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The Power of Laughter


“A day without laughter is a wasted day”

-          Charlie Chaplin

 

When we meet to discuss the past week and plan future teaching sessions, we invariable end up laughing. This might be about what was said or something we did. Sometimes about the assumptions we have made and ultimately about the thing we were fearful of and that right there is a super power. If we can invoke humour even the darkest times are brighter and the heaviest loads feel lighter.

 

When we started to write this article, we looked first for quotes about laughter. There were so many it was hard to choose. Charlie Chaplin’s words, however, really epitomised what we want to say. We are the architect of our own experience. We give our own unique meaning to things that happen and engage in thoughts and behaviours that ultimately manifest our outcomes. Laughter, then is a super-tool which we can use to create a positive experience or help us cope with difficult times.  

 

Thinking about our C.A.L.M tool from a recent post, laughter is a powerful medicine that is free to use whenever we need.

 

The ancient Greeks and Native American Indians used humour to treat physical and mental ill health. Now in modern medicine, Laughter Therapy is recognised as a way to improve our mental health reducing stress and anxiety, lifting our mood and decreasing symptoms of depression. It improves our respiratory and cognitive function, reduces insomnia, improves the circulation and has a beneficial effect on our tolerance to pain[1][2].

 

In short, laughter has been proven to improve our quality of life.

 

A further joy of laughter is that it contagious. When someone is laughing it is very hard not to smile and join in, even when we don’t know what they are laughing about. Just seeing someone so thoroughly enjoying themselves is enough. When babies laugh we are delighted and reminded of the wonder of the world around us.

 

Scientists now understand that laughter is a form of communication that strengthens our relationships and social networks and hence ultimately increases our resilience.

  

Laughter can even help when we have difficult conversations, used with integrity it can help lift the mood in the room and regulate negative feelings even in adverse situations.

 

Sometimes we laugh until we cry. This often happens if we are full of pent up emotion and it acts as a form of catharsis. Much healthier than an angry explosion. After the outburst we feel better and there is no residual guilt or consequences of shouting.

 

Laughter can be spontaneous or stimulated (eg by tickling). Either is fine and even when laughter is stimulated or faked it quickly becomes real.

 

Think  back to the last time you really laughed – how did it feel? What were you laughing about? Are you smiling already

 

Make laughter a part of your self-care regime

 

Try this:


Give yourself all the benefits of laughing on a regular basis remember even if you don’t feel like it, once you start laughing your body will know what to do and you will get the endorphins and stress beating benefits

What makes you laugh?

 

Find a comedy show you like and listen in whenever you need


Try a comedy club


Laughing with friends or family and reminiscing has the added benefits of strengthening connections


Tickle a loved one


Make a joke jar and chose one when you need it


When remembering lost loved ones remember the things they did that made you laugh


When things go wrong rather than getting angry perhaps try to see the humorous side

 

Laugh till you cry for a release of emotion



For a more formal activity, try laughter yoga – a set of intentional movements and breathing exercises designed to promote voluntary laughter. Follow the link below to hear more about it:


For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your

human experience see our book:



[1] Zhao J., Yin H., Zhang G., Li G., Shang B., Wang C., Chen L. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of laughter and humour interventions on depression, anxiety and sleep quality in adults. J. Adv. Nurs. 2019;75:2435–2448.

[2] Akimbekov NS, Razzaque MS. Laughter therapy: A humor-induced hormonal intervention to reduce stress and anxiety. Curr Res Physiol. 2021;4:135-138.

 

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