A Powerful Form Of Preventive (Lifestyle) Medicine
Laughter positively affects all aspects of being. Studies show that it is a legitimate and powerful form preventive (lifestyle) medicine, and a complementary option to other established therapeutic strategies for physiological, mental, and emotional health, and more.
- Physiological benefits: laughter is a therapeutic ally in healing and a valuable form of preventive and complementary medicine. It provides important natural defenses against illness.
- Mental benefits: laughter diffuses bad stress, enhances problem-solving skills, and creates a new perspective.
- Emotional benefits: laughter elevates moods, counteracts depression symptoms.
- Social benefits: laughter fosters better communication, and improves cooperation and empathy between people. It is a significant lubricant of human communication and relationships.
- Spiritual wellbeing: choosing to laugh and be positive teaches us to choose to live and be at peace with others, with our self and with our environment in our current situation. It helps us build resilience to stress and find meaning in life. The essence of what Laughter Wellness teaches is summarized in the following question: “What can I do now with a positive attitude?”
Benefits Compare To Aerobic Activity, But Without The Aches And Pains
Physical fitness stemming from laughter is a benefit known to few. Laughter is a recognized form of low-impact cardiovascular exercise. It jogs our internal organs and is particularly important for people who lead a sedentary life, seniors as well as bedridden or wheelchair-bound people (not to say that it also makes working out fun, not tedious!)
“The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium is similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic activity, but without the aches, pains and muscle tension associated with exercise. We don’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise, but we do recommend that you try to laugh on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system.” — Michael Miller, M.D. (Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center)
Reduces Healthcare Costs
Geneticist Kazuo Murakami showed that laughter therapy is an efficient, low-cost medical treatment that can cut healthcare costs by as much as 23%.
A Revolutionary Approach
Laughter Wellness regroups a large variety of safe, gentle and FUN simulated laughter techniques that all can learn, use and benefit from, into a comprehensive whole to enhance one’s wellbeing. You don’t have to be happy. We do not rely on jokes or comedy. It is most valuable and applicable in everyday life and in business because laughter is a proven, reliable and sustainable wellbeing solution that offers a valid approach to key elements of peak performance such as stress release, improved communication, cooperation and team-bonding, innovation and creativity, and a positive work environment.
There is much more to laughter than what first meets the eye. Laughter falls into one of five categories:
- Spontaneous laughter. This is unrelated to one’s free will, and is triggered by different (external) stimuli and positive emotions. Humor belongs to this group, amongst several other techniques. It has been around since time immemorial, with mixed results. Although often associated, it is important to note that laughter and humor are distinct events. Whereas humor is a stimulus that can occur without laughter, laughter is both an emotion and a response and can occur without humor.
- Stimulated laughter happens as a result of the physical contact or action (reflex) of certain stimuli (e.g., someone tickles you). It is a frequent source of embarrassment when practiced with strangers.
- Induced laughter is of a chemical nature e.g., by inhaling laughing gas (nitrous oxide).
- Pathological laughter is often associated with crying and tends to be uncontrollable and excessive. It is a relatively frequent consequence of brain damage, when not resulting from neurological illnesses.
- The fifth category is a new a refreshing approach to laughter, and Laughter Wellness’ tool of choice. It is called voluntary simulated laughter, i.e., triggered by oneself at will (self-induced). It is the most universal and inclusive way to tap into your own inner cellular pharmacy and use laughter for health and wellness.
It was first imagined by the American psychologist Dr. Annette Goodheart in the mid-1970s as a way to help rebalance the chemistry of emotions and heal the body, mind and spirit; it caught the world’s attention as a form of exercise through the Indian Laughter Yoga movement (now in its 20th year) and its many thousands of affiliated Community Laughter Clubs.
Free Of Limitations
Voluntary simulated laughter offers seven important benefits that the (rare) spontaneous laughter of daily life does not:
- It’s a valid alternative. Imagine cutting a lemon in half, and squeezing it in your mouth. How do you feel? The more vividly you imagine this experience, the stronger your body will react. Your mind knows there is no lemon, but your body doesn’t. It’s the same phenomenon when you simulate laughter. Your mind will always know the difference between simulated and genuine laughter, but your body won’t because it can’t think. The body can only feel. The physiological benefits of laughter are linked to its duration and intensity, not to what motivates you to laugh.
- It gives you more health benefits, because you can choose to laugh for extended periods of time. The more you laugh, the more physiological benefits you obtain. The spontaneous laughter that naturally occurs in daily life, in comparison, only comes for a few seconds here and there and does not produce the same level of benefits.
- It gives you more health benefits, because you can choose to laugh heartily from deep down in the belly. This is important from a health perspective, because laughter acts as a pump and the heartier it is, the bigger its impact. Deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the cleansing of the lymphatic system by creating a vacuum effect that pulls the lymph through the bloodstream. This increases the rate of toxic elimination by as much as 15 times the normal rate31. In daily life, deep belly laughter is rare and generally short-lived when it does occur.
- It allows people to vocalize rather than verbalize tension and safely diffuse it. Learning to release inner tensions without narrative solely through the expression of sound helps people see reality more clearly, without personal distortions.
- It is sustainable. Simulated laughter is always new, fresh and different. It’s the purest form of laughter there is because there is no reason for it. It is free of conditions, beyond culture and time, and requires no particular setup or equipment.
- It is reliable. Laughter Wellness is thoroughly documented, in print and online. There is nothing to stop you from laughing when you want to. In comparison, the spontaneous laughter of daily life is not reliable because it is dependent on too many factors outside of our control.
- It forces a shift in attitude from “I can’t” into “I can.” The regular practice of voluntary simulated laughter forces a shift from the belief that laughter is “nowhere” into the realization that laughter is “now here.” By choosing to laugh, you create safety for yourself, while establishing a choice to live.
Take your interest further!
Discover Laughter Wellness, a complete system of methods (lifestyle medicine) that promotes physical, mental, emotional and social health and wellbeing through laughter and associated empowering techniques. Laughter Wellness is designed to lessen the illness impact and help normalize people’s lives.
About the author: Sebastien Gendry is the founder and CEO of the Laughter Online University as well as The Laughter Consultants, Inc., a business dedicated to helping those organizations who wish to boost moral and productivity, or reduce stress and costs. A leading global expert on Laughter Therapy, he helps individuals and businesses introduce and/or re-establish the energy of laughter in their lives and work for better health, wellbeing and peak performance. Sebastien has over 10 years of full-time experience in his field working with 1000s on four continents.