Maia Aziz

What a hoot! Come on People, there is no way you are not rolling on the floor laughing…. Crack me up. I love watching hysterical videos, sitcoms, talk shows, you name it, I am always up for a laugh and I enjoy being around people who know how to let their hair down. I believe, like so many people, that laughter is the best medicine. Sometimes the simplest things in life are often overlooked, yet the most healing. That is why I seek people, places or things with positive energy. Speaking of positive energy, I met Maia Aziz, it just so happens, a the Toronto Positive Psychology Conference and just fell in love with her energy. We met on the first day and immediately realized we were two peas in a pod. Then I found out what she does for a living and it totally made sense. She is a Social Worker and a Certified Humor Professional. That is freakin  awesome! You can check Maia and her radio show out at: http://www.withloveandlaughter.ca/

 

                                                                                 Hey did you know?

A study from Oxford University revealed that laughter may be a great natural pain reliever. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins – the body’s natural pain fighter.  Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and provide temporary pain relief.  Laughing may be difficult while in pain, but medical professionals are looking at ways to spark humor wherever possible, such as playing comedic movies in hospital waiting rooms.

http://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/8-ways-humor-heals#slide=3

 

Maia uses this exact concept, where she takes humor and uses it to heal. Here is a little more about my new friend and all the good that she is doing for the world:

 

Why did you choose this path/career?

As a social worker accompanying people through difficult moments of their lives, I was always interested in what made the difference between those who made it, and even became stronger as a result, and those who really struggled to get back up after a loss or personal crisis. While others continued to study the problems these people dealt with- drug addiction, abuse, loss- I was more interested in their resilience and what character strengths they had developed that helped them cope with adversity. I realized I could never eliminate painful life events. These are a part of life, but if I could help people be better equipped to deal with these painful moments and to live fully than that would be pretty cool indeed.

                                                                                  What led you on your journey?

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I was a pretty serious kid. There were high expectations of us as kids. We were to study hard, perform well in certain extracurricular activities etc. We weren’t allowed to watch a lot of TV but the one thing we were allowed to watch were British comedies. I grew up watching these hilarious shows and learned from a very young age how laughing could make you feel better, made life feel lighter and could connect you to others. As I grew up and left home, I began seeking out humor and comedy to make myself feel better when I was stressed or feeling down. I’d rent comedy movies after a bad breakup. I’d go to a comedy club when I’d bombed an exam. I’d hang out with girlfriends who’d make me laugh when I was broke and feeling lost. I still didn’t understand why this was helpful for me but I knew it worked.

 

Tell us about your journey!

Having worked as a social worker and then administrator in the healthcare system here in Montreal for over 20 years, about 6 years ago a colleague sent me a YouTube video that she thought would make me laugh. It was connected to a link to a scholarship program of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. As a lark I applied and won a scholarship to attend this therapeutic humor conference where I first learned the psychology and science behind why humor and laughter are such powerful tools for health and well-being. From there I learned more about the positive psychology work of Martin Seligman and eventually completed a 3 year academic program and graduated as a Certified Humor Professional in 2016. Since then I’ve gone on to host an internet radio show on the subject, to write about the applications of humor and to speak and give workshops to help others learn how to bring more laughter into their lives.

 

What have been the highlights and/or challenges along the way?

Many think humor is all fun and games. Ok, it kind of is. But humor is serious business! The power of humor and laughter to help us cope with adversity and stress is based in psychology and neuroscience. Getting people to see this can sometimes be a challenge, but thankfully research is really building in this field and proving the power of humor and laughter for personal well-being and social connection.

 

I’m so fortunate to have had so many wonderful opportunities, international speaking engagements, radio appearances etc. But honestly the biggest highlight in all of this has been the people I have met and connected with. As a result of pursuing this journey I have had so many interesting, heart-based and often hilarious conversations with all kinds of people who are doing incredible work trying to make the world a better place through humor and positive psychology. But, without a doubt for me the biggest highlights have been when an individual who listens to my show, or comes to hear me speak or reads an article I wrote, comes up to me or sends me an email telling me how what I said resonated with them and lets me in on their personal story of how humor got them through a really tough time.

 

Who are you trying to reach?

Everyone! Let’s face it, adult life is hard. We all experience rough life moments, from health scares to job loss to losing people we love. Everyone can benefit from adding some laughter to their lives. And organizations can benefit too. Leaders who use humor (appropriately!) gain credibility and have employees who listen more, learn better, and are more productive, creative and engaged in their work.

 

What 3 tips or advice do you have for our readers?

1. Find ways to laugh every day.

2. Build yourself a humor toolkit for those moments when it may be harder to see the

funny.

3. Connect through being fully present and smiling. That’s right, make eye contact with the cashier at the grocery store. Maybe even use her name, and smile when you say thank-you! Watch the ripple effect.

 

 A  heartfelt thank you to Sandy, whose very name embodies my message of joyful living.

 

Maia, You Rock. I am excited to see what we do together to make people laugh. Keep those funny videos coming.

 

-SJW