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Laughter Linked to Health, Happiness


There's an old saying that laughter is the best medicine. No matter whether it's triggered by a good joke, a cute child or pet, or a pie in the face of a comedian, the simple act of laughing offers therapeutic benefits. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and help people lose weight. It's a special tonic for older people, who are prone to loneliness and sad thoughts.

In fact, in more than 1,000 American communities, and a couple thousand more around the world, entire clubs have been formed so that people can get together and yuk it up! U.S. clubs have names like "Laugh-a-holics," "the Ha-Ha Spa," "Granite State Giggles," and "Judy's Joyful Laughter Club."

The idea started in India, where laughing is an oral yoga exercise using discipline, mind power and a good belly laugh.

Laughter is certainly contagious. Only a determined grouch could avoid at least smiling when others around him are laughing till it hurts. That's why members of laughing clubs don't just get together to howl with laughter themselves. They meet on street corners, in train stations, and other public places, laugh their fool heads off, and invite everyone around them to join in.

Laughing clubs have become so popular that one can even get training as a "certified laughing leader." And the key qualification? You have to be really good at laughing, chortling, chuckling, howling, snickering, cackling, tittering, giggling and sniggling.