Laughter for the Mind: Do You Think Too Much?
By Lynn Shaw, MSW
"When we begin to think, instead of respond, we stop laughing."
~ Annette Goodheart, Ph.D., author, Laughter Therapy
If it is true that we think over 50,000 thoughts a day, and if it is true that of those
50,000 thoughts, 40,000 thoughts are the same as yesterday's, then why wouldn't we want
to clear our thoughts? Yet, in today's multi-task thinking world, people are thinking
and living from their head and often ignoring a wonderful place to live-from their laughing heart.
In the past week, how many people have told you that you think too much? Now consider,
in the past week, how many people have told you that you laugh too much?
While working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, I remember the staff meeting when I
heard disturbing news and a profound statement. The executive director had announced that
the company was in bankruptcy reorganization - and we would remain open... for now.
As the news penetrated and the air in the room grew anxious, the executive director offered
assurances that the reorganization would be beneficial. As I sat thinking... and
thinking... and thinking, I felt my adrenalin surge creating a rapid pulse,
constricted throat, and clenched hands. My mind whirled with thoughts and questions. What
if there are layoffs? What if the bankruptcy is denied reorganization status? What if....
what if.... what if?
Cutting through my spinning thoughts, I heard Alan, a colleague, quietly say,
"The mind is a powerful tool. It can either help us or hurt us. We choose."
As Emeril, the gourmet chef, would say, "BAM!" and the profound statement took
hold. The spinning thoughts halted, my breathing returned, and I understood exactly what
Alan was saying. The mind as a tool can either work toward repair or toward chaos.
Does your mind help you or hurt you?
Dr. Annette Goodheart, author of Laughter Therapy, states that, "the first major myth
about laughter that prevents us from laughing as much as we need to is that we must have a
reason to laugh." Reasoning is powerful and helpful. It helps us solve daily problems,
discern information, and create a plan of action. But when it comes to laughter and enjoying
the experience of laughter, reasoning can be hurtful. We censor ourselves because we THINK
too much about the laughter.
Have you ever been in a restaurant and heard a group of people spontaneously laugh so loudly that
patrons stop with forks in mid-air to look? The reasoning part of your mind says, "What's so
funny?" The spontaneous part of your mind says, "I want to laugh, too!"
It is impossible to laugh and think at the same time.
You may think you're thinking when you're laughing because thoughts come quickly after
laughter. It's really the heart that releases the flow of laughter and allows thought to
stop. Need a break from thinking? Access your laughing heart.
How do you get started laughing?
Be intentional about enjoying the sounds of laughter. Start now! On the count of three,
place your hands over your belly and say HA, HA, HA! Feel the belly muscles contract?
Your mind was working for you to signal the muscles to contract. Yes, a helpful mind.
Repeat this until your own spontaneous laugh begins? Enjoy your helpful mind!
Challenge yourself to spend 10 minutes every day letting your mind help you laugh out
loud! Smile while thinking about laughing. Remember, the heart releases the flow of
laughter, and the energy flows from the heart soaring on the sounds of laughter.
Copyright © 2003 Lynn Shaw. All rights reserved. If you are interested in publishing this article, please email .
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About Lynn's Laugh Therapy e-course
Explore the theory of laughter therapy and apply it to your life to boost your immune system
and relieve tension.
- Examine how much you "think" daily and be guided toward a "state of
being" versus a "state of thinking" by learning to find the "Tee Hee"
in the moment.
- Discover how laughter can help reduce symptoms of allergies, abdominal pain and
digestive problems -- to name a few -- and help you manage anger and fear.
- Learn of the relationship between laughter and tears, and the role of both in healing grief.
- Link the spirit of laughter to your spiritual health.
- Finally, learn to embrace your uniqueness and share your laughing spirit with others for
years to come.
About the Author
Lynn Shaw, MSW, is an educator with a heart for laughter. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker
specializing in therapeutic laughter, Lynn offers practical applications and deep insights
from her 20+ years of experience as a speaker, trainer, and psychotherapist.
Lynn is a frequent presenter for conferences, associations, businesses and the founder of
"Laughter for Life!" SM
She also authored the book
Tee Hee Moments
As past president of the Indiana chapter of the National Speakers Association, Lynn knows the
value of education and welcomes the opportunity to share her learning experiences. Her Web site is