Laughter and its benefits
ONE SUNDAY evening while enjoying my idli-dosa with friends, sounds of giggles and laughter drifted from the next table, a family with two teenage daughters - with a bad case of the giggles. The exasperated father unable to contain their laughter, finally said, ?That?s enough laughing for the weekend, Nandita.?india Updated: Oct 24, 2006 19:10 IST
ONE SUNDAY evening while enjoying my idli-dosa with friends, sounds of giggles and laughter drifted from the next table, a family with two teenage daughters - with a bad case of the giggles. The exasperated father unable to contain their laughter, finally said, “That’s enough laughing for the weekend, Nandita.”
While I turned away so he wouldn’t see my grin, Nandita tried to talk her father into letting her start on Monday’s quota of laughter because she would be busy at school and would not be able to laugh as much. The absurdity of being given a ration of laughter reminded me of the way most of us have been raised. Laughter had largely been repressed, giggling and laughing were definitely frowned upon at school and other childhood places.
RATHER THAN waiting for external events to determine our happiness, we can find it deep inside ourselves. Perhaps we think we have to be relaxed and calm to be happy. This is not the case; happiness can exist for no reason.
The more we practice smiling, laughing and enjoying ourselves for no reason, the more we will discover that we already have what we seek. Many of us know that laughter is good for us, but we might feel that we have nothing to laugh about; we may feel more like crying.
If you are in the midst of a difficult time in your life, commit an equal amount of time to allow your sadness to exist. The balanced awareness and expression of both of these energies will bring you to a deeper harmony and peace within yourself.
1Stimulates physical healing.
2Enhances our creativity.
3Rejuvenating and regenerating.
4Good for relationships.
5Opens the heart.
6Gives us a glimpse of freedom from the mind.
The therapeutic use of laughter - to relieve stress, combat disease and strengthen the immune system - no longer raises eyebrows in the medical world. That humour is healthy and that a hearty laugh can make a person feel much better has gained medical respectability in the last two decades.
We still know very little about what happens in the brain when we laugh, but there’s a fair amount of evidence to suggest that laughter has wide-ranging effects on us psychologically and physiologically. The most obvious effect is on our mood.
It is also known to keep away negative emotions like anxiety and depression, which tend to weaken the immune system. It relieves stress, improves lung capacity and oxygen levels in the blood and releases endorphins. It is also known to help with insomnia, migraines, allergies, and ulcers.
WHEN YOU wake up in the morning, stretch your body-every muscle, cell and fiber - like a cat. After a few moments, start laughing. Just start. Initially, you may have to force it a little, saying ‘Ha, Ha, Ha,’ or ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ to get the laughter energy moving.
Soon, a spontaneous laughter will arise at the sound of your attempts at laughing. Try it for five minutes. Laugh for no reason at all - for the sake of laughing. Try it again for five minutes just before you go to sleep. Try it in the bathroom or while driving your scooter or car in traffic.
Ha, Ha, Ha. Even to say those words out loud will start a transformation in your energy, in your mood. After a little while, laughter will come to you naturally and your body will get used to it and will start to expect it.
Laughter is one of the easiest ways to free yourself from the mind’s constant thought process and find inner peace. It will make you more alive, more healthy, more creative and more silent. Simply relax into the enjoyment. You will discover in yourself a tremendous natural talent for rejoicing in life. You may even laugh your way to enlightenment. Yes, it’s that good. Remember to laugh a lot, every day.
( The author is a psychologist and a professor of psychology and social work at BSSS. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
First Published: Oct 24, 2006 19:10 IST