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Relationship between Sense of Humor and Laughter

humor_meditationWhat is the relationship between a sense of humor and laughter? Is it possible to laugh for no reason? Most people believe that one must have a sense of humor to laugh but Laughter Yoga has proven otherwise. No one is born with a sense of humor, which is the brain’s capacity to perceive, relate, and experience a situation and judge if the situation is funny or not. We acquire this judgmental skill as our mental abilities develop during mid and late childhood. Sense of humor is a very mental and intellectual phenomena.

Laughter arising out of humor is conditional. It depends upon the person’s intellectual ability, state of mind and level of happiness and life satisfaction. But laughter can be achieved unconditionally. Children laugh without any mental or cognitive ability to aid them in comprehending humor. Most of their laughter is an outcome of playfulness and inherent joyfulness. To develop the ability to laugh joyfully once again, adults must remove layers of inhibition, programming and mental roadblocks created by self, family, and society. Beneath these barriers lies an infinite ability to laugh for no reason.

Teaching an inhibited person to develop a sense of humor is like flushing a drain blocked with rocks and rubble. Once the rubble is removed, water will start flowing. Similarly, mental inhibition and shyness is like rubble that blocks our sense of humor. Laughter Yoga facilitates this cleaning process. As years of programming are cleared, natural joyful laughter inside of us is released and begins to flow.
Laughter Yoga techniques are effective even for people who have lost their laughter or have absolutely no sense of humor. People often say, “I am depressed”, “I cannot laugh”, or “I don’t feel like laughing”. We tell them, “It doesn’t matter. Just bring us your willing body and we will make you laugh.”

Once released, natural laughter is hard to stop. Even in a country like India where we don’t have a great tradition of humor and comedy, hundreds of thousands of people laugh daily in public parks. People, who never smiled, now laugh at small things. They have also started telling jokes and acting funny - something they never did before. Playfulness has helped to develop their sense of humor and has brought more laughter to their lives.

In fact, laughter and humor share a cause-and-effect relationship. They are in unison and cannot be separated. One leads to another. Sometimes humor is the cause, which is more mental and cognitive, while the effect is laughter - more of a physical phenomenon. In Laughter Clubs, laughter is the cause and the effect is humor. I realized that most people do not identify with a sense of humor. They find it easier to laugh physically in a group. This has led to the growing popularity of Laughter Clubs. So, even if you don’t have sense of humor, don’t worry. Just join a Laughter Club and you will soon develop one.

Difference between Laughter Clubs And Humor Based Activities

What is the difference between laughter and humor? Let me make a statement: ‘Though we do laugh without using humor, we help people develop their sense of humor through laughter. Let us understand what humor is. It is more subtle and is the awareness and ability of a person to see something funny, or express something in a funny way while laughter is one of the many expressions of humor.

Humor is the cause and the effect is laughter which brings physiological and biochemical changes in the body. But in Laughter Clubs, we do not use any type of mental and cognitive humor as a cause. We use the physical act of laughter which helps people to do away with their inhibition and shyness, become more open and start seeing the funny side of life. In other words, laughter helps our club members to develop a sense of humor.

In Laughter Clubs, we laugh in the form of an exercise in a group at absolutely nothing. This does not mean that there is no reason to laugh. The very idea of laughing in a group at nothing is so absurd that it makes us laugh. Secondly, we use the infectious and contagious nature of laughter as a reason for simulated laughter.

We do not use humor as a cause to simulate laughter because humor is a mental and intelligent phenomenon. In fact, a lot of people feel they cannot laugh much as they don’t have a sense of humor. This is where a Laughter Club really helps. It brings more laughter to the lives of people without bothering much about their sense of humor. Laughter helps to open up their perception and create a sense of humor. In Laughter Clubs, laughter is the cause and humor is the effect. It is like putting the cart before the horse, and it works.