1.8 Healing Laughter Practice

Key takeaway: The recommended duration for a personal healing laughter practice is uncertain. Various medical experts suggest about five minutes daily. However, there’s no consensus on how to achieve this (Read on for ideas!). Many have found healing by participating in a weekly laughter class. Do what is best for you!

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What Is The Recommended Duration For A Healing Laughter Practice?

Nobody knows for sure.

From a medical standpoint, it is commonly recommended to engage in about five minutes of laughter daily. This is just an opinion, however. Should you laugh non-stop for five minutes (when? how?), or is this how long you should laugh in total throughout the day (how often? how?) These questions are yet to be answered. As explained earlier, hundreds of laughter studies may have been done over the past three decades, but the only comparable aspect in all of them is the word “laughter.” There is no consistent definition of what that word means, what exactly was studied, how the laughter that was studied was evoked, nor how long a particular protocol lasted.
From a practical perspective, individuals who take into consideration but do not solely rely on the medical community’s opinion generally agree that some amount of laughter is better than none, so do the best you can at your comfort level even if it’s just intentionally smiling for a few minutes every day.

How You Laugh Greatly Impacts What You Get

Intentional laughter takes longer to yield benefits, but:

  • It’s easier
  • It’s reliable
  • It’s sustainable
  • It’s universal, accessible, and readily available
  • It’s a valid alternative

Laughter clubs typically meet online for 20 minutes to one hour and 30 to 90 minutes when in person.

Spontaneous laughter reigns supreme in its beneficial impact, but:

  • It’s, well, spontaneous, and that makes it random by definition. There is no guarantee it will happen every day.
  • It’s greatly tied to your mood state. The darker the mood, the more unlikely it is that something will make you laugh.
  • It’s always short-lived, with each experience lasting only a few seconds, so you need many individual experiences to add up to even just five minutes.
  • It’s time-consuming. What makes you laugh today won’t make you laugh as much tomorrow and most likely not next week, so you will need new material and time to find something funny.

How Intentional And Spontaneous Laughter Work

Here is a simplification of how intentional and spontaneous laughter work:
How intentional and spontaneous laughter work

How To Incorporate Laughter Into Your Daily Routine

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.
Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar
The insights provided below merely scratch the surface of the vast topic of how to enrich one’s life with laughter and joy. Nevertheless, I believe these initial steps can set you on a meaningful path toward a happier, more fulfilling life.

Humor And Comedy

Humor and comedy was the only way I knew to elicit laughter in my youth. It was rare but it was fun, so as a young man, I dedicated over six months to curating an anthology of what I considered to be the finest jokes ever crafted. I believed this investment of time would ensure a lifetime of laughter for myself. The process was indeed enjoyable, but when it came time to proofread my work, I was taken aback. The jokes that had once brought me such joy now only made me smile. What’s more, I realized that my smiles were mainly derived from the nostalgic memory of my previous hearty laughter rather than the jokes themselves. In time I moved on to a far more reliable way to get my regular dose of laughter, but I still enjoy the purity of spontaneous laughter that good jokes or comedy can trigger.

I encourage you to give it a try. Though the amusement may be fleeting, the moments of laughter can be truly worthwhile!

Find Your Humor Style

Numerous studies have explored diverse humor styles, identifying four primary categories. Find the one that most resonates with you!

  1. Affiliative humor: This style of humor comprises light-hearted jokes that cater to a broader audience, highlighting the amusing aspects of daily life. Comedians like Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, and Brian Regan often use(d) this approach, with their humor fostering camaraderie, joy, and a sense of well-being. If you enjoy jokes about animals or commonplace situations, you likely appreciate affiliative humor.
  2. Aggressive humor: This type of humor is characterized by biting remarks or insults directed at individuals. Comedians such as Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Bill Burr, Ricky Gervais, and Lisa Lampanelli epitomize this style. Aggressive humor can be employed by bullies with the intention of intimidating or causing emotional distress. While some might find this humor amusing, others might laugh to mask their unease.
  3. Self-enhancing humor: The ability to laugh at oneself, often in response to unfortunate circumstances, falls under self-enhancing humor. This style involves finding amusement in everyday situations and playfully poking fun at oneself. It is linked to healthy stress-coping mechanisms. Comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, George Carlin, Eddie Izzard, and Billy Connolly often use this type of humor.
  4. Self-defeating humor: This form of humor involves self-deprecation with an aggressive or pitiable undertone. Rodney Dangerfield, Woody Allen, Phillis DillerSteven Wright, and Mitch Hedberg, often use(d) it. Psychologically, self-defeating humor can be detrimental and is occasionally employed by bullying victims to deflect potential attacks—making oneself the subject of ridicule before others have the chance to do so.
Leverage Contagious Laughter

We don’t really know why genuine laughter is contagious, but it is. (Read more in the bonus section below.) Try this and find out!

