Tag Archives: jokes

Role of laughter in jury deliberations during a capital murder case: plays key roles in group communication and group dynamics

Laughter can play key roles in group communication and group dynamics — even when there’s nothing funny going on. That’s according to new research from North Carolina State University that examined the role of laughter in jury deliberations during a capital murder case. The researchers were given access to the full transcript of jury deliberations in the 2004 Ohio trial of Mark Ducic, a white male charged with two murders and 30 additional counts, largely related to drug violations.

Here is a summary of the research:

“Laughter is one way of dealing with ambiguity and tension in situations where a group is attempting to make consequential decisions and informal power dynamics are in play,” Keyton says. “There are very few opportunities to see group decision making, with major consequences, in a public setting,” Keyton explains. “It is usually done in private, such as in corporate board meetings or judicial proceedings. But laughter is something that occurs frequently, and not only because something is funny. Nobody in the jury was laughing at jokes.”

Read more at http://www.sciencedaily.com

A personal opinion on two popular approaches to laughter

Laughter is powerful, comes in many flavors and that’s all good. Ultimately, if you are laughing you are laughing. What took you there doesn’t really matter anymore. Or does it?
It has been my experience over the years that there are many levels of benefits one can get from laughter that are far beyond the physical, and what got you to laugh in the first place does matter.
This article discusses a personal opinion on two popular approaches.

Humor (a mind-body approach to laughter) is a powerful, very entertaining, and potentially wonderful addition to your daily life yet it has five big limitations if you want to benefit from laughter on a daily basis:

  1. Humor is short lived. A good joke will make you laugh for a few seconds at best, not hours. What do you do then if you want to laugh heartily every day?
  2. Humor is hard to sustain. Humor requires an element of surprise to work, which means that you need to be constantly looking for new material if you want to laugh daily. It also requires memory and wit, and not everybody has those.
  3. Humor is cultural. We do not all relate to the same jokes (1), not to mention the problem of language. How can you laugh that way with people of a different culture who do not speak your language?
  4. Humor tends to be “horizontal” and take something away. I personally identify two types of humor: “vertical” and “horizontal”. “Vertical” humor is good and rare. It plays on incongruity and is aimed at nobody and nothing in particular (2). Most forms of humor today are not “vertical” though but “horizontal”, usually with a downward slant: it’s about sarcasm or ridicule and takes something away from the party being laughed at. Here is why this is an issue: the greatest illusion of this world is the idea of separation, that what happens to you cannot and will not impact me. This is not the case. You would never treat the earth or your possessions, and certainly not other people, the way that you do if you thought that those people and those things were you, and you were them. If you thought you were doing to yourself what you do to others, many — perhaps most — of your behaviors would fall away.
  5. Humor is about “it” not “you”. Humor is safe because you get to choose to laugh or not. It may make you feel good, but it won’t commit you to change. Why can’t we just  laugh together, just because, out of a sense of complicity or intimacy? Some go as far as arguing that popular humor (not all, thank goodness) has become a form of aggression (3). They say that the ability to make others laugh confers a degree of control which dominant people are prone to exploit to show they are in charge.

Choosing to laugh as a form of exercise on the other hand is free from these limitations:

  1. The duration and intensity of your laughter is entirely up to you. You can laugh when you want to for however long you desire and your strength allows. Some people laugh daily for up to 3 hours at a time (4)!
  2. It is always new, always fresh. Laughter has no choreography therefore every single laugh is a success. It’s irrational, illogical and unreasonable and as such it is deliciously out of control because it feels good yet you don’t know where it’s going.
  3. It is universal. Everybody can laugh. There is nothing to explain and nothing to understand.
  4. It adds value to people’s lives. Laughing as a form of exercise is a powerful way to build and strengthen your self-image because it forces you to feel good in the present moment as you are, in all your glory and imperfections, without to even have to think about it. It’s about strength, not courage, because it’s about letting go. The here and now is a place of perfect equilibrium where the past is gone – ashes are ashes – and the future is not yet born. It’s a field of pure potential because it’s both empty and full, the beginning and the end. Feeling good about yourself is important because the starting point for both success and happiness is a healthy self-image. You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way your see yourself.
  5. It is very empowering. Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness method make you feel connected with and fully accepted by the people you laugh with, because it’s beyond the mind and your body can’t think. It’s a form of communication where we’re sharing something and there is no judgment. It’s also an easy way to become more positive because it teaches that there is no hard link between event and emotions. Nerve impulses are just that. They have no meaning of their own. The fact that you’ve lost your keys for example does not mean you have to feel stressed. That’s a choice. You could laugh instead if you wanted to. Laughter exercises allow you to positively vocalize your stress without having to verbalize it. What more do you want?

Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness method offer a unique form of exercise where anybody can laugh for no reason and great benefits. They teach you that you don’t need to be in a good mood, fit, healthy, or have a sense of humor to laugh. Participants typically start their practice in a group with a series of simulated laughter, breathing and other joyful exercises and that laughter rapidly becomes real and contagious. Laughter is healthy, always within reach, and really good for you. Thousands of scientific studies over the past three decades all suggest that laughter has substantial preventive and therapeutic benefits. It is genuinely a powerful form of complementary medicine.

You may wonder why I wrote this article. It is not intended as a direct attack to the world of humor.
We live in a world that desperately needs to lighten up.
There are many ways to lighten up, and all are good. Something is always better than nothing.

