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Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

The Power of Laughter

Basil Morin, Laughing boy at golden hour, in Don Det (Si Phan Don), Laos
Wikimedia Commons

As far back as Aristotle, people in the western world realized that laughter releases tension. It can even heal "incurable" diseases, as Norman Cousins demonstrated in An Anatomy of an Illness. Most of us know how he activated his body's healing energies by watching old comedy movies in the hospital, taking vitamin C, eating healthy foods, and affirming positive emotions.


His example has given hope to millions and led him from the world of publishing into the healing profession. For years he was a professor at the UCLA medical school, where he shared his good humor and positive approach with students, patients, and colleagues.


Like Norman Cousins, Tao people retain their sense of humor even while facing serious problems. Is this a contradiction? No, it is the way of Tao. Tao people don't  agonize over problems but greet life with courage, joy, and good humor. Laughter brings greater detachment, helps us see life's ironies and recognize the larger whole.


For non-Tao people, life is a constant struggle because they take/themselves too seriously. Tao people can laugh at themselves. The Tao itself elicits laughter because it defies convention. As Lao Tzu tells us:


"When a conventional person hears about Tao

He breaks into loud laughter.

If there were no laughter,      

It would not be Tao."

                        (Tao Te Ching,Chapter 41)


To connect with the power of laughter for yourself, take a moment to close your eyes

Take a long deep breath and slowly release it.

  • Continue breathing slowly and deeply as you ask yourself: "What makes me laugh?  Is it comedy movies, YouTube videos, joking with friends, playing with a kitten or puppy? Something else?"
  • Now recall a time when you were filled with the joy of laughter.
  • Feel that joy now as you smile and let the feeling flow through your being.

And as you gently open your eyes, ask yourself how you can connect with more joy and laughter in your life.


Enjoy the process and the path.


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