A Laughing Matter

LOL. This is a typical term used in our daily online conversations with friends and strangers. Laugh Out Loud. But how often do we actually do that? Not all our problems have a solution; we are not always provided with a direction to find a way out of distress.

If words cannot console us, laughter can. By laughing, we decrease our level of stress and our immune system is able to build a strong defense mechanism against illness. Laughter has a soothing effect on us; it enables us to forget about the pain that each of us have surely endured at some point of time in our lives. In terms of health, it helps people, especially women, to maintain a stable blood pressure and it has a cleansing effect on our lungs.

Crying requires the use of a lot of muscles, along with stiffening one’s mood. However, laughter is a gratifying process that brings pleasure to both the giver, as well as the recipient. It is an easy method of finding inner peace and overcoming our worries. A psychological survey concludes that laughter is the spark that sustains any relationship that is bound to face its occasional lows. What more, it keeps us looking and feeling young, and it is absolutely free of cost.

Some people argue that instead of laughter therapy, it is more apt to suggest that smiling brightens up one’s day. Laughter should be natural and not a forceful act. If it is institutionalized, it may fade away like many other institutions have in the past. While the debate continues, it is worth throwing light on a quote of relevance in this context-“This is the only curved line that can make all things straight.”

Mumbai has been called the home of laughter clubs in India. According to Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of the International Laughter Club movement, laughter therapy can be practiced in groups, without narrating jokes to one another. Like all exercises, it begins with certain warm-up exercises like clapping and chanting. There are different kinds of laughters- greeting laughter, milkshake laughter and lion laughter to name a few, all involving the group members to make eye contact with each other.

An overwhelming number of school children have begun enrolling themselves in laughter clubs. This can be explained by the fact that students these days are a lot more burdened with peer pressure, and are not as cheerful and most children were, say, in the 1980’s. According to Dr. Kataria, laughter is a single unifying factor that can break all barriers among different people across the world. It transcends all class, caste, religious, social, professional, political and ideological divisions among people.

We, as citizens, can spare some time and work towards introducing laughter clubs to our localities, schools, colleges and workplaces. Even though initially, people might be skeptical towards the formation of such a club, it can work wonders towards spreading the message of giving back to the society, a part of what we take from it. It is an exercise that does not require more than 15-20 minutes, cooperation of its members and an inherent desire to fight against ones worries. Pollution levels are lowest in the mornings, so this is a good time to practice laughter therapy, as it complements morning walks.

So how often do we actually Laugh Out Loud when someone types out LOL on our computer screen? It might be beneficial to do so next time, and mean it when we say it. If we stop looking for reasons to laugh, the world will be a much better place to live it. May laughter therapy translate into a global movement of joy, peace and good health.

Aditi Ghosh


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