Laughter Quotient by Merv Neal
Q1. Ways of using laughter as an intervention/therapeutic practice.
There are two main ways that we can use laughter as a tool for health and happiness. The first way is to assist in reducing the symptoms of an illness or to provide some sort of healing. Either way the person is in a bad place and not where they want to be. But what if they can’t move from here? What if the illness is terminal or deemed to be untreatable? Can laughter still help? The answer is yes!
Laughter can be used as…
- A placebo. Merely telling people that laughter has a multitude of benefits, and that it always delivers whatever it is that they need, is therapeutic. Laughter provides a shift and it’s always in a positive direction.
- A distraction. Particularly in the area of chronic pain laughter can help you to forget, if only for a minute or two. The sound of laughter is like someone calling out to you to join them in a state of joy.
- People who are sick don’t have too much, if any, fun. Laughter is fun. When we are having fun we are in the moment. We are not consciously aware of anything that is happening. We are not judging the quality of or why we are laughing.
- People who are sick usually can’t exercise very well. When we use laughter exercises they do so at an emotional, mental, and physical level. Like the two points above they are blissfully unaware of the length and intensity of the amount of exercise they are doing.
- Chemical changer. Laughter produces four major chemicals. They are dopamine (the reward drug), oxytocin (the love drug), serotonin (the stress killer), and endorphins (our body’s natural pain killers). It does it in such a way that the chemical composition and amount are exactly right for what is needed at that particular time.
The second way is when we are using it to promote good health. Laughter can be used as an aerobic exercise program regardless of where you are, what condition that you’re in, what time of day it is, and needs no external equipment.
For this reason we don’t have to schedule a laughter session or exercises. People can do it at their desk while working, walking down the street, in conjunction with another exercise routine, or just by themself.
Q2. The difficulties of researching laughter and a way of introducing a reliable measure.
To date there has been no reliable method to accurately measure laughter. All focus has been on the stimulus to create the laughter rather than the quality and consistency of the laughter. As an example imagine that you are measuring the impact of exercise on depression, and the participants were told to go and do any exercise they liked. Some may go for a walk, others to the gymnasium, others will run a marathon, and others would do a pushup or a squat and call it a day. The research would be discredited instantly due to these variables. Yet this is how every research study on laughter to date has been carried out.
Laughter is like a musical instrument. To play any instrument you need to consider four things…
- How loud in decibels is it?
- Sometimes called tone or quality. Sharp or flat?
- Length of note. Short or long?
- Melody or Tune. A sequence of notes that is musical.
Our body is such an instrument that can produce the sound of laughter. It just has to be played in a way that provides that perfect sound. This is what is more commonly called mirthful or authentic laughter. Authentic laughter is a trained skill that needs to be taught and learned.
Enter the Laughter Quotient.
Q3. Where do we go from here?
The Laughter Quotient is a treatment modality that uses algorithms to find the best fit to deal with the particular illness. It was created to take the variables out of laughter. The Laughter Quotient is L X R divided by V X P. It is the Science of Laughter.
As with the musical instrument analogy…
- L is the length of the laugh in seconds that includes inhalation
- R is the repetition of how much time the person is to laugh for
- V is the level of noise that is produced
- P is the pitch determined by the position of the voice box
To aid this process we can record the perfect laugh for them and their circumstance. With this they can easily identify how their laughter should sound in accordance with the quotient variables.
There is also an App that can provide a visual for the person to check their laughter against. With this they can practice until they get it similar to the laughter sample they are trying to replicate.
And finally there is the ultimate subjective measure of how it feels. Ultimately if it sounds good, and looks good, and then feels good, then it is doing good.
More research needs to be done on the effect of laughter in the absence of humor or outside stimulants, and move towards self induced laughter of a prescribed nature. The Laughter Quotient does this.