You’ve heard the saying, "laughter is the the medicine.” I must say I completely agree. I can immediately think of the people in my life that are "contagious laughers". They find the funny in most any situation and their laughter is so contagious that soon all those around them are laughing too.
My mom is one my favorite contagious laughers, finding humor in so many of life’s situations that it just feels good to be around her. She is the best person to watch a comedy with because her laugh is so genuine and boisterous that before I know it she has the whole room rolling. There are certain movies, (ie. The Three Amigos) that I can only watch with her, because without her they are simply not as as funny.
Contagious laughers are easy to spot. As I was waiting for my order to be called at a local fast food restaurant recently, I observed an employee interacting with customers while sweeping the floor. As he skillfully swept while conversing with the customers, I noticed he continued to smile and laugh in almost every interaction. It was fascinating to observe the energy of the space fill with positivity as he circulated the room. Tables that were sitting stoically began to smile and laugh when he came near. Their whole demeanor changed when this joyful gentleman took the time to say hello, engage in conversation, and bring laughter to an otherwise lackluster dining experience.
One of my favorite childhood movies is Mary Poppins. Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke, is a "contagious laugher". In the movie he works as a kite salesman, chimney sweep, one-man band, and sidewalk chalk artist and finds joy in each one. A scene that demonstrates this beautifully is, “I love to laugh”. While running errands with the children, Mary Poppins learns that something has happened to Uncle Albert. Upon reaching his house, she finds that Bert has already arrived to help. Uncle Albert suffers from a serious condition that is triggered by laughing which causes him to float to the ceiling in uncontrollable laughter. As the children arrive, Bert says to them, “Whatever you do, keep a straight face. Last time it took us 3 days to get him down.” Of course, the more they all tried to keep a straight face the more they laughed and before long had all joined Uncle Albert on the ceiling in laughter and song:
“We love to laugh
loud and long and clear
We love to laugh
so everybody can hear
The more you laugh
the more you fill with glee
And the more the glee
the more we’re a merrier we.”
-Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke
Mary Poppins Soundtrack
Don't those lyrics ring true, though?! Laughter, like smiling, is contagious. When we are around laughter, it’s difficult not to join in. Someone begins to giggle and before long, others are too. There is even scientific research to back it up! In the February 2017 article by Forbes magazine, “Six Science-Based Reasons Why Laughter Is the Best Medicine”, it refers to laughter as a “potent drug with the contagious power of a virus that conveys a slew of benefits for the mind of body.” .Among the benefits listed:
Laughter is a potent endorphin releaser.
Laughter contagiously forms social bonds.
Laughter fosters brain connectivity.
Laughter is central to relationships.
Laughter has an effect similar to antidepressants.
Laughter protects your heart.
Wow! Those are some pretty powerful benefits! I want to be more like Bert and Uncle Albert, fostering a classroom so full of joy from contagious laughter and learning that I can’t get my students down from the ceiling. I want to create learning opportunities that foster laughter...
because.... laughter truly is the best medicine.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.