The Laughter Habit
Make sure your plans are set for “Let’s Laugh Day” on March 19 and “World Laughter Day” on the first Sunday of May.
Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.
Let’s Laugh Day is March 19 and World Laughter Day falls on the first Sunday of May. Atlantan Rachael Siegelman, founder of The Laughter Habit, is ready to enable you to celebrate both occasions. “My mission,” Siegelman asserts, “is to show people how purposeful, playful laughter helps transform stress and negativity into energy and positivity.”
Siegelman began her laughter journey because she wanted to become happier, more positive, and playful, and she asked herself, “Who doesn’t want more zest and liveliness in their life?” She created The Laughter Habit, a program designed to empower people to laugh regularly on purpose and thereby reap all laughter’s benefits.
Inspired by Norman Cousins’ famous book, “Anatomy of an Illness,” in which he cured himself of a debilitating illness with lots of laughter, and by cardiologist Dr. Michael Miller, who, in his book, “Heal Your Heart,” prescribed 15 minutes of daily belly laughs to his coronary patients, Siegelman challenged herself to laugh for at least one minute a day for 40 days. She laughed on camera and posted her progress on social media, inviting others to join her.
Understanding the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of purposeful, lively laughter stimulated Siegelman to learn as much as she could about laughter. She shares that laughing releases “feel good” endorphins in your body that help relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve your mood.
Siegelman currently leads a free, 15-minute Zoom laughter program on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m., in which participants do warm-up exercises and enjoy laughter games designed to trigger contagious laughter. (She has a You Tube channel where a viewer can see several laughter posts.)
Siegelman says, “A person can learn to laugh on cue from a self-directed prompt. Laughter has the power to impact everyday life, maintain an elevated mood, and put you in the driver’s seat of your response to stressors.”
Siegelman assisted her twin sister, Sarah Routman, an established laughter leader and trainer, to create The Laughter Lab at IMEX 2019, the largest event-planning event in North America. Purposeful group laughter is already being employed in select West Coast corporations to build employee camaraderie and boost workers’ moods; plus, making eye contact, smiling, and laughing have the power to change the ambience of potentially uncomfortable one-on-one situations. Siegelman affirms, “There’s a bonus. Laughter is contagious, and others will catch it from you!”
Siegelman can be reached at email@example.com or 678.707.2526.