As a Joyologist at Laughter Works Australia, I focus on combining laughter and wellness through play. Dr. Madan Kataria is an awesome inspiration, and developed ‘Laughter Yoga’ in Mumbai in India 1995. I was fortunate to be one of the first intakes in Australia to be trained as a Laughter Yoga facilitator, and went on to establish 2 laughter clubs in Western Australia.
Laughter of course is contagious and has spread to well over 6,000 laughter social clubs around the world. Dr Madan Kataria states that depressed people rarely laugh, so to get them laughing is the beginning of positive health and happiness changes.
As is well known in the laughter literature, laughter triggers endorphins and these are what are termed ‘happy hormones’. You can even fake it ‘til you make it, so you don’t have to feel happy to get those endorphins pumping! This reduces stress and blood pressure and enhances positive feelings which impact health and wellbeing.
Dr. Patch Adams conducts his annual ‘Healing with Humour Tour’ to Russia. This is an event which brings together 40 people from around the world to engage in clowning and laughter to enhance the wellbeing of Russians. Patch and his gaggle of clowns visit hospitals, nursing homes, people on the streets and any other forum that seems appropriate. Where there are sad faces - ‘send in the clowns’. Have whoopee is the way Patch describes it. What was witnessed, was that the atmosphere immediately changes as clowns enter the space, people instantly relax and begin smiling and laughing. Instead of a sea of blank faces it transforms into smiles, connection and communication. Like one of those laughter waves.
We live in a world where there are many lonely people, so laughter, play and clowning can be just the medicine we all need, to feel better and hook up to those joyful endorphins.
At Laughter Works Australia play is put into practice. Adults remember how to ‘play’ again. They are in a safe environment so they feel comfortable allowing their inner playful self to emerge. Some adults had childhoods where they were not able to play, or the parents were very serious or had to work. You often see in third world countries little children working to scrape together a living. So many will miss their childhoods.
The Art of Play is extremely important, even vital for health and wellbeing. It enables connection on a level that is not intellectual. According to ‘Psychology Today’, play is crucial to mental health, creativity, health and happiness.
Play is the highest expression of our humanity and advances the evolutionary process. Moreover, it is suggested that play can renew the neural networks that enable humans to adapt. Often what we see today with children is that the focus is on homework as they must ‘make the grade’. I wonder how many kids are not playing as much these days as they must do hours of homework. Then as they grow older they go to work and often there is no play there.
So how does that affect our relatedness to others, our sense of fun and humour and resiliency. I suspect it has profound implications which we are only just beginning to understand today.
So my advice as a Joyologist is to play play play!! Let me say it again, play play play!!! Give yourself permission to have fun. Instead of saying ‘I must do this...’ and follow the mental list, let yourself, your family and workmates do something fun together. Play together!
Laughter and play binds families. Enjoy life and allow life to be enjoy-able. You can do it!!
Helpful links from this article referenced this blog entry: Dr Madan Kataria: http:// www.articlesbase.com/wellnessarticles/ laughing-in-the-faceof- depression-5608268.html Psychology of play: http:// www.psychologytoday.com/ articles/199906/the-power-play