Monday, March 22, 2010
Laughing when it isn't funny
As a Laughter Yoga leader I am often presented with the question of “what if it just isn’t funny?” There are many times in our lives when nothing is funny. Everything thing has turned upside down, we experience grief, are bogged down with life circumstances, are sick or just simply forget to have a moment of enjoyment. It’s easy enough for this to happen to all of us. It’s called LIFE.
I have great news for those of you that suddenly forget to find a moment in your life to laugh. You don’t have to find anything funny to enjoy a hearty laugh. That’s right. You can still laugh for no reason. Why do this you ask? By allowing yourself a chance to experience laughter in the face of everything that life offers you, you allow yourself an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and those around you. You allow yourself a break or a mini vacation rather from whatever challenges you may be facing at the moment.
How is this possible? Scientific research has found that the body does not know the difference between real and fake laughter. Fake it! I have many times found myself doing this. Sometimes the whole session is fake, but often I am able to start genuine laughter after faking it because I simply get tickled at myself.
Sometimes it is just too hard to try and yes, there have been times that I faked it when I felt terrible and even started to cry. That’s ok too. Keep trying and you can learn to get a good laugh in. Find someone willing to laugh with you or watch funny videos. YouTube has many things to choose from for a quick fix to help you get started. You may need to practice a bit and that’s fine. Lock yourself in the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and start fake laughing. Usually just the thought of someone accidently hearing me is enough for me to get giggling. Remember to take a basic breath in through the nose and out through the mouth during the rest periods of laughing to ensure proper oxygenation.
So, back to the whole idea that the body doesn’t know the difference between real and fake laughter, your amazing body will still produce all the movements in a fake laugh that it will in a real laugh. These abdominal movements cause a massage of the internal organs and your heart rate will still rise with the activity. Your body will also still release the same hormones during fake laughter as well. Some of these include endorphins which aid in pain management and dopamine, the feel good chemical.
Stress relief and relaxation also occur after a good laughing session. Allow yourself the opportunity to reap these health benefits and more by really trying to get in a laugh when you know that you need it, especially when you are to a point that it seems impossible to even try. This is probably when you need laughter the most. So go ahead and grab a mirror and find a special spot to let yourself loose. Nothing has to be funny at all. Just practice and you will discover the powerful ability your body has to cope, rejuvenate and enliven itself.