This is not a call to modify any behavior either, but rather an invitation to reconsider why you laugh when you do.
It is not the movements but rather the energy behind the movements that are really important.
If wearing a clown nose makes you laugh this is wonderful. Keep wearing it. Just don’t label yourself as funny in your own head. Make it fun. Wear it because you like it and would be equally entertained if you were the only one to ever know about it. Do it for you, not because you think it is going to make others laugh. I saw Patch Adams do that once in his clown outfit with a rubber chicken in an Afghani field hospital filled with mutilated and severely injured children. He was being himself, the whole of him, simply sharing himself and he  was beaming, a true lightning rod, a messenger of hope.
If you want to add more laughter into your life, stop asking why. Just do it. And stay true to yourself and who you are.

(1) Read the article “World’s funniest joke unveiled” at http://goo.gl/vOuVN

(2) A great resource for vertical humor is http://www.laughteryogaamerica.com/4fun/mind-body

(3) Read more on humor as a form of aggression at http://goo.gl/KzNpE

(4) In the Osho Mystic Rose program participants are invited to laugh daily for 3h, seven days in a row. Read more at http://www.mysticrosemeditation.com/Pages/mysticrose.html

4 Narcotic-Free Ways to Cope With Dysfunctional Family Holidays

It is interesting to observe how Laughter Yoga slowly seeps into mainstream American culture. In today’s news: 4 Narcotic-Free Ways to Cope With Dysfunctional Family Holidays. 3 are products or supplements. The 4th one is…Laughter Yoga.

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News: (Wisconsin, USA) New Yoga Fitness Trend Focuses on Laughter

“Laughter helps us get through life’s challenges,” said Kueny, wearing a jester hat and a laughter yoga jersey. “It has lots of great benefits. It helps to improve social connections. If you laugh with people, you instantly form a bond. And happy people are easier to get along with.” Mike Kueny has suffered from depression for 10 years but he still laughs nearly nonstop for 45 minutes every Sunday.
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News: Australians Say We Love Laughter Yoga!

Sydney, Australia:  I walked into my first laughter yoga class expecting to see a hippie in a tie dyed shirt and leggings. I did not expect my yoga teacher to be a lawyer. And I certainly didn’t expect to be rolling around on the floor laughing with a bunch of people I’d never met before. But that’s exactly what happened.

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News: NBC29 (Virginia) reports on Laughter Yoga

They say laughter is the best medicine. Combine that with the health benefits of yoga and you have a unique form of exercise that is no laughing matter. An exercise studio in Charlottesville’s ACAC Fitness Center (Virginia) was transformed into a laugh factory Friday.

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Laughter Yoga is a spiritual practice that has the power to help me get everything that I want

Here is my latest working hypothesis: Laughter Yoga is powerful beyond what words can describe, both on a physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual level because it builds its very existence on laughing about nothing (we do not use jokes and do not even try to be or look funny) in the eternity of the present moment where the Divine resides.

Let me explain.

God (or any other word you use to describe what is Divine, far above human consciousness) can be summarized with the numerical number 0 because it is both everything and nothing at the same time, full and empty, the beginning and the end.

God is all about unconditional love, and that’s again all about the numerical 0 because “unconditional” by definition has no condition. It is and it isn’t. It gives and it keeps. It wants everything that you want and cannot say “no” (the challenge of course is on you to be crystal clear on what you really, really want, and that requires that you first take action to get it in the first place). I logically conclude that unconditional love pervades the present moment, here, now. Each time you truly access that space love starts permeating you just like water will whenever you get into a swimming pool.

I choose for this reason to see Laughter Yoga as a spiritual practice that has the power to help me get everything that I want because it helps me get out my mind and into my body.

My body can only exist here, now.

Anchoring myself in the eternity of now through laughter helps my mind to acknowledge, accept and love my present moment as it is. It forces me to take full ownership of my feelings here, now, and therefore of my life, here, now.

There are only 2 things I can do here, now, and they can only happen in the following order. First I must accept everything that I have and love it exactly as it is because it is the only thing that I’ve got. Then and only if I so wish, I have the opportunity to take action to change it, but that can only happen here, now (not tomorrow or the day after).

Laughter Yoga therefore trains me to constantly ask myself: what can I do now, with a positive attitude?

This is of course not the end of the journey (we’re still within the energy field of the numerical 0, neither at the beginning nor the end). It’s only part of the equation.

It is commonly said that laughter will take you half-way home to healing. This is very far, and at some point you will have to walk.

For me mastery of the mind is the ultimate goal, and Laughter Yoga prepares me for that. The mind you can control is a very powerful servant. The mind you cannot control is your worst enemy.

Here is what the 18th century Tamil philosopher and Hindu saint Thayumanavar said on this topic:

“You may control a mad elephant;
You may shut the mouth of the bear and tiger;
Ride the lion and play with the cobra;
By alchemy you may earn your livelihood;
You may wander through the universe incognito;
Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful;
You may walk on water and live in fire;
But control of the mind is better and more difficult”

I am stubborn and actively working on it. Just like Paramahansa Yogananda said: “in the valley of sorrow, a thousand years or so tomorrow. But I’ll wait to see you, only you.” Everything will happen in due time with practice, patience, and lots of perseverance.

Ha, ha, ha.