The Wishbone, Backbone and Funny Bone

backbone bone elizabeth gilbert funny bone hazel parcells humerous reba mcentire wishbone Nov 29, 2016

Ready to get healthy? “Trade your wishbone for a backbone and get to work.”

That good advice came from one of my mentors, the late Hazel Parcells (1889-1996), who vanquished terminal illness and lived to the grand old age of 106. As the Naughty Nutritionist®, I cannot help but think she also enlisted the life-enhancing power of the “funny bone.” Dr. Parcells chose to live lightly, make mischief and laugh long and often years before Norman Cousins popularized the saying “laughter is good medicine.”

Many other people have also offered wise words about these three special bones, and there are probably hundreds of variations on the “turning your wishbone into a backbone” idea.

  • “See now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.
  • “Put your backbone where you wishbone is.” – Novelist and Poet Vikram Seth
  • “You don’t need a wishbone. You need a backbone.” — Author and Medical Intuitive Caroline Myss

While it’s easy to make fun of the wishbone — and the common human failing of wishing without action — desire does have a purpose. And laughter does too. Indeed without them our backbone could break.

Singer and songwriter Reba McEntire put it well: “To thrive in life, you need three bones: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.”

How so? Football coach Duffy Daugherty explains: “We like them big . . . but we’ll settle for players with three kinds of bones — a funnybone, a wishbone and a backbone. The funnybone is to enjoy a laugh, even at one’s own expense. The wishbone is to think by, set one’s goals high and have dreams and ambitions. And the backbone – well, that’s what a player needs to get up and go to work and make those dreams come true.”

Can three special bones also confer health benefits? Absolutely. Without desire, growth, purpose, perseverance, accomplishment and fun, we lead lives of depletion and desperation. Indeed the ongoing stress will contribute to breakdown in every part of our bodies and brains. While this may appear to be nothing more than common sense, it’s supported by a growing body of science in the fields of psychoneuroimmunology, psychoneuroendocrinology, psychospiritualphysiology and other areas of integrative and functional medicine.

Does that sound too complicated? Then keep it simple. Wishbone. Backbone. Funny Bone.

Don't ever miss a blog

Subscribe to stay Up-To-Date