During the time I was struggling to believe in myself, I started attending a laughter club in Tempe. I didn’t know what to expect, but when my friend Joan told me about it, I knew I needed to find out. It sounded intriguing and fun! I needed more fun in my life! Family members had been sick, I’d been sick and just in the house for what seemed like weeks. I was also at a stand still on my book, so I needed to get out of the house. I need to point out that I believe in the message of my book. I simply doubted myself and the ability to publish the book.
Meanwhile, I went to the laughter club and had the time of my life!! I became a laughter junky! It doesn’t solve problems, but it helps take you away from it temporarily. It helps to release some of the stress of life. In fact it helps to put a different perspective on how bad things are when you can take a minute to laugh a bit. I wish I had known about laughter clubs back when I was struggling with mental illness.
At the laughter club, we do exercises that help to reduce stress by inducing laughter for no reason. We laugh, say our mantra “ho ho ha ha ha”, make eye contact with the other members, and dance depending on who is leading the group. I was able to come out of my shy shell by attending the laugh club. I don’t feel as socially inept and lonely anymore. I can let down my hair, be silly, and be myself! I love to laugh now but I will never forget the darkness of depression I once lived in.
It’s my hang out place. People hang out at coffee shops, bars, churches, clubs, and other social places. They go where they feel comfortable and it’s their “thing”. Well, laughter club is my thing! I do other “things” as well but this is my most comfortable place. It reminds me of the line in the Cheers theme song where it says, “you wanna go where everybody knows your name.”
In May, the laughter club celebrated World Laughter Club. I bought some red noses to wear for the day. I met with other club members at a lite rail station. The intent was to share the benefits of laughter while riding the rails. Before we got on the train, we did some warm up exercises. Someone took pictures and video taped a little blurp of it with their cell phone.
At first, I was a little stiff and it was hard for me to let my hair down in front of all these other people. I wasn’t in a room full of people with my gang of laugh buddies but out in public being silly! People might laugh or stare! So I was clapping with the others, saying our “ho ho ha ha ha” mantra and a little dance, but I needed to loosen up. I told myself, “You’re either in it all the waya or not!”
So I started clapping, dancing, smiling and singing no matter what! I was very passionate sbout it and it made a big difference. I smiled and waved at perfect strangers. I was totally out of my element, but you know it was very liberating! I overcame that fear! It didn’t matter who was watching. Actually it did matter who was watching. That was the whole idea! Yeah we looked silly, we looked crazy, but it didn’t matter we were happy! We were happy to be sharing the message of the benefits of laughter. That’s what believing in yourself can do for anyone. It’s being passionate about what you want, and being “all in” without reservations or hesitation. It’s giving yourself permission to “just do it” as Nike says.
I’m very interested in becoming a laughter leader now. It will take some training and yes going to the next level. The next level is doing it without following someone else’s lead. It’s where I’m doing it on my own and leading others into it. I’m so looking forward to that day!
Everyone knows that laughter is good medicine, but how often do we do it? There are laugh clubs all around the world and skype groups as well. If you’re not connected with one, and would like to google it and I’m sure you’ll find one. Some of them advertise on meetups.com. Believe in yourself. Love yourself! Get out there and do what you love. Take a break from the work, problems and laugh! Ho ho ha ha ha!!!