Spiritual WellnessSpiritual wellness is about wholeness on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is about finding meaning and purpose in our life and our place in the greater universe; positively engaging with others, self and our environment.

In this article I’d like to share my experience with a particular approach to laughter and the marked impact I have seen it have times and times again on the spiritual wellness and overall well being of people, helping them shift from a negative into a positive mental attitude, opening doors and possibilities and inviting other elements of levity such as play, wonder and celebration of life back into their life.

The laughter path I am on is about intentionally choosing to laugh – engaging by choice through the sounds, movements and behaviors of levity, connection, joy, health, etc. – in order to create the chemistry and energies that come with these.

Choosing to laugh does not change your outer circumstances but how you perceive them. A meaningful life and a happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Seeking to lead a happy life is associated with being a “taker” (there is an emptiness inside that you are trying to fill) while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver” (you are full inside and want to share that). Take time to think about this.

Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.

Beyond its health benefits, intentional laughter is about changing your mental map through the practice of releasing negative thoughts and emotions. The experience of being able to genuinely laugh when you want to (you get there with a bit of practice), simply because you want to, creates an inner pool of attraction for a different way to be in the world and how to react to its many challenges. It may not make you feel like laughing all the time, but it creates the awareness that you always have that option.

If you ever find yourself buried in the deepest darkest night of your soul, that is when you will need to laugh the most because that is a time for immediate action, not complaints or finger pointing. It’s not about making fun of anybody or anything, being careless or insensitive. It’s about staying sane, functional and positive, emotionally ready for what’s coming next. It’s not because you care less, but because you care more.

Choosing to remain positive and be comfortable with your imperfections and the challenges in your life does not mean you have to be complacent about them. You should not. Laughing about them is a sign of maturity. Accepting and embracing our frailty and shortcomings as human beings opens the door to compassion.

In the words of Bernie DeKoven, “Playing and laughing together, especially when we play and laugh in public, because we choose to, just because, is a profound, and, oddly enough, political act. Political, because when we play or dance or just laugh in public, people think there’s something wrong with us. It’s rude, they think, childish, a disturbance of the peace. Normally, they’d be right. Except now. Now, the peace has been deeply disturbed – everywhere, globally. And what those grown-ups are doing, playing, dancing, laughing in public is not an act of childish discourtesy, but a declaration of freedom, a demonstration that we are not terrorized, that terror has not won, that we refuse to let fear, anger, guilt or resentment win and rule our lives.

Choosing to laugh with life and others (not at them) is a practice that will teach you to first see what works before what doesn’t work. Start your laughter journey now!

Finding meaning in difficult times (Interview with Dr. Viktor Frankl)

Here is an interview with Dr. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor who spent five months as a slave laborer in Auschwitz. Dr. Frankl explains the importance of meaning in life. Despair, he says, is suffering without meaning.

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How important is laughter for spiritual wellness in your opinion? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below!