Thursday, April 12, 2012

Laughter and Mirror Imaging

There is fascinating research on the impact of mirror neurons on our ability to socialize and learn. At all stages we mirror the expressions and actions of those we are in relationship with. The universal practice of parents actively eliciting smiles and laughter is a great example of mirror neurons at work (or at play!). Isaiah is our youngest grandchild. His siblings and cousins have smothered him with kisses, hugs and laughter. At 4 weeks he was smiling and responding to their repeated attempts to get him to smile. If you use these same smiling techniques in your everyday life, smiling at strangers, laughing with your family, you will discover these mirror neurons at work. Of course the opposite is true. Negativity and frowns also stimulate the mirror neurons. Purposeful use of smiling and laughter can stimulate the positive energy that is possible through mirror neuron activation.

Laughter yoga groups have become popular in the past few years. These groups were initiated by Dr. Madan Kataria from India who felt that laughter could add to a healthy lifestyle. Research does show that laughter stimulates the release of endorphins and reduces stress.

Next week I will have the privilege of teaching a 3 hour graduate humor studies class called the Humor Academy at the international AATH (Association for Applied and Therapuetic Humor) conference in Chicago. This conference brings together an amazing group of professionals who are dedicated to sharing healthy humor and laughter. People who walk by the doors of our conference sessions always comment that it sure sounds like a lot of fun. The laughter flows spills out from the rooms and into the hallways. Do consider joining us April 19-22 at the beautiful O Hare Westin hotel! CE credits are available for nurses, social workers, counselors, and teachers. Registration is on line at

If you want to reduce stress, add some laughter and experience your mirror neurons at work-do join us! I promise the mirror on your wall will reflect your reduced stress and increased humergy.