They laugh, and teach the world to laugh with them
About 1,000 adults in the United States, Canada, and Mexico have become certified laughter leaders. Their job (though they don't always get paid) is to help people laugh.
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Why does Sadler initiate these almost slapstick comedy routines that tend to embarrass her 17-year-old twin daughters, but evoke plentiful chuckles from her 11-year-old son?Skip to next paragraph
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"My goal is to make sure my son doesn't lose his laugh," Sadler says, citing statistics that indicate children laugh more than 400 times daily, while adults laugh only eight to 15 times a day.
"Somewhere in there we lose our laugh," she says. "And families don't do anything together anymore. I thought if I could get a family to sit down and laugh together as a group, not privately, but as an activity, then maybe I could help kids keep their laugh and the adults to lighten up a bit."
Barbara Hee (yes, that's her real name), founder of the Philly Phun Laughter Club in Philadelphia, recently aimed to get the whole city laughing.
Ms. Hee and four other certified laughter leaders offered free laughter sessions throughout the city during the week of April 25. Even the mayor joined in by officially proclaiming the week Laughter Week.
Hee knows the value of a good laugh. In her previous job in cemetery-plot sales, she faced tough sales goalsand many unhappy people. "This laughter training has been really good for me," she says. "It gave me direction. It got me out of a blah period of my life, a transition period, and helped me to move on."
Linda Marlow of Laugh With Linda in Miami Beach moved onward, too - in a different way. She once took her laughter show on the road. A woman celebrating a birthday with friends hired Ms. Marlow to help them pass time during an hour-long drive in a limousine to a celebratory dinner.
Marlow livened up what could have been a boring drive with interactive laughter exercises that included "limo drive laughter." Guests pretended to be a limo driver who tips his hat and bows, greeting passengers by laughing throughout the process. The women then pretended to steer the wheel with one hand while waving out the window and laughing simultaneously.
"It's very important to me that whatever I do in life has a benefit for people," Marlow says. Not just an activity that she enjoys doing, but something with a benefit to someone on the other end. "Certainly with laughter there are so many benefits."
It may sound as though a laughter club session is all fun and games. Not so. Well, actually it is all fun and games.
But a session, which can range from 10 minutes to an hour, also involves deep breathing, stretching, and guided imagery exercises. And what often starts with an Alo ha ha ha ha ha greeting in Sadler's Jest Laugh Laughter YogaClub classes usually ends in pep rally format. Her three cheers are met by an arm-raising affirmative audience:
"We are the happiest people in the world. Yea! We are the healthiest people in the world. Yea! We love to laugh. Yea!"
Then Sadler exits to the sound of clapping and genuine laughing, knowing that both she and the audience are leaving in a better mood. Yea!