By Ashok Bhargava
VANCOUVER: When we hear someone laughing, we are immediately intrigued and want to know why? That’s because laughter is contagious. I think, most of us want to be happy and instinctively search for a cheerful, crystal clear and carefree laugh.
Laugh we must because it has so many benefits. It lowers stress hormones, relaxes muscles, eases anxiety, improves mood, enhances resilience, strengthens optimism, empowers relationships, helps defuse conflict and supplies countless other benefits. Since laughter is the best antidote for many ailments, we must have giant doses of laughter every day.
Laughing and making other people laugh is an important part of my day. I can think of many times when I laughed so hard that tears ran down my cheeks. We all know that it is fun to chuckle, but do we do it enough? We work hard, have pressing deadlines, and just barely make it through our workday before going home, helping the kids with homework, taking the dog out, cooking dinner, cleaning up and putting the entire family to bed. You may only have 15 minutes to catch a glimpse of your favourite show before you fall asleep and start all over again. With that schedule, are you laughing at all?
My best laughs used to come from my sons when they were young. I will catch them unexpectedly and tickle them on their bellies or armpits. They would chase me around and try to tickle me while shouting “kili-kili” which can be translated as “laugh the laughs”. Their carefree laugh was truly enjoyable and I couldn’t help but giggle along with them until we collapsed from laughter-induced exhaustion. Although they grown up, we still laugh and poke fun. I love to write poems in my spare time and ask my sons to read and comment on them. One time my son said, `Dad your poems are good but don’t quit your day job, please.’ That become a trigger for us to laugh and we have often laughed about that innocent comment several times.
My son Arnel can make me laugh with his voice impressions. He does a peculiar Panjabi accent similar to one we’ve heard on Radio India. The voices do not mock the people, but rather relate to a silly situation. Our younger son Neil has a very keen sense of humour. My wife Aida is very witty but her humour is more subtle. She likes to laugh while watching her favourite comedy shows. You can hear her laughter almost a block away from our living room. What makes you laugh? Remember that it’s healthy to laugh a lot.
Did you know a World Laughter Day is held on the first Sunday of May every year? There are over 8,000 Laughter Clubs worldwide. The first celebration was in1998 in Mumbai, India and was arranged by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga Movement. He says: Laughter is a positive and powerful emotion that has all the ingredients required for individuals to master themselves and to change the world in a tubular way.
A few years ago, on my trip to India, I encountered a group of people, early in the morning at Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi, laughing silly and very loud. Their leader invited me to join them just for the fun of it. I joined them and let myself be silly and laughed without caring about what others thought of me. I must confess that after ten minutes of laughing I felt very good both physically and mentally. I realized that a smile starts on the lips, a grin spreads to the eyes, a chuckle comes from the belly; but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around. I challenge you to try laughing loud. I assure you that your breathing will improve and you will feel good. Remember when you laugh you change and when you change the world changes.
I just found out that the Harborview Medical centre in England has a certified laughter leader. Every Friday morning, he leads a group of people in silly exercises like pulling imaginary floss through their ears or riding a pretend roller coaster to make them laugh. It is a medically proven fact that laughing boosts the immune system. It reduces headaches and other types of pain. Laughing gives internal muscles a workout that improves digestion and it helps with sleep problems.
I urge all of you to enjoy your life and laugh to get your emotions going. You know, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers by laughing.
Famous American poet, painter and essayist E.E. Cummings says, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
So come on and let’s all lighten up and laugh.
Christopher Santiago – Joyous Laugh
Maricris Carlos – Indomitable Laughter (below)
[Ashok Bhargava is the president of International Writers Network (WIN) Canada]