University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Laughter Circles

Health Education will be offering Laughter Circle sessions to students throughout the academic year. Some sessions will also be offered to faculty and staff. Contact the Health Education Coordinator to schedule a session at 860-486-0772.

World Laughter Tour

What happens in a Laughter Circle Session?

Members of the circle gather at regularly appointed times in a designated place to take part in laughter exercises and other activities that encourage playfulness, fun and mental balance. The sessions are lead by a Certified Laughter Leader™. The participants enjoy the social as well as the physical experience. There are discussions of the benefits of laughter and the concepts of sensible living that lead to healthy attitudes.

Laughter circle sessions are organized around a systematic program. In addition, each session will include some discussion of the principles of Good Hearted Living™.

Laughter Program Goals:

  • To increase awareness about attitudes and feelings towards laughter
  • To increase knowledge about the benefits of laughter
  • To provide an opportunity for individuals to laugh
  • To promote more laughter in everyday life

How did Laughter Circles get started?

There are many gurus of laughter in India, it is an ancient practice there. Many years ago, Osho Rajneesh envisioned club-like groups getting together to laugh. Around 1995 Dr. Kataria noticed the negative effects of stress and pollution on many of his patients. He was editor of a health magazine called “Your Own Doctor” and he decided to write an article about how laughter might be the best medicine. He then decided to get people laughing. He borrowed breathing and stretching exercises from yoga and combined them with laughter using various gestures. Soon Dr. Kataria had a laughter workout and many people enjoyed it and felt better doing it.

Laughter Circles were introduced to the United States after the founder of World Laughter Tour, Steve Wilson, visited Bombay in 1998 and met Dr. Kataria. During the session Mr. Wilson became inspired to bring these techniques to North America. The first officially recognized laughter circle in the United States was chartered in June 1999 in Orville, Ohio.

Laughter Heart

Benefits to College Students

According to the American College Health Assessment Survey in the fall and spring of 2006, 118,669 students stated that the #1 impediment to academic performance was stress. Some students experience an adjustment period in college, while learning the techniques that work in this environment rather than what worked in high school. Other students have difficulty being away from home or adjusting to their campus. Many students are also trying to excel in their classes for for a competitive Grade Point Average (GPA). Still some students are stressed with the cost of school and trying to manage a job along with collegiate career. Whatever the reason that students are experiencing stressors; laughter can be used to decrease stress, anxiety and tension. Laughter also increases mental functioning such as alertness, creativity and memory. Students can use laughter circles for a positive outlet to experience humor and fun.

Five Things That Happen In A Laughter Circle

  • A session of breathing exercises and various types of simulated laughter actions
  • No jokes are used
  • Eye contact helps to enhance and stimulate laughter
  • All members laugh at the same time, the group supports the members and inhibitions may melt away
  • A playful experience

Five Things Laughter Can Do For People

  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Vibrates muscles
  • Creates good cardio-vascular effects
  • People who laugh together work better together
  • Relieves stress and prevents negative tension

Anyone can participate in a Laughter Circle however; there are medical precautions that people should be aware of if they are making a decision to become involved in a session. This list is not exhaustive and individuals may want to consult a physician before attending a session. While the benefits of laughter can offer healing both physically and mentally please be aware of the following conditions:

  • Cold & Flu
  • Hernias
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Heart Disease with Chest Pain
  • Late Stage of Pregnancy

Good-Hearted Living Practices

The Good-Hearted Living program is to use daily practices as antidotes for attitudes that rob individuals of laughter. People can incorporate these practices even if they haven’t attended a laughter circle. The thoughts convert to actions; the actions to habits; and, the habits become a normal way of life. Over time, day by day, a person may feel less critical, more open-minded, more generous, less angry, more grateful, kind, tolerant, and joyful. This is an important part of the laughter circle’s systematic approach to regaining our spontaneity and peace of mind through laughter and a balance of mind, body and spirit.

Here are the Good-Hearted Living practices:

  • Monday is for compliments—today is a day to give compliments to others and practice accepting compliments gracefully.
  • Tuesday is for flexibility—try something new by parking in a different parking lot or walking a different route on campus.
  • Wednesday is for gratitude—record or think about the best compliment ever received or a beautiful place visited or people who are in our lives.
  • Thursday is for kindness—practice random acts of kindness either deliberately or anonymously.
  • Friday is for forgiveness—write down a hurtful experience and practice letting it go; try to practice letting go of anger or resentment.
  • Weekends are for chocolate—find time for oneself to play or explore something fun and positive over the weekend.

Please feel free to mix it up and practice any of the Good-Hearted Living practices on other days than what is stated above. It is important to not be a perfectionist about this process. For more information about these practices please read the book Good-Hearted Living by Steve Wilson.

Information provided and used with permission by ©2000-2008 World Laughter Tour, Inc