Feeling down? Positive Psychology Coach Lesley Lyle believes that laughter holds the key to happiness. Usually, we laugh because we’re happy, but the latest scientific research suggest that through the act of laughing, we can make ourselves happy.
‘Yesterday was not a good day. I know really, days are neither good or bad, it’s just our perception, but that’s how it felt. I had several unpleasant tasks to do, emails to write and I started the day ‘out of sorts’.
Luckily I recognized the warning signs that I could, if not careful, talk myself into having a rotten day with mood to match. So I did what any sensible person would do; I enlisted the help of a good friend who always makes me feel better. That friend was laughter.
The latest scientific research suggests that when we laugh we change our brain chemistry and we feel better. The wonderful news, if you didn’t already know, is that our body doesn’t differentiate between that joyful, spontaneous laughter that you share with friends when you are enjoying yourself, and laughter done as a simple exercise. You can laugh even when you feel miserable and if you persist you will significantly improve your mood.
I have been practicing laughter as an exercise for several years and I have the advantage of knowing, without doubt, that this works. But the great thing about Laughter Yoga is anyone can do it and improve their day. You may not end up feeling euphoric but you will certainly feel better than when you started.
Try these 6 simple exercises to positively improve your mood. You might feel a bit awkward at first but if you are on your own it doesn’t really matter does it? And once you get your ‘happy chemicals’ going you might no longer care. Try to achieve at least 3 minutes of laughter, loud and hearty laughter is the most effective. You can repeat them more often if you wish.
6 ways to improve your day with laughter
1. Begin by taking a laughter shower or bath. Experiment with different laughter sounds as you wash each part of your body. Pretend that you are extremely ticklish if it helps.
2. Decide that you will laugh every time you make a mistake – dropping something, forgetting something, bumping into something. You may be surprised how much laughter this generates over the course of a day!
3. If you have to drive, laugh every time you stop at traffic lights and don’t stop until they turn green. If they are green when you get to them, shout ‘YES!’ as you go through them and laugh in celebration. The thought of this may make you feel embarrassed but the actual experience is so fun and uplifting that you won’t care! If you have children in the car, get them to join in. Children are the laughter experts of the world.
4. Quietly sing the words ho, ho, ha, ha, hee, hee to a tune you know and do this whenever you do any physical task, i.e. go to the bathroom, walk out to the car, make a cup of tea. With practice this can become a useful unconscious habit.
5. If you are lucky enough to have a ‘laughter friend’ (someone to ring and laugh with without needing to talk) ring them at least twice during the day. If not, then use your mobile phone and pretend to be talking to someone who is telling you a really funny story. Phrases like ‘he did WHAT?!’ , ‘I can’t believe it!’, may prompt more laughter. This exercise can be done walking through the office, down the street or at home. Dare yourself to try it on public transport and watch the effect your laughter has on others – you might get some pretty funny reactions!
6. Use laughter as a response to questions like ‘have you finished that yet?’, ‘Is dinner ready?’, ‘Have you had a good day?’ Or if you are on your own, dance for the duration of one song on the radio whilst laughing.
If you do these 6 simple exercises you will have experienced a minimum of 18 minutes of laughter throughout your day, on a day when you may not normally have laughed once. You don’t need to worry about the mismatch between your frame of mind and your action, nature will do the rest and you might just improve the day for other people too.
So the next time you’re feeling a bit low give laughter a try and see if it becomes your best friend too ☺’
Lesley Lyle has made laughter her business, blending the discipline of laughter yoga with exercises you can use every day. Arming you with the ability to see the funny-side to every situation, Lesley’s approach will help you face life with a smile! Discover more about her unique approach atwww.laughterbusiness.com
Laugh Your Way to Happiness by Lesley Lyle
256 pages • Paperback • £8.99
The first Canada Laughter Yoga Conference held in Toronto, Ontario, has been substantially approved of from the responses of participants. The weekend of November 9th and 10th firmly established the presence of Laughter Yoga International in Canada with the participation of founders Dr. Madan and Madhuri Kataria presenting a keynote address on Saturday evening, followed by an advanced training seminar on the Sunday morning.
