During my literary expeditions as a child, I came across this stirring quote by the great Mark Twain – “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter”. At the time, during my formative years as an adolescent, this seemed like a bit of an overreach. Surely, how can laughter be the only weapon?

Thirty years around the sun since then, life has taken me through many curves and bends, peaks and valleys, to realize the potent power of this statement. Laughter is indeed the best weapon of its kind – against depression, sadness, numbness, despair, cruelty, and any negative feelings that threaten to put you down and out. My tryst with laughter has turned my life around. Today, I have earned the distinction of being one of the leading laughter ambassadors, representing India on a global stage.

Being born and bred in Ahmedabad, I have always had a streak of free-spiritedness in me. As I grew up life did throw its share of tough hurdles on my way. In my 20s, my worldview was quite limited and I thought my happiness depended on a partner and being a good, loving, and caring spouse, come what may. As I got married in my mid-20s, I embarked on a new phase of life, looking for togetherness. However, certain situations and ongoing pain led rise to a lot of trauma and pain. Even though I held onto it for seven years, eventually I realized that it was time to let go. I realized that my mental and emotional happiness is of utmost value to me and then it became easier to conclude that painful chapter of my life. Soon after, I moved cities, took a new job, was let go due to the recession, and started my own executive search firm. It has been no cakewalk, but each situation taught me to stand tall, be grateful for the many blessings that life had to offer, and live the next.

As the wise saying goes, “When you take one step, God takes 10 steps toward you”. It was indeed a divine intervention, which led me to discover Dr. Madan Kataria’s laughter videos on Youtube, on a fateful Sunday afternoon. It struck me deep inside my soul, and the deep reservoirs of laughter and joy, which had gathered cobwebs with so many years of neglect, resurfaced. The same night I contacted him, and a month later I did my course and achieved my certification.

My life has never been the same, since that. Steadily, I started doing laughter sessions, started spreading the gifts of unbridled laughter among my friends, peers, children, senior citizens, and even terminally ill patients. At the end of the day, nothing else compares to the thrill of bringing pure, unabashed laughter to someone who really had a tough moment, a day, or even a decade. It helped me understand my power as a woman. Irrespective of age, skin color, orientation, or even so-called ‘standards’ of beauty, it has taught me that each woman is super powerful and strong in her own right.

However, let me tell you, that the great tool of laughter is not only for people who are facing challenging times. Did you know that a hearty laugh releases the much-wanted pleasure hormone of ‘endorphin’ in our body? It helps you relieve physical tension, is a fantastic channel of positive energy circulation, helps you feel sprightly and energetic, and relieves pain and stress. Its greatness reflects in the fact that it helps change your perspective and enables you to take charge of your life.

No matter what experience you go through, you will always have the power to choose. The power to stand up, take a deep breath, break into a smile and have a laugh about it. Go on, try it!

Author Archana Rao is a Laughter Yoga Ambassador and Corporate Wellness Coach heading her company Laughter Yoga India for the past 9 years

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How Laughter Changed My Life: A Journey of Healing and Happiness

During my literary expeditions as a child, I came across this stirring quote by the great Mark Twain – “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter”. At the time, during my formative years as an adolescent, this seemed like a bit of an overreach. Surely, how can laughter be the only weapon?

Thirty years around the sun since then, life has taken me through many curves and bends, peaks and valleys, to realize the potent power of this statement. Laughter is indeed the best weapon of its kind – against depression, sadness, numbness, despair, cruelty, and any negative feelings that threaten to put you down and out. My tryst with laughter has turned my life around. Today, I have earned the distinction of being one of the leading laughter ambassadors, representing India on a global stage.

Being born and bred in Ahmedabad, I have always had a streak of free-spiritedness in me. As I grew up life did throw its share of tough hurdles on my way. In my 20s, my worldview was quite limited and I thought my happiness depended on a partner and being a good, loving, and caring spouse, come what may. As I got married in my mid-20s, I embarked on a new phase of life, looking for togetherness. However, certain situations and ongoing pain led rise to a lot of trauma and pain. Even though I held onto it for seven years, eventually I realized that it was time to let go. I realized that my mental and emotional happiness is of utmost value to me and then it became easier to conclude that painful chapter of my life. Soon after, I moved cities, took a new job, was let go due to the recession, and started my own executive search firm. It has been no cakewalk, but each situation taught me to stand tall, be grateful for the many blessings that life had to offer, and live the next.

As the wise saying goes, “When you take one step, God takes 10 steps toward you”. It was indeed a divine intervention, which led me to discover Dr. Madan Kataria’s laughter videos on Youtube, on a fateful Sunday afternoon. It struck me deep inside my soul, and the deep reservoirs of laughter and joy, which had gathered cobwebs with so many years of neglect, resurfaced. The same night I contacted him, and a month later I did my course and achieved my certification.

My life has never been the same, since that. Steadily, I started doing laughter sessions, started spreading the gifts of unbridled laughter among my friends, peers, children, senior citizens, and even terminally ill patients. At the end of the day, nothing else compares to the thrill of bringing pure, unabashed laughter to someone who really had a tough moment, a day, or even a decade. It helped me understand my power as a woman. Irrespective of age, skin color, orientation, or even so-called ‘standards’ of beauty, it has taught me that each woman is super powerful and strong in her own right.

However, let me tell you, that the great tool of laughter is not only for people who are facing challenging times. Did you know that a hearty laugh releases the much-wanted pleasure hormone of ‘endorphin’ in our body? It helps you relieve physical tension, is a fantastic channel of positive energy circulation, helps you feel sprightly and energetic, and relieves pain and stress. Its greatness reflects in the fact that it helps change your perspective and enables you to take charge of your life.

No matter what experience you go through, you will always have the power to choose. The power to stand up, take a deep breath, break into a smile and have a laugh about it. Go on, try it!

Author Archana Rao is a Laughter Yoga Ambassador and Corporate Wellness Coach heading her company Laughter Yoga India for the past 9 years