Most of the people we know are stressed out to varying degrees. Many are depressed. Others prefer to be angry and vindictive. Considering the current state of the world we live in it is easy to understand where they are coming from. Very few things can make people laugh while hundreds can make them frown, howl and cry.
The lives of my friends cannot be described as easy. Some experience major financial struggles, others go through difficult times in their relationships or have some rather heavy duty physical challenges. All still prefer to laugh and we take it very seriously.
Laughter is a necessary component of human happiness, and its absence is a pathology that results in maladaptive and other dysfunctional behaviors (e.g. guilt, depression, worry.)
An Indian family physician Dr. Madan Kataria discovered 11 years ago that anybody could laugh for no particular reason for 20 minutes or more at a time, anytime, anywhere. He dispelled forever the myths that one much be happy or have a sense of humor to laugh.
This one man idea started a bush fire in the hearts & minds of many around the world and directly inspired the creation of over 5000 Laughter Clubs in 40 countries. Most of them are free and public.
Many reasons can explain the Laughter Yoga social phenomenon. Just consider this one: anybody can laugh anytime, anywhere, alone or in a group. Success comes from the heart, not the mind, and everybody wins. This activity is free and carries with it the potential for tremendous physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual benefits. Many consider it their gift back to humanity.
Scientific research has shown time and time again over the past 20 years that laughter has both preventive and therapeutic values. Laughter helps us keep healthy by enriching the blood with ample supplies of oxygen, the lifeline of our system. It helps to remove the negative effects of stress, acts as a pain killer and boosts the immune system. Native and traditional healers have long believed that without an uplifted spirit there is not enough energy or vital force for a person to completely experience healing.
There is more.
Laughter puts us intensely in the moment. The ability to fully live and experience the "now" is of utmost importance because it is the only moment where we can experience happiness.
Also consider that feelings and emotions do not live in thin air. They need a chemical base that can only exist with specific physical behaviors (tighten all the muscles of your body, frown, make a mean face and try to feel love for your sweetheart if you need to consciously experiment with this). Anger and happiness are mutually exclusive. Acting happy is the easiest way (over time and with practice) to becoming happy, regardless of what may be going on in your life. Motions create emotions.
People who laugh don't worry as much as people who don't laugh, and as such enjoy life more. Laughter makes their circumstances seem less serious and therefore tolerable. A playful approach to everyday things is a key factor in keeping healthy. Daily chores are less burdensome when we laugh while doing them. We aren't always having fun, but we do have a lot more fun with laughter than without.