I’ve got the T-shirt, the clown nose, and a rainbow colored diploma to prove it.
Drumroll please…. I’m a certified laughter leader.
Need a good belly laugh on your lunch hour? I can get you going. Want to dissolve in laughter till you fall off your chair? I can officially assist. Need some music to go with your laughter? I can sing the World Laughter Tour Anthem. By heart.
This transformation from ordinary guffaw-er to certified laughter leader did not come easy. To earn this distinction, my friend Amy and I had to belly-laugh our way through more than two days of serious training. We clapped. We danced. We threw our arms in the air and yelled, “Yay!!!!”
We were in good company. Twenty others from around the U.S., Canada and even Sweden flocked to the workshop led here last month by Steve Wilson, Columbus psychologist and founder of the World Laughter Tour.
“Laughter is serious business,” Wilson explained, as we giggled like school children and stuck tiny yellow smiley faces on our foreheads. “It puts us back in balance when we’re facing increasing amounts of stress.”
To feel-good music, he packed us full of medical evidence that mirthful laughter does the body good from head to toe, and shared his hope that by spreading good-hearted laughter around the world, we can promote world peace.
“He’s so right,” my ever-ebullient friend declared, as we pawed through tote bags filled with fun favors, like happy face necklaces filled with bubbles, kazoos and even red heart-shaped paper clips that said “Take this job and love it.”
As we were pawing, Wilson was instructing us to tell anyone who asked that we were feeling “Incredible!” And if they asked why, to say, “Because I’ve lowered my standards.”
But then we got to the best part – laughter exercises we can lead for people who want to form a laughter club or just enjoy an occasional break.
A wannabe cheerleader from way back, I couldn’t wait to clap and break into the signature Laughter chant, with dance moves.
Ho ho Ha ha ha!
Ho ho Ha ha ha!!
Ho ho Ha ha ha!!!
“It’ll be easy!” I told Amy, as we revved up imaginary lawnmowers and laughed,, shot imaginary bows and arrows and laughed, and jostled each other, laughing, on an imaginary New York subway ride.
It was easy till we took a break for lunch and tried to remember it all.
“Just practice, practice, practice,” Wilson had said. “You’ll get it.”
But before we had a chance to practice, we were on to the laughing Macarena, the Ants in the Pants dance, and the Alohahaha greeting.
Unfortunately, by the time I got home, I felt like I did when my husband and I thought we’d learned the tango at Arthur Murray. I couldn’t remember if we were supposed to go Ho ho Ha ha ha! Or Ha ha Ho ho ho! Much less, the words to the Laughter Tour Anthem.
“How’d it go?” our daughter wanted to know as I jumped in the front door wearing.my Certified Laughter Leader T-Shirt and yelled, “Yay!!!!”.
“Incredible!” I said.
Unfortunately, she didn’t ask why, so I couldn’t tell her I’d lowered my standards. But I think she figured that out after I careened around the living room a couple of times with a runaway lawn mower.
She didn’t say much at first, but she was laughing. Laughing!
“You just need a little practice,” she said.
She’s absolutely right. Practice, practice, practice I must. And that’s where readers come in. Anyone who’d like to help push an imaginary lawnmower, just e-mail me to sign up for a free laugh-in. We’ll all be incredible. I promise. No joke.