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 then caught the world’s attention as a form of exercise through the Indian Laughter Yoga movement and its many thousands of affiliated Community Laughter Clubs.