Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You can't Hold a Negative Thought in your Head while Laughing

You can’t hold a negative thought in your head and laugh at the same time. Pretty much, it’s impossible.

I experienced this recently during a laughter program. I had been fairly obsessed with thoughts of a difficult challenge, seemingly unable to stop the upsetting thoughts from running in a steady stream through my mind, over and over; trying to seek peace, or a solution, or understanding, or forgiveness, etc, etc, etc. Obviously it had been far too long since I’d led a laughter session.

My current program was a blessing. During the laughter session, laughing over and over with the laughter exercises I was leading, my mind completely cleared of all negative thoughts; all thoughts at all really, except how much fun we were all having laughing together.

I only realized this fact well after the session was over, when those ubiquitous thoughts came creeping back in. But my orientation towards them was completely different – relaxed, calm, almost peaceful, confident solutions were there, i.e. able to cope and no longer obsessed.

You can’t hold a negative thought in your head and laugh at the same time. Nor can you really be the same afterwards. Laughter brings you into balance without even trying.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


My friend Tita is a very bright spirit.

Fellow laughter leader and receptionist at Harborview Hospital, Tita Begashaw brings joy and laughter to many many people.

I watched her one morning as I sat waiting in the lobby. Adorned in a bright red suit, her dark eyes sparkling, she had a radiant greeting for almost everyone passing by. Either it was a warm “Good Morning”, a kind word or a passing pleasantry. She lit up the morning with her cheerful attitude and abundant laughter.

I asked Tita how it is that she is so joyful. “It’s a choice. The more I practice joy, the easier it becomes.” Tita’s laughter is joy overflowing, joy in motion.

A native of Ethiopia, she moved to this country in 1988 and to Seattle in 1994. She began volunteering at Harborview soon thereafter. After being grief-stricken at the death of her younger brother, she knew that the path to healing lay in being of service to others. She is approaching her 10th anniversary as a full-time employee this May.

Tita will tell you she loves her job, calling it the best gift in her life. Being a people person, she absolutely glows at the front desk in the main lobby. She delights in meeting the full array of humanity that passes through the doors of Harborview. Tita’s faith tells her the way to be joyful is to practice it. If there is a language barrier, she communicates with a smile. Staff members come to the lobby just to get a hug from her, “their energy for the day”, some returning in a few hours for another shot.

Tita’s a natural laugher and uses this gift to lead the Friday morning laughter club at Harborview. She claims the laughter club has only made her better. I say the laughter club has made her more of who she already is.

In a hospital environment of high-stress, Tita herself is a stress-buster. Just being with her is relaxing and joyful. Tita is a great gift to Harborview Hospital and to the world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stay Young Laughing

Have you ever noticed that those who laugh a lot, age very gracefully and generally look much younger than they are?

There’s a reason for that. When you laugh it tones your facial muscles, keeping them in shape, preventing them from sagging. When we laugh almost nonstop in the laughter club, laughter exercise after laughter exercise, our mouths often get sore from all the exercise in our face. A joyful soreness. That’s toning our faces.

A great way to stay young-looking is to laugh and laugh often.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Take an Active Approach to Laughter

Most people laugh in a passive way, when some stimulus in their environment spontaneously catches their funny bones and produces a laugh. It’s hit or miss. Sporadic. It happens when it happens. Most people rarely take an active approach to laughter. Yet that is what Laughter Yoga is all about. We choose to attend a laughter session. We choose to laugh. We self-generate our own laughter. And in the process we add more and more laughter to our lives.

Dr. Kitaria created laughter yoga understanding the tremendous physical and emotional benefits of laughter, yet knowing that most people don’t get nearly enough of it in their lives. He set out to create a method where people could simply laugh more.

How often do we wish we had more laughter in our lives? How often do we wish we had one of those friends nearby with whom we laugh loud and often? Usually people just don’t know how to add more laughter to their lives. But now there’s laughter yoga. Give it a try. Take control of your laughter life. Don’t leave laughter to chance!