Linda Leclerc – Master Trainer for Laughter Yoga International in Canada provided full support in contributing to the success of the weekend in addition to the outstanding efforts from everyone involved in arranging and organising the event.
Registrants arrived from many of the provinces of Canada, USA and United Kingdom and as far away as Dubai (U.A.E.).
A superb lineup of presenters shared their knowledge, skill and experience. Live music and dancing provided a party atmosphere before the close of the first day which culminated in a resonant gong meditation given by Sophie Terrasse.
Sunday afternoon provided space for those who wished to speak to the assembly and concluded with comments and recommendations for ways to further enhance the association of Laughter Clubs, Laughter Leaders and Teachers within the growing network of practitioners of Laughter Yoga.
A special announcement from Dr. Kataria stated Canada Laughter Yoga Conference 2014 will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Preparations will begin shortly.
The closing ceremony brought everyone together for laughter blessings and cheer before parting and farewells, although the fun was far from being over.
Albert Nerenberg – creator of the hit movie Laughology, provided the ultimate finale in co-ordinating a coinciding presentation: ‘The Great Canadian Laughing Championships’
with Dr. Madan Kataria opening the proceedings in the culmination of a series of laughing contests held in various regions to find the most outstanding laugher in Canada. Toronto Laughter Yoga Teacher, Gary Johnston took the title under challenging conditions in a field of highly motivated contestants. Very good, very good, yayyy….
A compilation of footage and camera stills combined with a fuller report on the conference will be available in the near future.
photo credit: Frank Pasquill (Toronto).
The British star is famous for her pout and previously claimed the serious fashion industry “stole” her smile.
However, husband David recently shared a snap of the brunette laughing and Victoria also tweeted a picture of herself grinning broadly while posing in the Hollywood Hills.
“She’s dealt with people thinking she’s miserable for so long, but that’s not her. She’s using her time in LA to kick-start an action plan that’ll soften her image,” an insider revealed to British magazine Look.
“As well as photoshoots where she’s experimented with different looks, she also tried laughter therapy. It’s about smiling spontaneously, without letting the camera make you feel self-conscious.
“Tom Cruise is the master of it, and Victoria has always said she’d kill for a dazzling smile like his. Behind closed doors, she’s really funny, light-hearted and finds practical jokes hilarious, so she feels it’s about time people got to see that side of her.”
Victoria and David are currently living in their native Britain with their kids Cruz, Brooklyn, Romeo and Harper.
Prior to that they were based in Los Angeles and friends say visiting the US again has done Victoria the world of good.
“She’s practising the [laughter therapy] techniques daily and she’s never felt better,” the insider smiled.
“It’s precious family time. They’ve been hiking, surfing in Malibu and the boys have even been teaching Victoria to skateboard. She’s never been happier and she feels it’s time people got to share it with her.”
It seems Victoria’s boys are a constant source of entertainment for the star.
The style icon recently took to Twitter to share a snap of Romeo mocked up to look like designer Karl Lagerfeld, with white hair and dark shades.
“I can’t stop laughing right now, genius!” the fashionista captioned the picture.
© Cover Media
Work-place stress is no laughing matter. Laughter therapist Jo-Dee Walmsley tells Kipp about the benefits of laughter yoga at the workplace.
April 4, 2013 2:15 by Eva Fernandes
I am standing in a sparse studio, hands deep into my pockets. I feel awkward. Laughter therapist Jo-Dee Walmsley has just instructed the fifteen others standing around me, on the science behind and the benefits of laughter yoga. We have now been assigned our first assignment: walk around the room, attempt to shake hands with each other and just before we touch hands we have to pull away and laugh. There is just one rule: at all points you must make eye contact.
If anyone else is feeling the kind of reservation I am, they don’t show it. Following the crackling belly-rippling laughter Walmsley is bubbling with, my fellow laughter yogis walk around hysterically laughing to some kind of in-joke I am not privy to. I decide to join in. Initially a confused would-be genuine gruff whimper emerges from me, but by the end of the one hour of session, I am on the floor, wiping the tears away from my eyes and catching my sides.
