Do Those Who Laugh For No Reason Belong in the Loony Bin?
In a recent Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Training (where people are guided in how to lead Laughter Exercises, start Laughter Clubs, add Laughter Practices, to other professional offerings, etc.) I had the good fortune of having a Mental Health Nurse in my group. We were talking about how the public has a perception that a group of people Laughing for No Reason is what it's like in the crazy house (insane asylum).
What does the Loony Bin look like?
There is a fear that if we Laugh without Cause, “The men in the white coats will come and take us away” (to the madhouse). But she stopped me short. "Oh no," said Nurse Fitzgerrell, "I've worked in Mental Health Facilities - what they call the Loony Bin. It's not like that at all." She went on to describe what it IS like in the crazy house: "People are stooped over, shuffling their feet, walking around depressed and with zero energy. That's what it’s like in the Loony Bin: Quiet, suppressed and miserable." It later struck me that this depressive scene more accurately describes the way it looks when people are working in a big company, at a desk job they hate, stuck behind a cubicle with virtually no human contact, shuffling from their desk to the water cooler and back. Quiet, suppressed, miserable --- zero energy. This is the "low-level corporate/business" world - that's what looks like the Loony Bin.
Where is the place where you see people laughing wildly, for the sheer joy of it, with no Apparent Reason? That place is called "The Playground" (and it is usually inhabited almost exclusively by young children). What we do in Laughter Clubs is: "Take Back the Playground" so that people of all ages - adults, seniors, disabled, prisoners, corporate lemmings, CEO's and VIPs, grandparents, grandchildren, EVERYbody - all can laugh, play and celebrate together. We are liberating the "cause" of Laughter. Instead of laughing as a nearly involuntary RE-action (to a joke or an Adam Sandler routine), we are PRO-actively laughing, ourselves being the source or "cause" of the Laughter. We actually ARE Laughing for a Reason, the "real" reasons for why we would want to laugh being:Relief of stress, improvement of health, the pleasure of socializing, and enjoyment of life in the here-and-now.
We are just not Laughing for the "Reason" of reacting to something we perceive as "funny." Instead of saying, " -That- was so funny, I couldn't help myself, and started laughing," we say, "I am going to help myself to some good-hearted, healthful Laughter" and then we look for forms (like Laughter Exercises) through which we express this desired Laughter. Consider this: the “Crazy House” - to where, to rephrase a common concern, we might get taken away and "locked up", if we were to Laugh for No Reason - is a place where people are dejected, miserable and somber. Like, where most people call: "Work." But perhaps the more appropriate place to take people who are indulging in unabashed, unreasonable hilarity would be: to the Playground, in the Park.
“Out beyond ideas of Right or Wrong, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” --Rumi
Please, come join me, in the Laughter Playground. This field is called: a Laughter Club. Find one near you. I'll meet you...
Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and
Founder of the Laguna Laughter Club (over 20,000 laffers since 2005)