Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Centenarians Laugh

Two women recently attended one of my programs on Laughter Yoga. They are residents at a retirement community that hired me to bring laughter into their lives. I knew immediately that this community of seniors was special. As they slowly assembled for my program, and as I was lecturing, there was a degree of attentiveness, aliveness and interest, unusual for this age group. They asked questions while I spoke. They smiled. No one fell asleep (rare for any speaker at a senior community). They burst enthusiastically into laughter once the laughter session began. The activity director accurately told me “I’ve got the best seniors.”

Most striking were two women – one age 101, one age 102. The “younger one” needed to be wheeled in and needed some help getting settled. But for the entire program, her face was lit up with a huge smile of unusual brightness. From where I stood as lecturer, she was positively glowing. I have no doubt that this woman has been laughing her entire life and that laughter is a key factor to her health and longevity.

The woman who was 102 blew my socks off! A lovely woman in a pale blue suit, she walked in to the meeting room. I repeat, she walked in. No wheelchair, no walker and not even a cane. She stood and had a pleasant conversation with me before the program began. I had no need to raise my voice to speak to her as she could hear me perfectly well while we were chatting. She had a wonderful positive disposition – friendly, joyful – and like all the others, she came to laugh. She made it clear to me in that initial conversation that laughter was the reason she made it to 102 in such good health.

I’ve had many 90-somethings join my laughter programs over the years, but these were my first centenarians. Please notice that this is not in a blue zone – those areas of our planet where there is a large concentration of centenarians. This is just an area near Seattle. These women inspire me greatly, to stay positive and keep laughing well into an enriching ripe age.

Photo: Stock.xchng

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Joy Challenge

Are you comfortable with tremendous joy?

Some people aren’t comfortable with the laughter club and laughter yoga, for different reasons. My observation and theory is that, many who aren’t comfortable with it, aren’t comfortable experiencing that much joy, that much exhilaration. It’s not in their comfort zone. It’s not their usual experience. And for whatever reason it’s not their choice.

I think many people are comfortable with the level of joy that is most often present in their lives, and often it’s not that much. Have you ever noticed that often, after experiencing a tremendous emotional high, someone will then instigate drama, and subsequently bringing their emotional level back down? A parent told me that this is often the case with her 10-year old son. After they have an especially great time together, he often initiates an emotional tangle between them. I think we often unconsciously create situations that keep our emotional climate to a place we are accustomed to. Have you ever noticed that some people are addicted to drama? Sadly so.

It is often necessary to force ourselves to be comfortable with tremendous joy. Challenges can be positive as well as negative. I offer any potential laughter club participants out there to come experience joy, joy and more joy, on a sustained level. Call it a joy challenge!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Parrot Laughs

The parrot went wild laughing. His owner had been trying to teach him to laugh and was making progress. But when I came to visit, this parrot went wild.

I would typically burst into laughter in the middle of my conversation with my friend. The parrot would follow suit with his own laughter. This in turn would cause me to roar with even more laughter, which would cause him (the parrot) to roar with even more laughter in response. On and on we went until it seemed that we were both almost completely out of control. It was really something – laughing with a parrot.

Was his laughter real? Was it in response to his own feelings of merriment? I have no idea but he certainly seemed to be having the time of his life. I know I was. And he was clearly very upset when we eventually left the room where he was caged.

I’d never bonded with a bird before but I left feeling close to this parrot. Laughter is a powerful social glue creating lasting connections between people; or in this case between woman and bird.

I’ve since learned that one way to have parrots bond with you is to play with them, and as it is with all of us, laughter is an essential ingredient to play. On the ezine Winged Wisdom, Laura Middleton explains “Parrots love to hear us laugh. A parrot that learns to laugh will sometimes call their owners to play with them by laughing.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Think Globally - Laugh Locally!

Think Globally, Laugh Locally - It’s been the motto of World Laughter Tour for ages, thanks to the humor and wit of its founder Steve Wilson. WLT trains individuals like myself to be Certified Laughter Leaders. We lead Therapeutic Laughter sessions where participants laugh unconditionally through a series of playful laughter exercises. Our mission is to spread laughter for our health and our happiness, as well as for world peace.

We feel that through the spirit of laughter we come to a place of peace inside ourselves and when each of us is able to be at peace within, we see this reflected in the outer world. Peace begins with each individual person.

Milton Berle once said: “Laughter is imperative. It takes away the stress and pressure. It’s better than anything. If we were all laughing, there would be no more war.”

Or as Alan Alda put it, “When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.” It becomes difficult to remain angry at each other when we’re laughing. Laughter can instantly melt away conflict; or at the least facilitate finding peaceful solutions.

A lawyer in California emailed me once, in reference to my laughter work, sharing how he uses laughter successfully in his profession. He does the contentious work of mediation, seeking resolution between two opposing parties. Yet he explained that, if there is a point in negotiations where he is able to interject some humor and get everyone to laugh, this is always the point at which negotiations take a turn for the better and they begin to find a solution.

When people laugh together, hardness softens, differences melt away and we begin to remember that we are all part of the same human family.

Think globally – Laugh locally. It means world peace – one laugh at a time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Laughing Cow Cheese

July is Tour de France month and my friend Franklin, a Tour de France groupie, recently introduced me to Laughing Cow Cheese, one of the very first companies (in 1930) to take part in the Tour de France caravan of sponsors. They give out their merchandise while parading ahead of the racers.

Their brand is represented by a picture of a fun-loving cow wearing earrings in the act of exuberant laughter. I’d say this company knows how to incorporate fun and laughter into life. Who would think of making cheese a laughing item?

The name originated from World War I, when trucks carrying meat to the French front lines carried the picture of a cow. The founder of this company adopted the image, transformed it in to a laughing cow, put it on his round boxes of cheese and called it La Vache qui rit.

Some of their blog topics include ideas for laughing ladies nights out and a summer fun fitness playlist – joyful tunes to have fun while you work out.

The best part is their slogan: “Have you Laughed Today?”

Thank you Laughing Cow Cheese for bringing more laughter in the world.

Check out their fun website at www.thelaughingcow.com

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Men Love to Make Women Laugh

Statistics show men love to make women laugh. So it was this morning in my home.

My partner Rex and I got into a roll of laughter brushing our teeth. We don’t usually find ourselves in front of the same sink and the same mirror doing this morning ritual at the same time. Yet today we did and it became food for fun and games. To be accurate Rex was goofing around making funny faces and performing silly dances all the while his tooth brush in hand and mouth, and I was getting into more and more hysterics watching him. Which just fed him more. So technically I was the only one laughing while brushing my teeth (not necessarily a pretty sight).

“Is this as good for you as it is for me?” I ask. Knowing full well that it is, yet wanting to hear in his words, why men love to make women laugh.

His response: “A man has fun making a woman laugh. Even though he might not be laughing out loud, he’s laughing on the inside. He’s enjoying it. He’s amused and feeling good about himself that he made a woman laugh. Particularly the woman he loves. Men like to make women happy. When their partner is unhappy it’s very hard for men. Men feel like a failure. So here’s the glory – watching himself make his woman light up.”

“It’s us on our white horses, riding up and making you laugh. We love it. We feel great.”

Photo: Stock.xchnge