The Power of Laughter: A Mindfulness Approach to Health and Happiness

Q: Why do mindfulness students love going to airports?
A: Because they might get a free body scan!

Laughter is a universal language that has the ability to uplift us, connect us with others, and infuse our day with positivity. From a mental health perspective, laughter serves as a balm, a restorative force that reduces stress, anxiety, and depression while boosting our mood and outlook on life. As the great philosopher Charlie Chaplin once said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted."

The Therapeutic Power of Laughter

Laughter isn't just good for the soul, it's beneficial to the body too. When we laugh, it triggers a physical and emotional change within us. Endorphins, our body's natural feel-good chemicals, are released, leading to an immediate sense of well-being and temporary pain relief. Simultaneously, laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, ensuring a feeling of relaxation post a good, hearty chuckle.

On a social level, laughter helps build connections. It fosters a sense of unity and increases bonding between individuals. There’s a collective energy that's generated in shared humour that serves to strengthen our relationships. Furthermore, from a mindfulness perspective, laughter brings us into the present moment. The act of laughing naturally, genuinely, requires us to be fully engaged, grounding us in the 'here and now'.

What does the research say?

Research has long been fascinated by the profound impact laughter has on our overall well-being:

Creating a Life Filled with Laughter

Now that we've highlighted the benefits of laughter, the question arises: How do we bring more of it into our lives? Here are some strategies:

 Humour: Look for the humour in everyday situations. Sometimes, life's challenges are best met with a smile. Our perspective has a powerful influence on our experiences, and choosing to see the funny side can alter our perception for the better.

Laughing Buddies: Spend time with people who make you laugh. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or coworker, being around those with a good sense of humour will naturally invite more laughter into your life.

Interactive Games: Board games, card games, or video games that encourage witty banter and competition can often lead to spontaneous bouts of laughter. Games like "Cards Against Humanity" or "Apples to Apples" are designed to evoke humor.

Comedy and Entertainment: Regularly watch comedy movies, shows, or stand-up specials. Read funny books or comics. These forms of entertainment are designed to make you laugh, so make use of them!

Podcasts and Radio Shows: There are countless comedy podcasts and humorous radio shows available that cater to a variety of tastes. Listen during your commute, workouts, or while doing chores.

Attend Comedy Festivals: These festivals showcase a variety of comedic talents, from stand-up comedians and improvisational troupes to comedic plays and films.

Laughter Meditation: Yes, there is such a thing! This practice involves a period of intentional laughter, followed by a period of silent meditation. It's a great way to tap into your child-like nature and reap the benefits of laughter and mindfulness concurrently.

Share Funny Stories: Sharing funny anecdotes or jokes can spread the joy of laughter. It's not just about making people laugh but also about creating a positive, joyful atmosphere.

The beauty of laughter lies in its simplicity and accessibility. We can all tap into its healing, restorative power by creating opportunities for humour and joy. As we nurture our ability to laugh, we also nurture our mental well-being, making life not only bearable in tough times, but also delightful. In essence, laughter is not just a physical reaction, but a holistic approach towards a mindful, healthier, and happier life.