Just Laugh!

Some things are so obvious that they are hard to see. Why not simply let yourself laugh? It is both wonderfully unconventional and profoundly sagacious.

It’s unconventional because your mind may initially struggle to accept it. How can one laugh when feeling down or amidst chaos? This is known as cognitive dissonance – a mental tension arising when one’s beliefs conflict with their actions.

It’s sagacious because, apart from the health benefits you will experience, this cognitive dissonance fosters awareness, which is crucial for initiating change and growth.

The solution: Deliberately choose to laugh, releasing any laughter sounds that emerge. Separate the action from the emotion. Initially, it might seem mechanical or insincere, but commit to it for at least 10 minutes and observe the impact on your emotions.

Try this: 14 minutes of non-stop intentional laughter (Credit: https://www.laughteryogaonthephone.com/)

Tips and Tricks

  • It’s important to wear comfortable, loose clothing that doesn’t restrict the movement of your belly, like tight belts. Additionally, remember to smile with your eyes as much as you do with your mouth.
  • Start with some deep breathing exercises to help you relax and focus.
  • To facilitate deep belly laughter, open your mouth wide instead of tightly closing it, as laughter from a tightly closed mouth tends to originate from the throat or upper chest.
  • For the most comfortable and effective experience, sitting up straight with your chest open and looking forward or slightly upward is best. You can also lie down on your back with your knees bent if you prefer. By doing so, you’ll minimize physical strain, which will help your body relax and release more laughter.
  • To add variety to your practice, try alternating periods of laughter with moments of silence. For example, you could laugh for two minutes, followed by a minute of silence, and so on.
  • Keep in mind that the goal of these exercises is not necessarily to experience genuine free-flow laughter, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen.
  • Remember only to do what you’re comfortable with, at the intensity of your choice, and for a duration that feels good to you. All emotions are welcome, so if you feel like crying, go ahead and do so.
  • You might want to try the holy laughter technique if you’re religious and open to it. To do this, close your eyes, raise your head, and start praising the Lord in tongues for a minute or two. Then, say “Hee, hee, ha, ha, ho, ho!” several times, which should trigger a flow of laughter. This technique may seem absurd, but it often works 😀.
More Ideas For Laughter
  • Follow along with the practice sessions shared with you in this course.
  • Practice Laughter Wellness Exercises, e.g., try all these in sequence for at least 30 seconds for each one.
  • Try laughing in private spaces such as the bathroom or car. As soon as you turn the tap on or put the key in the ignition, start laughing to yourself.
  • Sing nursery rhymes with “Ha Ha’s” instead of words, e.g., Row, Row, Row your Boat.
  • Why not allow yourself a soft chuckle while performing tasks you may not enjoy, such as repetitive household chores like washing dishes, mopping floors, vacuuming, hanging clothes, or cleaning windows? By embracing this light-hearted approach to activities you’re required to do but may not prefer, you can shift your perspective and make the tasks feel less overwhelming.
  • Laughter leads to playfulness, and playfulness equally leads you back to laughter, so play more, and you will laugh more! This is because laughter is a natural outcome of playful behaviors. Give yourself permission to play on a regular basis. Here are 40 ideas to experience childlike playfulness as adults.
My Perspective

Experiencing laughter alone can be delightful, but genuine happiness often stems from giving rather than receiving. If I am able to elicit a smile or giggle from you when I am feeling low, it shows that the potential for happiness was within me all along, regardless of any perceived absence of joy.

This is precisely why I, along with many others, am passionate about Laughter Wellness and participate in group sessions regularly. It is dependable and sustainable and provides a lighthearted and rejuvenating method for sharing laughter and joy with individuals who may initially seem like strangers but ultimately become kindred spirits. This shared experience carries immense healing potential.

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