“Laughter is a tranquiliser with no side effects”. This quote by Arnold H. Glasow sums up the infectious nature of laughter and the effect it can have on humans.
Laughter is one of those unifying things that transverses all barriers – language, culture, age, sex. Who hasn’t, at some time, laughed so much they couldn’t stop, and when they did their stomach hurt?
I used to be one of those kids who laughed at anything – even someone’s pain (I blame my parents for that because every time I hurt myself they made a joke out of it). Adults too often forget about the fun aspect of life and slip into the usual constraints where laughter is concerned – laugh appropriately in public and (sometimes) uncontrollably in private, or with close friends. The worst type of laughter is that brand that comes out at networking events and first dates.
Laughter is something I have considered regularly recently. As a mother to a toddler I am greeted with laughter several times a day. My son finds the most inane things funny – such as something we pass when driving or the food he is eating. His laughter sets mine off and soon we’re both in stitches. Children laugh so much more than adults.
This brings me to an important question: have adults forgotten how to laugh? We all have favourite TV shows that produce a giggle, as do the forwarded email jokes we all get, but could we say we laugh daily? If laughter is the best medicine, do we all need a top up?
Laughter Yoga leader Cris Popp thinks so. Mr Popp set up Laughter Works in Melbourne after training with the founder of the world Laughter Yoga movement, Madan Kataria. His job is to tickle the funny bones of uptight office workers and family members through laughter, exercise and breathing techniques. What a job!
Sydney laughter therapist and trainer Helene Grover said laughter, “induces natural body pain killers and assists the immune system”.For those of us for whom exercise is a four-letter word, laughter “is considered a form of internal jogging which improves blood circulation and is beneficial for the respiratory and cardiovascular systems,” Ms Grover said.”Laughter is an exceptionally useful health booster to body and minds,” she said. Some would pay hundreds of dollars for a health tonic that does all that – and we have it free, on tap!
It would seem that laughter is a cheap and easy form of mood alteration. So seriously do they believe in the health-giving properties of laughter, that laughter yoga clubs around the world named the first Sunday in May as World Laughter Day. There is even an Advanced School of Laughter in Santa Barbara, USA.
Maybe we should take a leaf out of our children’s books and find life funny again. Laughter can change the way we look at everything, from grief to tonight’s meal. So up your dose of the good stuff and get set for World Laughter Day.