1. Understand

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Salient fact: Laughter Wellness, developed in the late 2000s in the USA by French-American coach and consultant Sebastian Gendry, emerged from his personal quest to recover from burnout.


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Thank you for being interested in Laughter Wellness.

My name is Sebastian Gendry. Before we start, I would like to briefly tell you who I am and where I’m coming from so that you better understand what you can expect from this course.

I am a coach, consultant, and creator of the Laughter Wellness method. I help individuals and teams who are stressed or stuck to smile again and leverage the power of conscious optimism. This is not how I started my career, however.

Twenty years ago…

Twenty years ago, I was a successful but miserable corporate Jedi running my own business with two partners in England. To cut a seven-year story short, I allowed my life to become so incoherent with my core values that I made myself sick in a perfectly healthy environment:

  • I slowly became addicted to stress, which is a different way of saying that I lived in a dark cloud most of the time. (My hair started to turn grey before I was even 30.)
  • Feeling bad did not help my health much, and I suffered from chronic headaches and regular throat and chest infections.
  • My social life was almost non-existent, and I had difficulty developing close relationships. Life was work, work was life, and that was that.

Eventually, it became so bad that I decided I would not die the wealthiest man in my cemetery, so I quit, sold my shares, and moved on.

Healing journey

My healing journey took me on the roads of the world. I became an expert in various forms of bodywork and energy work, and it all helped. But the single most fun, healing, and rewarding thing I did at that time was to sign up for a Laughter Yoga workshop in India.

  • The fake laughter was awkward, but all my aches and pains mysteriously disappeared on day one and did not come back.
  • I experienced a deep connection with other participants that astonished me because we mostly intentionally laughed together and barely spoke.
  • It was as if my heart understood something that my head could not, and I kept experiencing more and more benefits when I got home.

What was going on?

Soon I learned that:

  • Laughter is the #1 enemy of stress and a healthy way to naturally create our daily D.O.S.E. of well-being (by DOSE, I mean dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins – the main hormones of happiness.)
  • Laughter is an effective way to strengthen our immune functions and improve our natural defenses against illness.
  • Laughter is an easy and effective way to build group identity, solidarity, and cohesiveness. As we all know, “people who laugh together stay together.

I was hooked, on fire, and poured my soul into this project.

After laughter, wellness

By 2010 I had flown the equivalent of 25 round-the-world trips facilitating a variety of Laughter Yoga events with thousands of people on six continents and initiating the creation of hundreds of social laughter clubs.

It had been a fun ride but I couldn’t go on any longer. What happened to me is best described by the graph below, wich is known as the Dunning-Krueger effect. At the beginning I knew nothing about laughter but thought I knew it all. I was on top of mount stupid. Five years later I was in the valley of despair, feeling hopeless. I was divorced, depressed (again), and in-debt following the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

This was bad in a very good way because it forced me to reconsider everything I believed about laughter. I sensed that I had the proper tools but was misusing them. Something had to change.

And it did, after a lot of study and introspection, and that’s how the Laughter Wellness method was born.

Laughter Wellness is a powerful systemized delivery system for this laughter knowledge that all can use and benefit from without any social awkwardness or the stigma of silliness. It is filled with laughter, but it’s all about wellness and building conscious optimism in a safe, fun, and connecting way.

My goal in this course is not to persuade you of anything but to make you conscious of what is available. Laughter can be used as a powerful tool, and the good news is that it is built into the human machine, so all have access to it. Use it or ignore it. It will always be there, patiently waiting.



  • My resiliency to stress has gone through the roof, and I am hardly ever sick anymore.
  • My interpersonal skills have dramatically improved, and I have a vibrant emotional life.
  • I no longer laugh to move away from what I don’t want but rather to get closer to what I do want. The shift was subtle, but it changed everything. Life is challenging for everybody, and there is no escaping that. What’s different now is that before things happened to me, and I laughed to forget the pain. Now it all and always happens for me, and I laugh to remind myself of it. What is it I need to learn? What am I resisting letting go of, and why? What can I do now with a positive attitude?

To me, Laughter Wellness…

  • …Is like a box of colored crayons, because it helps me when I feel blue to repaint my life with the colors of my choice.
  • …Is like a mental and emotional housecleaning using only eco-friendly products that I already have.
  • …Is like having fun exercising, but without knowing that I am.
  • …Is like getting a good infusion of type O- blood because it stops all emotional hemorrhages, fills me with energy, and brings life and colors back onto my face when I allow adversity to take these away.
  • …Is like activating an inner magnet that attracts positivity.

My wife has a different perspective. For her,

  • It’s like a cup of coffee in the morning, energizing and uplifting.
  • It’s like a new lipstick, adding a pop of color to the day.
  • It’s like a paintbrush that colors the mood.
  • It’s like a shopping trip for new clothes, empowering and uplifting.
  • It’s like a tonic for the mind and body.

May it be all these for you and those you love, and more!

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I’m often asked by enquiring Laughter Yogis how Laughter Wellness is different from what they know.

To me, this is like comparing Indian English with American English. Both have shared roots, but they’ve developed in different directions.

Here is a brief review of what I mean.

Laughter Yoga

  1. Is an exercise regime that’s “heavy on the laughter and light on the yoga” and promotes conscious laughter.
  2. Follows the Laughter Yoga protocol that is articulated around playfully laughing a lot.
  1. Is built and primarily focused on voluntary, simulated laughter. Leans on having participants do everything big and loud. Tends to be high energy.
  2. Is about having fun no matter what. Advocates for childlike playfulness that the non-initiated often perceive as silliness.
  3. Promotes health, joy, and community with a strong emphasis on happiness and world peace through laughter.
  4. Iconic quote: “Fake it until you make it.”
  5. Is easy to learn and very popular in community laughter clubs.

Here is an 18 minutes presentation of Laughter Yoga by Dr. Madan Kataria, its main advocate:

Laughter Wellness

  1. Is a whole-person well-being workout that promotes conscious positivity. It’s filled with laughter but all about wellness.
  2. Follows the Laughter Wellness 5-step protocol designed to scaffold people’s laughter circuitry and promote the trifecta of happiness: a sense of fullness, feeling anchored in the present, and a sense of freedom.
  3. Considers intentional laughter as a tool to promote personal empowerment, soft skills, emotional intelligence, social integration, and more. Leans on doing everything gently and allows people to participate at their chosen comfort level.
  4. Is about arousing smiling, laughter, pleasant feelings, and positive energies. Advocates for developing a healthy and sustainable adult relationship with our inner child.
  5. Promotes health, joy, and community with a strong emphasis on peace of mind and an inner locus of control.
  6. Iconic quote: “Don’t fake, choose. Don’t force, allow.”
  7. A source of inspiration and ideas for laughter, healing, service, and education professionals. All Laughter Wellness exercises work well in Laughter Yoga, but the opposite is invalid.

12 minutes with Sebastian Gendry, creator of Laughter Wellness:

Here is a more in-depth comparison by a practitioner of both these methods: Ten differences between Laughter Yoga and Laughter Wellness

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