Laughter yoga is an 18 year-old practice first popularised by Indian physician Dr.Madan Kataria. Since he started the first laughter club in Mumbai in 1995, more than 6,000 social laughter clubs have sprung up around the world. And now it has come to the offices in Dubai.
Trained by Dr.Kataria himself, Jo-Dee Walmsley is hoping to bring the powers of laughter into the workplace. She offers corporate wellness workshops and team building exercises through her recently set-up venture called Simply Laugher.
“When people laugh together they work well with each other. It was mentioned in Forbes that people are choosing a happier workplace over better salaries and titles. What happens is when you are happier at work, you work better, you are more productive, you are more creative and you get on better,” said Walmsley.
“There are so many people who are bunking work all the time and this makes them go to work and they are happy to come to work. This is a great thing for team building,” she added.
Through strategically designed exercises, Walmsley teaches her students to learn to laugh at a bad result. From walking around the room laughing at an imaginary credit card bill, using gibberish to explain your story of heart-break or failure, these exercises are easy to integrate into real-life situations. My personal favourite is the “No Money” pose which involves turning out your pockets, gazing down at it and just shaking it off with a laugh.
Studies have shown laughter (even if it is fake laughter) releases endorphins and reduces stress levels—something most employees are in need of. It is all about retraining your brain to look at a difficult situation in a positive way.
“This is my third class. My attitude towards a few things in my work has changed dramatically which my colleagues have noticed the difference. I have just moved to Dubai, so there is additional stress. At work also there are a few things which are not stable from the company’s point of view-so changing is happening too suddenly and I think laughter is the only thing which is giving me a new stance looking at the issues” said Priyanka Pawar, 29, project manager.
While it is recommended do practice laughter yoga for 20 minutes thrice a week to really feel the benefits, by the end of the class I am in a significantly better mood than I was when I went in.
“I felt happy, I felt light. It is a platform to let go-to be free, to let go of all the tension and the stress. You never get to do this at home or at work, this is a safe place. The first time I did it, it was a bit awkward-but today is my second time and so I feel it is much better” said Kitoro Siraba Constance, 24, research consultant.
Will laughter yoga catch on in the board rooms of the UAE? It remains to be seen—but given the small following Walmsley has developed since she set up shop in the Emirates a few months ago, the future looks promising.
“Laughter, yoga-I couldn’t quite make out what the relationship would be like between the two-but the outcome is superb. When I was younger, I used to laugh a lot-but then later on, the corporate life tends to be a bit difficult” said Romain Saada, a 34-year-old entrepreneur.
He added: “I think I laughed more today than I have in a couple of years
Here are two very interesting accounts of how Laughter Yoga and laughter therapy helped two patients go through cataract and Lasik eye surgeries with a positive and confident attitude. Doing laughter just before the surgery helped to reduce any fear and created a light and reassuring atmosphere in the operating room.
Linda: Just before I left home the day of my surgery, I put a clown red nose in her bag. Little did I know that I would be allowed to take my camera into the operating room. The staff did not know that I had the red nose hidden in my hand. There was a lot of laughing in the OR just before the surgery began. Any fear I may have had when I faced cataract surgery was quickly lost with the light but reassuring atmosphere brought by the medical staff. A quick and easy recovery was a bonus!
Janine Bronson: I had a similar experience when getting Lasik eye surgery on both eyes at the same day a ten minute operation, and could see immediately thereafter (was legally blind without high-prescription corrective lenses, prior to that) I believe that in some way laughter acts like a pain-number/pain-eliminator or substitute to anesthesia (I had no injection) but was really laughing and joking and the eye surgeon said he had spoken to all of the other ophthalmologists that were working in the clinic and they all agreed that they never had a patient who had recovered so quickly and healed as fast and am sure that laughter played a major part in the process (besides myopic vision (involving the deviation where light is actually reflected on which spot away from the retina from where it was supposed to have been focused) and also had embolism (wandering eye/lack of binocular focus) and astigmatism (mis-shapen pupils) and all three conditions were corrected at once!!!
