Jack Canfield Jack Canfield author. speaker. motivator.

Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]

 
Arianna Huffington Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]

 
Seth Godin Seth Godin author. speaker. linchpin.

Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]

 
Krishna Kaur Krishna Kaur yogi. philanthropist. dynamic teacher.

Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]

 
Norman Lear Norman Lear producer. philanthropist. tv legend.

Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]

 
Leilani Münter Leilani Münter race car driver. activist. carbon free girl.

Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]

 
Kevin Bales Kevin Bales Freedom Fighter. Philanthropist. Game Changer.

By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]

 
Sophie Chiche Sophie Chiche mom. big dreamer. lady in red.

Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]

 
Mastin Kipp Mastin Kipp Writer. Entrepreneur. Daily Lover.

Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]

 
Liz Phair Liz Phair singer. musician. crier.

Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]

 
Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu archbishop. author. peaceful leader.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]

 
Zainab Salbi Zainab Salbi author. ceo. humanitarian.

Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]

 
Sean Stephenson Sean Stephenson speaker. psychotherapist. life embracer.

Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]

 
Kia Miller Kia Miller yogi. meditator. teacher.

Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]

 
Simon Mainwaring Simon Mainwaring creator. writer. idea geek.

Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]

 
Shannon Bindler Shannon Bindler Strategist. Writer. Life Coach.

Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]

 
Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]

 
Jorge Perez Jorge Perez Agent. Producer. Photography Enthusiast.

Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com

 

humor

Jane Heller Jane Heller bestselling writer. comedic caregiver. ambulette driver.

Bestselling author Jane Heller's romantic comedy novels entertain readers around the world. Her latest book is nonfiction. You'd Better Not Die or I'll Kill You: A Caregiver's Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits. [www.janeheller.com]

My husband Michael has had a chronic digestive illness called Crohn’s disease since age 11 and been hospitalized nearly 100 times. As his caregiver, I’ve found myself in some truly unfunny situations. It’s unfunny when he’s doubled over in pain. It’s unfunny when he has to undergo yet another surgery. It’s unfunny when he lands in the ER on Christmas Eve instead of being able to celebrate the holiday with his family and friends.

But here’s what is funny: I call him “the Incredible Hulk” when steroids render him bloated and moonfaced; I dub my Porsche “the ambulette” when it’s pressed into service to ferry him to the doctor; I say, when he’s on a gurney about to be wheeled into the operating room, “You’d better not die or I’ll kill you,” which makes him laugh and dispels his anxiety – and mine.

Humor is a remarkable tool for mitigating stress, diffusing anger, and promoting a sense of well-being. It’s been my lifesaver ever since I was a child. My father died of cancer when I was six, and my mother married my stepfather when I was nine. Suddenly I was thrust into a Brady Bunch family of eight – a blend of stepsiblings who didn’t always get along. The dinner table was particularly fraught, with somebody inevitably bolting in a huff. I’d snuff out potential dramas by doing impersonations of the mailman, my history teacher, the guy at the local deli, you name it. By the end of my “act,” we all forgot to be mad at each other. I learned early on that humor helps to establish a connection between people, even those in conflict.

When I became a writer, the genre I chose was romantic comedy – the perfect combination of humor and happily ever after. The novels have been sold to Hollywood and one is currently being developed for a film, but the most satisfying part has been the feedback from readers who say, “Your books got me through a tough period by making me laugh.”

Humor gets us through tough periods. Now it’s getting Michael and me through his latest bout with Crohn’s. Humor keeps me balanced. Humor keeps me sane. Humor reminds me that, despite illness and disappointment and the grimmest of times, there are real moments of joy in this life, and we need to embrace them.

– Jane Heller

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