I recently saw a CNN report on happiness. Part of the show focused on Laughter Yoga, and the benefits of laughter in creating happiness. The group in Laguna Beach CA is just one of many such laugher groups that gets together and just laughs. Some groups get together to dance or drum, these groups gather to have a good time by laughing directly.
The groups were started in Mumbai India by Dr. Madan Kataria. He is a physician and was interested in taking advantage of the health benefits of laughter such as reducing stress and strengthening the immune system. He is interviewed in this article at wordsmith.com
Why is laughter beneficial emotionally? Well if your goal is to be happy, why not jump into the feeling? Don’t waste time figuring out how to be happy, just do it. You might be wondering what these people are laughing about, but that isn’t important. You don’t actually need anything to laugh about to get started. Just like you don’t need music to dance or sing. What is interesting is that if you start laughing things start to become funny. Your perspective shifts to see things in a funny way. In this way you use the action of laughter to shift your mind.
Of course if your rational mind wants to know some of the benefits consider these. When you are laughing you are not thinking. By not thinking you are suspending all judgments, victimisation’s, opinions and thoughts that lead to unhappiness. You are effectively engaging a different part of your consciousness in the mind. You are stimulating the mind and body in a way that creates joy instead of a depressing story that creates depression. As you become more aware you might notice that when you are laughing your mind is often quiet. It is a natural state of the mind to be quiet and filled with joy. Of course if you always keep the rational mind in charge you probably won’t laugh or smile much because happiness and joy is just not rational. It is a feeling not a thinking.
I did laughing meditation practice for a while myself years ago. It was suggested by a very wise woman who I would visit. We would begin her class with 5 minutes of laughter meditation for absolutely no reason other than it feeling good. It was a little odd at first, but then you notice that you feel great doing it. And when everyone is in the room laughing with you it is very contagious and becomes real laughter. After you practice being happy with laughter for no reason you may eventually discover that you don’t need a reason to be happy. You can be happy independent of logical rationalizations.
For those that are more academic about this stuff here is an excerpt on just part of the psychological benefits of laughter. It is from a very long article at How Stuff Works.com,
The psychological benefits of humor are quite amazing, according to doctors and nurses who are members of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor. People often store negative emotions, such as anger, sadness and fear, rather than expressing them. Laughter provides a way for these emotions to be harmlessly released. Laughter is cathartic. That’s why some people who are upset or stressed out go to a funny movie or a comedy club, so they can laugh the negative emotions away (these negative emotions, when held inside, can cause biochemical changes that can affect our bodies).
Increasingly, mental health professionals are suggesting “laughter therapy,” which teaches people how to laugh — openly — at things that aren’t usually funny and to cope in difficult situations by using humor. Following the lead of real-life funny-doc Patch Adams (portrayed by Robin Williams in a movie by the same name), doctors and psychiatrists are becoming more aware of the therapeutic benefits of laughter and humor. This is due, in part, to the growing body of humor and laughter scholarship (500 academicians from different disciplines belong to the International Society for Humor Studies).
If you want to find a Laughter Club and check it out the funny business for your self, there are over 5,000 clubs world wide.
Being happy is like dancing. To get good at it you have to practice. Direct laughter is a great practice to create happiness in your life because it takes you directly to the feeling experience of joy physically and emotionally.