Learning to Let Go and Laugh

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This blog includes a 12-step laughing program and links to lots of extra resources for you.
 

If you were lucky enough to have been a relatively happy kid, you probably enjoyed lots of giggles, chuckles, chortles, and many deep belly laughs. You can remember times when giggle-fits had you and a friend collapsing, limp from laughter, for reasons you can no longer remember.

This hardly ever happens to grown ups, even though we know for sure that it is quite beneficial. Really. It’s scientific.

But, sometimes laughter is like exercise. Everybody knows it’s good for them, but few do it with any regularity. Adults rarely let themselves be so out of control as to give in to such hysterical guffaws and giggle-fits that they actually double over with laughter or fall out of their chairs, let alone happily collapse. Few grown-ups these days are getting their RDA -Recommended Daily Allowance- quota of laughs. That’s a total of about 15 minutes every day.

Deep belly laughter–in fact, even gentle giggling and chuckling– can release a tsunami of hormones and neurotransmitters that bathe your brain and circulate throughout your body. These wonderful chemicals throw switches in every system of the body to turn on to healthy functioning.

Among some of the best benefits of laughter is that it reduces stress hormones and reverses stress-related chemistry, helps muscles relax, opens arteries to make it easier for blood to flow to the heart, helps digestion, sends out the body’s natural painkillers, and helps your immune system to work more efficiently.

These effects begin immediately when experience mirthfulness, when you feel giggly, or are genuinely amused. If you can manage to laugh for as little as a  minute (more is better), the effects can last for 24-48 hours, or until you get aggravated, whichever comes first.

By the way, the wonderful effects of laughter are not cumulative. That means that if you happen to laugh a lot today, the physical changes won’t last until next week. Nope. Like food, even if you eat a big meal today, you’ll need to eat again tomorrow.

Starting right now, get all the laughs you can every day!

After a careful and extensive review of the studies on the science of laughter, University of Maryland researcher, Robert Provine, PhD, concluded that, at that time, the evidence for the benefits of laughter was not not entirely conclusive, but it was very promising. His advice? “Until the scientists get it all worked out, get all the laughs you can.” 

Many recent studies bolster the case for laughing. 

An easy way to get the benefits is to add humor to your daily TV viewing. Participants in scientific research of cardiac patients showed that humor was extremely helped. All of the participants in the study did standard cardiac physical therapy rehab in a hospital setting. Half of them added 30-minutes a day of watch a favorite sitcom on TV. A brief video news report explains how those 30-minutes a day of humor over one year of the study was associated with significantly reduced likelihood of a subsequent heart attack.  

Here’s a 12-step laughing program you can live with…
1. First you give yourself permission to let go and laugh like crazy.
2. Then take a nice deep breath, smile, let out the breath and let yourself chuckle.
OR…
3. Sit in a quiet room alone. Plan to stay there for about 10 minutes. Loosen your belt. take off your shoes.
2. Loosen any other tight clothing so that you will not feel restrained. Be sure to take off your tie.
3. Think of a funny joke or a ridiculous event in your life.
4. Take a nice deep breath, smile, let out the breath and let yourself chuckle.
5. Do it again.
6. Again.
7. Typically, by the third try you will be able to begin to laugh out loud.
8. Now, see if you can do it and laugh for at least 30 seconds.
OR…
9. If this is difficult for you, plan to do it with a friend. This approach is usually effective because both people give permission to each other to be silly.
10. If you are embarrassed when you first start, you may want to close your eyes. This will make everyone else disappear so that you can be more spontaneous.
11. Many people find it helpful to play an audio tape of people laughing or watch comedy movies.
12. You may find it easier to laugh if you look at yourself for a long time in a mirror. If you can make the person in mirror have good chuckle, you will find that you feel better, too.
BONUS STEP: If there’s a Laughter Club near you, GO!

Stay in touch. Let me know what works for you.
 
Steve Wilson
 
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR INNER LAUGHTER“Laughing To The Future” – YouTube TEDx presentation
Hugh McClelland is a Television Producer and Project Manager who has been a Certified Laughter Leader and Laughter Yoga Instructor since 2004. He has organized laughter training sessions and led laughter sessions for government departments, corporate sales teams, hospital care staff, cancer survivors, personal development
groups, and palliative care staff.
“Finding Your Inner Laughter” – Audio CD
Certified Laughter Leader Carol Hubert uses her calming energy along with music, drumming, and guided imagery to lead the audience to laughter without jokes. This 90-minute audio recording of a live program guides you through all of the elements of a laughter session. You can experience the benefits of laughter exercises, relaxing, freeing up your mind, learning the six steps of Good-Hearted Living, and having fun. Listen and do the session along with the 600 people who were in the audience.“How to Create Therapeutic Laughter” actually has wide-ranging applications for business, healthcare, and education. It encompasses all of the positive emotions for health, happiness, and productivity. It goes beyond the power of laughter to include a variety of Positive Activity Intervention activities, and the role of attitudes and emotions in health, healing and ‘flourishing’. Anyone who might like more laughter in their live, or like to lead others in laughter therapy can do so by completing the course  either in a 2-day workshop or through convenient home study, or both. It’s all included. 

Take advantage of the fact that laughter is contagious by laughing along with recorded laughter.

Laughter Unlimited By Janet Lifshin
This is the most popular laughter recording of the past 6 years. A great value. You get 30 continuous minutes of the most contagious, infectious laughter you will ever hear. Produced by Vanessa Vendola and Certified Laughter Leader Janet Lifshin, this audio CD is a laughter classic.
LAUGHTER MEDITATION By Pragito Dove
A practical tool for therapeutic laughter and personal growth. Pragito Dove makes this experience accessible, practical, and powerful. A transformative healing process that enhances love, gracefulness, flexibility, and enjoyment in your life. E experience your sense of playfulness and fun with the Laughter Meditation. Pragito guides the listener through a complete meditation that induces feelings of harmony and well-being. From the author of Lunchtime Enlightenment.

“Laughing Celebration” By Sarito Sun
With more than 20 years as a Meditation Expert and Hypnotherapist, Sarito Sun is dedicated to helping people individually and in groups. Sarito believes that laughter, joy, and meditation are three of the most powerful ways to shower the world with peace, health, and prosperity. Starting in the 1970’s, Sarito has worked with people from all walks of life, including renowned authors and spiritual leaders. In her own personal search, she has explored modern methods as well as powerful ancient techniques for awareness and meditation. Sarito provides group sessions for businesses and organizations, including the Chopra Center in La Costa, CA. She also teaches at Churches in the San Diego-LA area. 

Please share this blog with anyone who might like to laugh more.
About the Author

Steve Wilson

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Award-winning psychologist, Steve Wilson, also known as The Joyologist and The Cheerman of the Bored, has spent 30 years specializing in applied and therapeutic humor with a humanitarian mission. As Director of National Humor Month, he intertwines science and ancient wisdom with substance and humor to create practical methods to lead the world to health, happiness and peace through laughter. More than six thousand people have completed his unique training in how to create therapeutic laughter, and tens of thousands more around the world have been uplifted by his talks, classes, books, and articles. He established the World Laughter Tour, Inc., in 1998, to be a rich resource and inspiration for improving productivity, health, and well being in business, healthcare and education. For more information http://www.worldlaughtertour.com and http://www.humormonth.com.