The Power Of Laughter

Laughter is a very powerful, positive resource that we all possess in unlimited supply. No-one needs to be taught to laugh, it’s something that happens spontaneously when we are just a few months old and babies around the world all laugh in the same language, a phenomenon that continues into adulthood. Did you realize how multi-lingual you are? You can laugh in the same language as everyone on this planet and there is no better way to communicate. Laughter is the language of joy and love.

Laughter connects us to other people, an essential survival strategy in our evolutionary progress. When we laugh with kind intent with other people our bodies produce Oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’. If we all laughed together every day it would be very difficult to be in conflict and disharmony with others, perhaps we would all become more open, accepting and less judgmental of each other?

Laughter serves us in so many ways. When we laugh we heal ourselves both physically and emotionally and may also positively affect those around us. Laughter spreads, it may be the most contagious and infectious condition that we come across. Even when we resist the opportunity to laugh we are still affected because our minds and bodies are programed to respond to laughter. When we laugh often enough, our brains actually change as a result. Then our stress response is less likely to be triggered over minor incidents and frustrations like traffic jams and other daily inconveniences.  As our levels of stress decrease so our immune system strengthens giving us better health.

Laughter is a resource we can call upon in times of adversity. It helps to make us more resilient, to keep things in perspective and to remember that in the grand scheme of things, our troubles are usually far less important than we think. This is a time when people who have learned to laugh ‘for no reason’ as taught in Laughter Yoga, the laughter activity founded by Doctor Madan Kataria, have a distinct advantage. When you realize that laughter does not need to depend on external influences like comedy, humour or funny events and that you can laugh anytime you are willing to, you can laugh yourself better! Even if you don’t feel like laughing if you can manage to do it for a few minutes your brain will make a biochemical match to the laughter you express. Your problems won’t change but your attitude may and in turn reduce your level of stress. Laughter invokes a relaxation response and we can not be stressed and anxious when we are relaxed. Similar affects can be temporarily achieved with drugs, alcohol and pleasure inducing activities but unlike the alternatives, laughter carries no negative side affects and is free and available in unlimited supply.

The importance of positive emotion is emphasised in Positive Psychology as a fundamental ingredient of subjective well-being and laughter facilitates this emotional state almost immediately. Few people experience natural spontaneous laughter every day of their lives in the intensity required for maximum affect, which is why Laughter Yoga is so effective.

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