Laughter is good not only for your mood but also for your health. By teaching people to laugh for no reason, laughter therapist Lise Hansson, from Skedala near Halmstad in the southwest of Sweden, helps people increase their creativity.
"Just look at little children. They often laugh without anyone trying to entertain them. When two little kids meet they often just run around and laugh," says Lise Hansson.
In lectures and practical exercises, she helps people laugh, giving them a more positive outlook.
"Laughter helps when you feel bad. It's not healthy to take oneself too seriously," she says.
Lise Hansson lectures for people in marketing and college students. She is happy to show how laughter can be a source of inspiration and creativity.
"We have 50,000 thoughts each day, most of which are 'reruns'," she says.
Laughter is helpful by lowering the brain's temperature and facilitating communication between its hemispheres. Circulation is increased, blood pressure is lowered, and the heart gets a workout. Endorphins, the body's own opiates, are released, which relieves pain and gives a sense of well-being. Furthermore, Lise says, the immune system is strengthened, and the inner organs get a massage.
Active and conscious laughter is a way to become happy, as opposed to what we're used to: using humor to bring out the laughter.
Laughter therapy comes from laughter yoga, created by Madan Kataria in Mumbai, India. After writing an article in a medical journal about the healthful effects of laughter, he was inspired to develop various methods for laughter. These are now practiced in 5,000 "laughter clubs" in more than 50 other countries around the world, according to Kataria's website, http://www.laughteryoga.org
Lise learned to laugh during a couple of short classes, one of which was held in Denmark by Madan Kataria himself. Different methods of laughing are the greeting laugh, the dog laugh, the old man laugh, the elephant laugh, the lion laugh, the penguin laugh, and the silent laugh.
"Some people, mainly young women, are not comfortable with this way of laughing," Lise says. But most that join her in the laughter exercises are having a blast.
We often make things needlessly complicated when we want to have fun, when we can just stand up and laugh.
She has heard stories from older people that if you go back to the 1950's there was more laughter in Swedish society. Lise thinks that it has decreased because people are too busy, and, as a result, they get lonely.
People who laugh tend to come in contact with their emotions. Sometimes an individual with a big emotional burden who started laughing in a class has broken down and cried, according to Lise.
"The more you laugh, the more you cry. Your emotional range becomes wider, and it becomes easier to look inside to get an overview," Lise says.
"I need the laughter exercises myself. They give so much back, and I really enjoy being surrounded by all these happy people," Lise says.