MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE

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Steve Wilson
Psychologist

VALUES & ATTITUDES ASSOCIATED WITH SUCCESSFUL LAUGHTER THERAPY*

“Make the world a better place” is a consistent altruistic theme, goal, or predicted outcome expressed by almost every person I have ever come across who promotes laughter. It may be second only to “Laughter is the best medicine”.

I believe that the vibrations of true mirthful laughter have a powerful cosmic effect. We often express the hope and conviction that laughter itself can lead the world to health, happiness, and peace. I believe that we can also cultivate values and attitudes that will magnify and expedite these effects of our laughter.

Here are some ideas about the values and attitudes which, when combined with laughter, potentiate the effect of repairing the world. (Potentiate: to make more powerful, to increase the effectiveness of; intensify.)

The contention that laughter is important for health, happiness, peace, and therefore a better world, dates back to prescriptions as ancient as the Book of Proverbs and Tibetan Buddhism.

I have heard it expressed that, to repair the world, laughter itself is the only thing needed. Laughter has been called a solution to the ills of the world.

However, there is more.

The belief is that to contribute to a better world, one need only to engage in acts of true mirthful laughter, whether you are within earshot of others or all alone. I had the pleasure of friendship with one loyal practitioner of this. Going by himself, Arya Patria (RIP) would hike to an isolated spot in a forest, sit on a rock in a stream there, and laugh for hours. This was his meditation. He believed that sending his laughter vibrations “up to the heavens” was a worthy contribution to a better world.

Here is “more”.

During the recent high holy days of the Jewish religion (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur), I attended worship services at a nearby temple. The rabbi suggested that in addition to enumerating and atoning for what might be seen as “negatives” –the ways during the past year where congregants may have missed the mark in their aims at leading a good and decent life spiritually and actually– they would do well to enumerate the positive ways that such a life could be lived in the coming year. These actions are associated with “tikkun olam”, contributing to repair of the world.

Tikkun olam refers to an aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially. The term dates back the Mishnaic period. Since medieval times, tikkun olam is the idea that we bear responsibility not only for our own moral, spiritual, and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large. The American Conservative movement’s “A Prayer for Our Country” includes the verses, “May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry” and “uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of your prophet: ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war anymore.'” Both lines express wholeheartedly the idea of universal equality, freedom, and peace for all. [Wikipedia]

Here is a positive meditation, prayer, introspection -call it what you will- on being a better person, to contribute to repair of the world. I share this for your consideration of embracing it as part of your own personal and spiritual growth, and for you to share as you see fit with attendees at your therapeutic laughter –and other– programs.

For Every Act of Goodness

Let us affirm the good we have done and will do; let us acknowledge our acts of healing and repair …

For the good we have done and will do by acting with self-restraint and control;

For the good we have done and will do through acts of generosity and compassion;

For the good we have done and will do by offering children our love and support;

For the good we have done by honoring our parents with care and respect;

For the good we have done and will do through acts of friendship and hospitality;

For the good we have done and will do through acts of forgiveness and reconciliation;

For the good we have done and will do by keeping promises and honoring commitments;

For the good we have done and will do through the work of our hands, and by serving others;

For the good we have done and will do by caring for the earth and sustaining its creatures;

For the good we have done and will do by housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger;

For the good we have done and will do by acting with integrity and honesty;

For the good we have done and will do through thoughtful and encouraging words;

For the good we have done and will do by caring for our health and that of our loved ones;

For the good we have done and will do by strengthening our community;

For the good we have done and will do through acts of civic engagement and acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world.

All these have brought and will bring light and healing into the world. May these acts inspire us to renew our efforts for years to come.

I commend these intentions to you as both lofty and appropriate, especially if you are a laughter lover or leader.

 

*The methods developed by World Laughter Tour that have become known as laughter therapy (actually more correctly: therapeutic laughter) endeavor to create an experience of systematic exposure to true mirthful laughter in a supportive environment.

The method is built on “non-talking” psychological therapies, most commonly known as activity therapies familiar in the Western world, such as art therapy and music therapy.

The idea is to bring about therapeutic outcomes (defined in our Study Guide and in the Gelopedia) that may have remedial, repairing, and strengthening effects on self and the world. This is done by immersion in a combination of activities that will achieve the intersection of (1) the psychology of humor, (2) the science of laughter, and (3) the experience of mirth.

One of the goals is to encourage individuals to embrace laughter and make it part of their lifestyle.

The curriculum has three major components: knowledge & theory, skills, and values & attitudes.

The major strategy for imbuing what are conceived of as the values & attitudes are six practices called Good-Hearted Living: paying compliments, being flexible, gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, and ‘sweetness’.