kings, queens and judges. The court jester had all the wisdoms and they didn't mind being called the fool," Phela said.

And Phela said she doesn't mind being called the fool either.

Goodman founded the Humor Project in 1977 and more than 800,000 people have attended his conferences Worldwide.

"Laughter has no accent. If you hear people laughing, you don't hear an accent," Goodman said, "Humor is a universal language."

The Humor Project will be holding it's 13th annual international conference on April 3 to 5 in Saratoga, New York. Speakers from all over the world will be attending.

Goodman said there is a growing body of physiological research claiming that laughter has healing power.

"Respiration and circulation are enhanced through the act of laughing. Stress related hormones in the brain are released through laughter and the body's immune system is activated," Goodman said. "We can tickle stress before it tickles us."

But, back in Toronto, Dr. Phela Goodstein says there is much negativity and "ego" still lurking. This fall, Phela is moving the World's Humor Institute to Vancouver to spread her message out west.

Regardless of where she is based, Phela says her objective remains clear: to demonstrate how humor and laughter affect the total being, she said she wants to "rehumanize" people. She has been making people laugh all of her life and says it is a natural ability held close to her heart.

"I worked for a big corporation once and I humored people into doing their job. My friends that I've known for 25 years said I should go out and do this for a living, so I did."

Phela says her shoulders are worn away from people crying on them. So what does a Doctor of Humor do when she is upset?

"What do I do? I have to take my whole workshop over again," Phela said with a belly full of laughs.

If a trip down south is out of the question, fight the February blahs with a few belly laughs. That's the advice of Phela, a self-proclaimed "Doctor of Humor" who urges folks to lighten up by transforming stress into laughter. February - with it's grey skies and midwinter doldrums - is admittedly the mirth-maker's most challenging month.

"Distract yourself by watching something good on television, see a movie or exercise," suggests Phela, who provides corporate workshops designed to reform even the grumpiest sad sack. "Get your mind refocused."

'Soul Entertainer'

Although she conducts her speaking engagements in a jester's costume and a lab coat, Phela insists she's more than a stand-up comic. "I'm a soul entertainer," she says.

"I try to instill a new way of looking at things." Phela, who founded the Institute of Humor in 1987, encourages participants to "live for the moment" and abandon past baggage. "Don't worry about the past," she says. "It's history and that's what bogs us down... We have to rediscover how to have fun." By refocusing our attitudes and learning to laugh at ourselves, Phela says we can achieve "breakthroughs" in our mindset. "Negative behaviour arises out of aggravation," say the wacky dynamo. "I instill a deeper self-awareness that helps my clients identify what's bugging them, understanding it and letting it go." It takes 40 minutes for Phela to teach her unique "HA HA" technique - an acronym for Hurt, Anger, Humor and Acceptance - four progressive stages that must occur before a painful situation can be released. One of Phela's most daunting experiences occurred when she was commissioned to work her magic on a group of chartered accountants. I've never seen such a serious looking group," she recalls. "I was initially so intimidated that I wanted to walk out." But a "psyched-up" Phela, who charges her emotional battery 36 hours before each speaking engagement, managed to loosen up the crowd of 100. "There was one sour puss sitting in a back row who wouldn't crack a smile," she says. "I finally got a reaction by hurling a Styrofoam brick at him." Despite the light-hearted nature of her work, Phela is serious about what she does. I feel like a crusader who wants to inject some humor in a world that often forgets to laugh," she says". My mission in life is to end global whining and levitate this world a little higher.

Markham is her next target when she speaks at the North Toronto Women's Show this weekend at the Radisson Hotel (Hwy. 7 and Hwy. 404). Studies are proving that laughter may indeed be the best medicine. Research conducted by psychologist Herbert Lefcourt of the University of Waterloo and Rod Marin of the University of Western Ontario indicates that folks who are predisposed to laughter become less depressed and anxious. Psychologist and stand-up comic David Factor agree. "It's a great coping mechanism," he says. "Everybody needs humor and fun. It's like a refreshing shower that rejuvenates us. Laughter is what gets us through our day-to-day experiences." And although laughter isn't a cure-all for disease, Factor says a sense of humor makes the ride through life a whole lot more fun. "Nobody likes a sourpuss," he says. "We all want to deal with someone who's happy. It's a quality that bounces off us and infuses other people."


Family and marriage counsellor Paul Ricketts calls laughter "a natural tension-reliever." Research, he says, is proving that a good chuckle stimulates endorphins in the brain, bolstering a person's overall mood. In today's highly stressed world, we don't seem to have time for this priceless commodity, says Ricketts of the Hamilton Heather Sciences Corporation (formerly Chedoke-McMaster Hospital.) "As we become overwhelmed, we tend to lose sight of humor," he says. Used properly - not cruelly - laughter helps build relationships and is a useful tool in coping with personal crises, Ricketts adds.

This article appeared in the Toronto Sun, February 7th, 1997

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