The other day, as I was perusing Amazon for some good reads, I came across the term “Shukrani” in a snippet of one of the books I was considering. I was immediately drawn to the word, and I liked the way it felt on my tongue and lips as it came out of my mouth when I said it a few times, especially when I added some giggles after saying it. After looking up its meaning, I learned that it is a word in the Swahili language that means “gratitude”. This got me to thinking about the healing properties of gratitude and how it relates to laughter yoga, so down the rabbit hole of research I went, as I often do when something grabs my attention like this.
Gratitude is a potent emotion that humans experience possessing many healing properties; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Scientifically speaking, practicing gratitude results in a powerful cocktail of chemicals and hormones, most specifically serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, being dispersed throughout the body, which are neurotransmitters that make us feel good. In turn, when one takes on different gratitude practices, such as journaling, affirming the things we are thankful for in our lives, meditation, or observation, they increase the chemicals in their body that reduce stress, improve emotional awareness, aid in dealing with anxiety and depression, and help to put life events into perspective. Notice that many of the benefits of practicing gratitude coincide with the benefits of laughter yoga.
Gratitude and laughter go hand in hand. Practicing gratitude increases laughter and laughing increases gratitude. Laughing provides a D.O.S.E (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins) of feel-good chemicals in our bodies and minds in the same way that gratitude does. Hence, it makes sense that they each build upon one another and that they have similar beneficial effects. In the same way that laughter lights up and activates the areas of the brain responsible for positivity and joy, so does gratitude, and vice versa. When we practice laughing or participate in laughter yoga regularly, we increase our capacity for and tendency towards gratitude.
Additionally, both gratitude and laughter can be cultivated. The more one seeks out and becomes aware of the things that they are grateful for, the more grateful of a person they become. Similarly, the more one practices laughter yoga, the more ingrained that laughter becomes in their subconscious mind and the easier it becomes to laugh and experience joy on a regular basis. Confession time: I, myself, was not a big “laugher” before I started practicing laughter yoga, but with regular practice, I can now say with great confidence that I am a true laughter yogi, and laughter comes often and easily to me along with all of the phenomenal feels and benefits that it provides.
This relationship between laughter and gratitude makes for some lovely consequences. Having a hard time feeling grateful? Try a laughter yoga session to increase feelings of gratitude and become more aware of all one has to be grateful for. Having a hard time laughing? Try jotting down some things that you are grateful for to get the chuckles going. We can use each of these wonderfully healing tools to encourage the other, and when used in combination, we’ve got a marvelous formula for restoration, illuminating one’s inner light, and improving one’s physical health, mental state, and emotional well-being.
The next time you are in need of a boost of well-being, a small whisper of “Shukrani” followed by some giggles can work wonders! Practice gratitude and laughter daily, and that temporary lift can become a permanent and wondrous part of your brain’s makeup, your mind’s thought patterns, and your spirit’s joy!
Follow along with my blog and videos to learn more and to experience all of the benefits of laughter yoga for yourself! Check out my events/announcements page for upcoming laughing events and exciting announcements in the laughter yoga realm! Sending love and laughter to all of you!