I heard on the radio yesterday that children in Bangalore, India are having lessons on how to laugh. Due to the success of these classes, there are even plans to open the world’s first Laughter University. When Dr. Madan Kataria the founder of the now worldwide ‘Laughter Clubs’, opened his first one more than twenty years ago, only four people attended. Affectionately known as the ‘Guru of Giggling’ he is quite possibly the foremost advocate of laughter as a great antidote to stress. Whether or not you are into yoga – Dr. Kataria and his wife, Madhuri are both yoga practitioners and incorporate what they have learned about laughter to teach Yoga Laughter – it is pretty obvious to me that anything that makes you laugh for several minutes at a time has to be a good thing.
It has already been well documented that a good belly laugh every day produces a healthy amount of endorphins, which in turn, cause you to feel more positive and therefore less stressed. Depending on whose research you take more seriously (pun intended!) children appear to laugh more than adults, although other, even more serious research may suggest that when socially interacting with friends or even strangers, adults laugh much more than children do when interacting with their peers.
Personally, I don’t think we really need serious or not so serious research to tell us what we already know – laughter is good. Provided it is not at someone else’s expense of course. And I don’t know about you but I suspect I still have some serious improvement to make when it comes to the frequency with which I laugh, especially in the ‘belly bursting’ sector of this beautifully free and powerful activity.
Some people report incredible results when they set aside five, ten or even fifteen minutes a day to simply laugh. They start off with what you might call a fake laugh. That is, a forced laugh for no other reason than to get themselves going. The human equivalent to using an old-fashioned crank handle to start up a stubborn car. And just like the car engine that roars into life, before they know it, they are roaring with full-blown, belly-aching laughter.
So what do we need to do if like me, you know you could improve your laughter levels? Try and watch at least one very funny You Tube video every day, listen to something that always make you laugh. Buy a joke book for yourself. Watch more stand-up comedians – either live or on TV. The possibilities are out there, and we all have wildly varying tastes. We simply need to choose to take life as well as ourselves, a little less seriously, and have a good, healthy laugh.
I’d love to read your funniest true story, joke or recent experience that made you genuinely laugh out loud. Email me with it and I will send you some funny stuff back.
I’ll leave the last word to a former Radio 4 newsreader and continuity announcer, Charlotte Green, who could not hold back her giggles anymore after a colleague whispered in her ear that the world’s oldest sound recording sounds like ‘a bee in a jar’. I actually remember hearing this live and howling with laughter and the best part was it was only ten past eight in the morning!
If this doesn’t make you laugh in the one minute and ten seconds it takes to listen, I think you better find your nearest Yoga Laughter instructor!