“We don’t laugh because we are happy; we become happy if we laugh,” Dr. Madan Kataria
Children laugh much more than adults – about 10 to 20 times more; between 150 and 300 times a day, whilst adults laugh between 4 and 15 times a day. Sadly, some adults can pass days without laughing at all.
This is tragic when you consider the immense physical, emotional and mental benefits of laughter. Laughter reduces stress hormones and increases health-enhancing hormones. It reeinforces the immune system, improves blood circulation. It also makes us more optimistic and engaged.
Laughter gives us a feeling of wellbeing as it frees endorphines into the body. These hormones have analgesic properties and reduce the production of adrenaline and cortisol generated by stress. It acts on pain as it improves oxigenation of the brain and reduces muscular tension; and increases the production of catecolamines – neurotransmitters with anti-depressive properties which act like natural morphine.
A sense of humour helps us practice flexible perception which in turn makes us more resourceful problem-solvers.
So, why do adults laugh less than children? Children spend far more time in the present moment; consequently, they experience their lives more directly through their senses. We adults are seduced by our rational minds, that is to say, our ideas, models and beliefs about reality.
Children do not take themselves so seriously. As adults we feel that before we can laugh, something must be “worthy” of our laughter. We lose our playfulness and with it our ability to spontaneously “laugh for no reason”.
One of the things we practice in our retreats is “Laughter Yoga” which I learnt from Dr. Madan Kataria in Mumbai in 2002. Laughter Yoga or “Laugh without Reason” is a method that consists of learning to laugh on purpose thanks to a series of exercises and games. Madan Kataria is a GP doctor who developed the technique of laughter yoga, inspired by the cientific publications in which were proven the amazing benefits generated by laughter in patients. Madan Kataria has started up laughter clubs all round India, promoting laughter in patients as part of his therapy with them. Today there are thousands of such clubs in 100 countries. This is marvellous!
Bring laughter into your life. Learn to laugh at yourself. Laugh with others. For example, you can listen to comedians that make you laugh. Laughing is totally free, contagious and one of the best ways that exist to make you feel good with yourself and others. It is one of the best medicines available to generate well-being and contribute to increase our feeling of happiness.
Make laughter part of your every day.