We all do it at one time or another, sometimes alone but usually when we’re with others. Animals do it. Babies do it. Do WHAT, you say? Why, laugh, of course. Until recently I hadn’t given the act of laughter a second thought. It either happened or it didn’t. I’ve been down in the dumps lately for one reason or another. I recently received an email with a link to an article on laughter and just blindly clicked through. It turned out to be a documentary video by filmmaker Albert Nerenberg about Laughology.
About WHAT? Laughology? I had never heard of it either. Neuroscientists, psychologists, medical doctors, and just people in general have taken an interest in laughter, including laughter as medicine. There are even Laughter Yoga groups. I Googled laughter yoga and over 2,000,000 links appeared. It seems it’s a form of Yoga employing self-triggered laughter. There’s even a Laughter Yoga group close to me. I bet there’s one close to you. It’s international! And why not? Laughter is a universal language. Where does laughter come from, how does it originate? Is it from the heart or the head? I could write a book. Oh, wait, the experts have already done that! So, I’ll just blog a little on the subject.
Babies begin to laugh by about the age of 2-3 months. They’re not taught. I mean, really, have you ever seen anyone stand over their infant and say, now, here’s how you laugh. Follow my instructions. Do as I do. I didn’t think so. In fact, studies have been done that show that blind babies, deaf babies, and babies who are both deaf and blind, laugh on their own at about the same time as babies without these impediments. Watch little children. They seem to laugh at almost anything and everything. I once read that children laugh on average about 400 times a day. By the time we’re adults, we’re lucky if we’re laughing 4 times a week.
The timing of this couldn’t have been better for me. As studies have shown, and through my own personal experience, people are stressed to the extreme. Stress kills laughter. If you’re stressed, can you deny the truth of that statement? And, if you’re not stressed, please write and let me know how you’ve managed to be the only one avoiding it. How long has it been since you actually and honestly laughed out loud. Oh, sure, we occasionally laugh with our friends or over a funny movie scene. But I mean when was the last time you experienced an honest-to-goodness roll-on-the-floor belly laugh with tears running down your face. Can you even remember? Do you really care if it’s not dignified? Should one care? Stress destroys laughter and promotes heart disease. Now, that’s not anything to laugh about.
Dr. Madan Kataria, known as the Laugh Doctor, said “When you laugh, you change, and when you change, the whole world changes”. It’s true there are times when we must be serious. But being too serious is actually a kind of disorder. Just look around you. People walking around with their cell phones plastered to their ears or texting like mad. No breaks from the stress of the job or life’s responsibilities. We’re wired 24/7. Just listening to the media reports can set your teeth on edge. It’s just not healthy. I’m no medical expert but I know when something is not good for me. And I know when something is good for me. And laughter is definitely a good thing.
I plan to make a very conscious effort to bring laughter back into my life on a daily basis. Along with laughter comes joy and the bonding with friends. I shouldn’t even need to mention the positive health aspects. Laughter is contagious. Just take a few minutes and watch the following YouTube video of Mr. Doug Collins, said to have the most contagious laugh in the world:
I watched and was laughing along with him so hard I had tears. It was wonderful! If you were able to sit through that and not laugh out loud, then I suggest you seek help! There is so much more that can be said about laughter. I am amazed at how much interesting material there is not to mention personal opinion and experience. This probably won’t be the last post I have on this subject! Laughter is — or should be — a major part of our lives. Make it so.
Please share your thoughts and comments below.