These last two weeks, our Laughter Club has averaged 55 people. There are many reasons for this surge in growth including location, core group commitment, spring, visualization (for me that includes prayer), and good press.
I'll focus on two of the factors, visualization and good press. They seem to go hand in hand.
When we first started Laughter Club, no place would have us. Minnesotans don't like public emotion or loudness, unless alcohol is involved. My teacher, Laura Gentry, said, laugh in the park. I affirmed that we would be in the best possible location, and made calls. Finally, when it began snowing in October, we still had no home. A young pastor took a chance on us. One of the deciding factors was that we appeared in an article for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which was picked up by the Associated Press.
I am so grateful that everyone else said no because this space is incredible, large, well-lit, on the bus line, plenty of free parking, sound proof, and includes a safe place to laugh outdoors in the summer. Truly, this space is the best possible outcome.
We started laughing in our new location, which is quite large. With only 3-8 of us, we were swimming in space. Remembering what it felt like to laugh with 60+ people at my teacher training in Chicago, I began seeing and feeling our space filled with joyful laughers. Each week, I would tell everyone my vision that we will fill the space. Then, I would act as if the laughers are on the way. No one could tell me otherwise.
On February 14th, a reporter from the Minneapolis Star Tribune was scheduled to attend Laughter Club. We made it a Laughter and Chocolate Party. We promoted it through Meetup.com, and Facebook. I also called everyone I knew to join us and bring friends. In my mind's eye, I saw people laughing with us, thinking we would have 7. Only 1 or 2 showed up through my begging, but somehow we had 35!
The reporter was amazed with our group and my personal story with Laughter Yoga. While I felt very vulnerable sharing the story of the ways in which my brain and body completely fell apart, I find it is worth the temporary embarrassment because the way it got put back together is compelling. I am so grateful that I will tell whomever will listen, giving the credit to Laughter Yoga and faith.
I think folks are motivated to try something new if they can read, hear, and see results. I share a very short version of my story at most every Laughter Club. I do so because it's the best way to convey the power of this practice. I also think it lets them know that I am human, and that I was not always the joyful, playful person they see today. They can give themselves permission to give it a try.
I have now shifted my focus to seeing them stay. As we all know, Laughter Club attendance ebbs and flows, so I am focused on the ebb. I also make sure that each person is personally welcomed by at least 2 people and thanked as they leave. Each one of them is a blessing to us, and a huge part of the vision.