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Monthly Minute (#3)

Reflecting upon my interview with Shane Burcaw (“Laughing At His Nightmare), the thought that continues to make me smile is the way in which Shane processes and deals with everyday life.

When I was a kid, my mother subscribed to a uniquely shaped monthly magazine called, Reader’s Digest. One monthly feature was called, “Laughter, the Best Medicine.” In that feature there always was a story of a difficult situation that turned comical and made you laugh. I always read that feature.

Shane uses humor like a photographer uses a lens.
“My family makes jokes when we are annoyed or angry or upset,” Shane said. “That mindset has totally influenced my worldview, teaching me that negative events only have as much power as we give them.”

As I said in the first post, most medical statistics indicate that Shane has outlived his prognosis. He’s 26 years old and he’s been experiencing life from the seat of his wheelchair since he was about two years old. He weighs less than my German shepherd mix. Yet he chooses to find humor in his daily life, and a weekly feature at his blog ( is “Weekly Smiles” in which Shane goes through his week and shares what made him smile every single day of the week.

Please understand, and this might be challenging, but when Shane talks about utilizing humor as his way to view life’s challenges and routines, it’s not like a Bugs Bunny cartoon (I know, I’m dating myself). There is substantial research to support the fact that Shane’s worldview has tremendous health benefits.

“Laughter addresses the same issues as fear,” said Gina Barreca, Ph.D in an article about the value of humor. “Not to dismiss them, but to strengthen our ability to confront them. Laughter is essential in terms of being able to cope with the stresses and pressures of everyday life. Being able to find and use your own humor…indicates a useful ability to envision a situation from a number of perspectives. We enrich our lives when we are able to create and deal with humor.”

Don’t Say, “I Can’t”


  1. Tony Serra

    Agreed, laughter is indeed the best medicine. It makes you feel good and it’s free – – and hopefully addictive! I also like the mindset that negative events only have as much effect or power over us that we give them. Good post.

  2. Jon Burcaw

    Saltman, Great piece about Shane. Can’t tell you what an honor it is to read about your own kid in a venue such as this.
    I can tell you… and you knew this about me a good ten years before Shane came along… laughter is essential. Period.
    Thanks again, Sir and keep this up!
    Kind Regards, Shane and Andrew’s dad

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