Posted by on Jan 4, 2013 in emotions, mind-body therapy | 0 comments

“Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?”

Truly, is there anything better than a deep, uncontrollable, tear streaming down your face, belly aching laugh?

However, besides the sheer joy that laughter brings, did you know that it also lowers stress and benefits the heart and boosts immunity? Laughter reduces tension and anxiety, raises self esteem, hope, energy, enhances memory and creativity, improves interpersonal interactions, builds unity and solidarity. Laughter is essential to happiness and overall wellbeing. Laughter positively affects our muscles, our breathing, our hormones and our nervous systems. In fact, at its core, laughter incorporates the entire mind-body construct. Moreover, although laughter is contagious, it has few side effects.

Yet, does simulated laughter yield the same benefits?

In case you are wondering what I’m referring to, simulated laughter is the foundation of laughter yoga, a worldwide movement that focuses on laughter exercises, including:

  • Pantomime followed by laughter
  • Physical greetings followed by laughter
  • Dancing and singing (and laughing exercises)
  • Laughing alone
  • Laughing meditations

Simulated laughter works in large groups, in pairs and can be playful or exaggerated. The theory underlying simulated laughter is that while the mind can distinguish between spontaneous and simulated laughter, the body cannot. Importantly, research bears this out, and a number of scientifically controlled studies have shown that simulated laughter can lead to reductions in blood pressure, improvements in stress hormone levels, positively affect depression and insomnia and even improve anxiety in chronic pain patients. Regular simulated laughter sessions can be used as effective coping strategies and benefit workplace morale. Even smiling can yield positive effect.

Can anyone do it? Well, clearly, anyone can laugh. But simulated laughter is a technique that is most effective when it’s learned, practiced and developed. Not surprisingly, laughter yoga clubs have popped up across the nation, touting messages of helping people gain a happiness advantage. And data provide sufficient evidence that ‘laughter has positive, quantifiable physiological and psychological effects on certain aspects of health.”

Make em laugh? You bet:
Ah ha ha ha ha ha há
Ah ha ha ha ha ha 
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha 
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 
Make ‘em laugh, ah ah!
Make ‘em laugh, ah ah!
Make ‘em laugh, ah ah!

Make ‘em laugh 
Make ‘em laugh 
Make ‘em laugh!

-Donald O’Connor, Singin’ in the Rain

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