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Remembering How to Laugh Again




For every person who wants to laugh but just can't get there, anyone who wants to want to laugh (but really doesn't want to laugh) and/or anyone who starts to laugh again and feels like it's so uncomfortable maybe you shouldn't laugh; I HEAR YOU! I can't say I know exactly how you feel because I'm not in your body; though I experienced these scenarios and once I began laughing again it felt almost like I didn't want to laugh. So much time had passed since I laughed due to a perfect storm (actually a second perfect storm while healing from the first one) that threw my nervous system out of balance that I wasn't sure if it would come back. It was an odd feeling and I wondered why I felt so anti-laughter. There is a good reason this happens. When you go through any combination (emotional, physical, mental) of enough stress your body will change it's neurochemistry. If it is a large enough stressor or happens over a long enough period of time, unique to each person, the receptor sites on your cells will eventually change to match the stress hormones being produced and you start to replace receptors for neuropeptides like endorphins for receptors for cortisol, adrenaline or any combination of stress hormones. This is a very simplistic explanation of neurochemistry, but good enough for what we are talking about today.


In a way your body and mind "forget" how to laugh when enough focus gets directed towards things that produce stress. The good thing about forgetting something is the other side- remembering. Those who walked a similar path before me told me I would come out the other side. I have come out the other side and am here to tell you it does exist and you can get there. Laughter Yoga is one of many tools that has been created to help us find this inner joy and resilience. It does not require anything funny or anything outside of you. You just have to step in and make the decision that you are going to laugh because you are choosing to feel better in this moment and ultimately in the long-term. Laughter Yoga International has published research on health benefits of Laughter Yoga; some of which can be found here.


When I became a Certified Laughter Yoga leader I had been doing laughter yoga for two years. My training required I laugh and learn laughter exercises for several hours (with lots of breaks of course) over the course of a weekend. Two years ago that would have not only been daunting, but probably not even possible due to how cross-wired my brain was with an overactive stress response. Going from not laughing for probably about a year to where I am at now is a testament to just how powerful Laughter Yoga is. If you forgot how to laugh don't fret...you'll remember!

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