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.
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
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
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 16:49
The healing power of laughter is something that laughter coach Allison Marcotte is very familiar with. Having gone through some tough times of her own in recent years, including the heartbreaking deaths of loved ones, she is well-aware of its ability to help people cope with life’s tragedies and absurdities.
“If I hadn’t had the laughter, I’d probably be at the mental health ward,” Marcotte said, as she went on to describe her changing personality over the years.
“I was a very serious person,” she recalled. “I would laugh when all the work was done. So I didn’t laugh a lot, and then about four or five years ago when I got introduced to Laughter Yoga, it changed my life.
Mentally, laughing elevates mood, improves brain functioning and communication skills, facilitates learning, increases creativity and rapport with others and replaces negative emotions with positive ones.
Physically, it reduces stress and anger, increases energy and endorphin levels, protects the heart, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, improves blood circulation, digestion and respiration, relaxes the muscles and decreases anxiety.
“They say 10 minutes of laughter is like 30 minutes on a rowing machine,” Marcotte noted. “I always say to people, ‘What would you rather do, laugh or work out?’”
“It changed my life for the better, and so that’s kind of why I’m here every Thursday night, regardless of whether there’s one or 21 of us — because to me, if I can help make one person’s life a little bit better, then I’ve served my purpose.”
Full article can be read here http://www.paherald.sk.ca/Local/News/2012-12-27/article-3147755/Laughter-yoga-more-about-laughs-than-yoga/1