Want to decrease stress, improve your health and even increase your social interaction among colleagues? Then laugh more at work. Yep, that’s right. Laughter isn’t just for comedy clubs or humorous TV shows. Workplace laughter can help you feel better about your job, increase your productivity and even promote stronger relationships. Here’s how to laugh your way to loving your job…
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An international research team at Oxford University found that when people laugh hard, the kind that leaves them almost physically exhausted with tears in their eyes, the human body triggers the release of endorphins that help reduce the feeling of pain and promote feelings of general well being. So the next time the project team you’re leading hits what feels like an insurmountable obstacle, find something funny about the situation and then laugh your way to figuring out a creative solution.
Laughter and a sense of humor may also protect against heart attacks by helping prevent heart disease, according to cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The study “found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.”
Because laughter has been found to lower the level of several stress hormones in the blood, it can also promote a more positive and hopeful attitude. States Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, and the founder of Laughter Yoga, “It is less likely for a person to succumb to stress and feelings of depression and helplessness, if one is able to laugh away the[ir] troubles.”
Laughter may also serve to socially unite people. Robert R. Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, found that “we’re thirty times more likely to laugh when we’re with other people than when we’re alone. People who laugh a lot may just have a strong connection to the people around them.”
4 Ways to Add More Laughter to Your Workday
#1 Learn to take yourself less seriously. One way to laugh more at work is to “find ways to take ourselves less seriously”, recommends Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
I learned this lesson myself back when I was the only female on the service management team for a defibrillator manufacturer. We were holding an off-site sales training meeting and the group had chosen to wear casual clothes (khaki pants and golf shirts) to make the training more comfortable. Before flying to the meeting location, I laundered several pairs of my khaki pants and packed quickly.
While I was kicking off the training meeting at the front of the room I noticed several people staring at my knees. One person raised their hand and said, “Sorry to interrupt Lisa, but what’s that bulge in your left leg?” When I looked down, he was right. There was a strange bulge just below my left knee. I felt my leg, reached into my left pant leg and pulled out – two fabric softener sheets that were stuck together. I started laughing so hard I almost couldn’t stop. With tears in my eyes I said, “Well thank heavens. I was worried I was actually going to pull out a pair of my underwear, not fabric softener sheets.” That’s when everyone else in the room broke out into laughter and I learned another good lesson…
#2 Make it OK for others to laugh at work. By laughing at myself, I made it OK for everyone in the room to laugh. In retrospect, I had been trying so hard to be professional because I was the only female that I had failed to let my true personality shine through. Being able to laugh at myself in front of others and making it OK for them to laugh in a work situation eased the tension of the training session and helped bring me closer together with my colleagues. During lunch that day we had even more laughter as everyone began sharing their most embarrassing work moments.
#3 Find humor in difficult or stressful situations. Emily C. learned the importance in finding humor during stressful career situations and shared this funny story: “While I was walking out to my car after the interview for the job I have now, I looked down and noticed the underwire from my bra had somehow worked its way out and was poking up from the top of my shirt. I was mortified. Luckily, it was all women interviewing me.”
#4 Attend a Laughter Yoga Club. Laughter Yoga is gaining in popularity in companies and colleges throughout the world. It combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing and was launched back in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria in Mumbai, India. According to Dr. Kataria, Laughter Yoga “is a powerful force for improving staff performance at the workplace” by reducing stress. Laughter Yoga Clubs are free for everyone and run by volunteers trained as Laughter Yoga Teachers and Laughter Yoga Leaders.
Bottom Line: Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Are you and your colleagues spending enough time laughing during the workday? According to one study, “adults tend to laugh only 15 times per day” whereas “healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day.” Maybe the real secret to loving your job is actually through laughter.
So…a manager walks into a staff meeting carrying a rubber chicken and says…
~ Lisa Quast