As a college professor, I was tutoring a student of mine in writing a final paper. She chose the title The Role of Laughter in Society, where she focused mainly on the healing aspects. I’ve learned that deliberate laughter is applied in many therapeutical settings. Then what is laughter therapy? It’s one of the most effective ways to mobilize positive energies in a depressed or ill person, because laughter is highly catching; it’s the only infection you want.
Laughter is natural and easy
Did you know the following incredibel fact? In order to frown with a grumpy face, one has to flex, believe it or not, 43 muscles. For the opposite, a friendly and relaxed look, one only needs 17. Thus, the more relaxed and balanced you are, the less tension manifests in your body and thus in the face. That’s exactly what you see in a loved and loving child, it has eyes wide open with a happy, curious smile.
Laughter is the best medicine
Here are the main results of medical research concerning the physiological effects of laughter:
- It boosts the production of natural killer cells against pathogenic germs.
- It enhances the resorption of oxygen in the lungs.
- It improves and stabilises blood circulation.
Laughter is terribly catching
In between writing this post, it just happened that I went to rehearse at an amateur theatre. There in a decisive scene, together with another man, I had to suddenly laugh very hard. As a consequence, the depressed mood of the previous scene was turned around quickly and the rest of the evening was filled with easy going laughter. It was so catching, that the director couldn’t go back to the serious and grave mood, even if he wanted to. What a synchronicity!
Laughter can be trained
Finally, because of all the above reasons, laughter can be trained and also applied in therapy. The first thing you do is to adapt with your body all the specific traits that go along with a happy and joyful feeling. Psychologists call this method Embodiment. There’s an easy way to start: take a pencil and hold it between your teeth. You might also want to look into a mirror. Now, it’s almost impossible to think of something negative. So why don’t you start every day with a laughter?
This astonishing fact can also be used in a group. My student for example participated in laughter yoga training. In the beginning she was very reserved and didn’t believe artificial laughter could be of any worth. After her experiment, she was totally astonished how heartfelt and authentic this laughter was.
What’s your take on that? You may watch the short video introduction into laughter yoga, as a possible answer to the guiding question: what is laughter therapy. Somehow or other, smile your stress away!
I’d be happy to hear your stories about laughter below in the comments!