I dare you to find me a bigger supporter of laughter, and the benefits of laughter, than Copenhagen’s own laughter guru, Thomas Flindt. Thomas travels extensively teaching people how to open themselves up to laughter and how to better their lives through it. Through Thomas and his book, Happy Lemons, I have learned just how powerful laughter can be.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. While Thomas is the biggest laughter advocate I know, he also recognises that laughter can be hurtful. As children, we all experienced being teased or made fun of at some point. Children use laughter to gang up on their peers and pick on others. As adults we become a bit more refined, but laughter is still used to mock others and exclude. When laughter is used to hide hostility or disdain it is not funny. Laughing at the expense of someone else, someone who is not laughing along with you, is assaultive– it creates stress and benefits no one.
Even when it is not done purposefully, we have all experienced the nagging feeling when we hear others laughing and assume they might be laughing at us. This is especially true for people who experienced bullying or teasing a lot as a child. This is one thing which Thomas recognises serves as a barrier to openly sharing in laughter and getting in touch with our laughing selves. We don’t want to make others feel perturbed or paranoid by our open laughter in public spaces.
For these reasons, it is important to use laughter mindfully. Laugh with people, not against them. Use laughter to connect with others, not to build walls. If you find you are laughing too often at the expense of others, put a stop to the habit. Teach children at a young age to do the same and set the right example for them. Dare to step in when others use laughter as a weapon against others. Thomas says that it is important that we do this so that we can share our laughter openly and become in touch with our laughing selves.
Share your laughter with others. Re-visiting funny situations and sharing funny moments or material invites others to laugh with you – it turns a group interaction into a party. It turns a simple e-mail into an exchange of laughter. It builds bridges and establishes connections in a way no other mechanism can.
Laughter is an inexhaustible resource that we all share. As human beings, we are the only species able to laugh from the moment we are born, and that’s pretty cool if you ask me. I am willing to bet that the strong majority of us only use laughter for good, and not to purposefully hurt others. But it is an important reminder of how powerful laughter can be, and like anything that is powerful, it must be used mindfully.
If you would like to know more about the power of laughter and new ways to bring more laughter into your life, check out Thomas Flindt’s Happy Lemons.