Charlie Chaplin said that and I couldn’t agree more. Laughter nourishes our heart and our soul.
Scientists study laughter. Gelatology is the study of laughter and it’s physiological and psychological effects on the body. This branch of science was pioneered by a guy named William Fry of Stanford University. Clinical studies have shown that laughter helps patients with atopic dermatitis react less to allergens. Other studies have shown laughter can alleviate pain, stress, and help with cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. Laughter as a form of therapy has emerged in recent years. Laughter yoga and laughter meditation are the two most common.
Laughter is one of the most contagious human experiences. Have you ever walked into a room full of people laughing and found yourself laughing with them though you have no idea what the joke is? Laughter is a collaboration between the mind and the body. It’s one of the distinguishing features of being human. Laughter helps us to connect and bond with one another. I read somewhere that primates groom each other to connect and bond. I was a cosmetologist for 15+ years. I regularly groomed a lot of people. My clients became friends. They trusted me. People open up to their hairdresser more than they do to a psychologist. I think it’s because of the connection made through the grooming process. But unlike apes and gorillas, we humans live in groups that are too large for the grooming process to help us bond and connect. We can’t all be hairdressers. So, as humans evolved it seems laughter evolved with us to facilitate the group bonding and connection that we need to thrive. Laughter helps us bond quickly and easily with groups of people.
Laughter is so important to our health and well being. It boosts our immune system, aids in circulation, and protects us from heart disease. Laughter lowers anxiety, releases tension, and fosters resilience. My daughter suffers from a severe anxiety disorder that causes her panic attacks and sleepless nights. I have a 6-month-old puppy. Recently, my dog has noticed my daughter struggling at night and has taken it upon herself to comfort my daughter. So how does she relieve my daughter’s anxiety? By making my daughter laugh. My dog will tickle my daughter and act silly. She’ll lick my daughter’s face and basically ham it up. She’ll send Alexa into fits of laughter and within 15 minutes her anxiety is significantly better. Alexa has not had a panic attack in weeks because every time her anxiety gets high enough to trigger a panic attack the dog steps in and uses the power of laughter to calm my daughter down.
I’m setting an intention this month to laugh more. I want to laugh every day. I’m going to set aside time every morning for laughter meditation. There are loads of laughter meditation videos on YouTube. I’m curious to see if my day is different when I begin it with laughter. My focus word will be joy. I am going to consciously focus on the joy in my day and the joy I see in the world rather than all that is disappointing, broken, and failed.
When was the last time you laughed? Really laughed? What made you laugh? How did laughing make you feel?