Laughter is a universal, natural phenomenon shared around the world in the lives of human beings. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, where you came from, or how you were raised, you know how to laugh.
Let’s be real, human babies are pretty well useless at birth. We can breathe, eat and poop: very basic survival instincts. But, laughter is just one of those things wired in the human brain that we know how to do since our very first breath.
Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from India, is commonly referred to as “The Laughter Guru” or the “Guru of Giggling” by outlets such as The London Times. Kataria devoted years of his life to researching the effects of laughter. Kataria says laughter is a stress buster, an analgesic, an aerobic exercise, a fighter against cancer and tumor cells, diabetes and cholesterol issues, a gene regulator, and can result in improvement on the cardiovascular system and overall immunity.
No wonder one of our natural instincts is to laugh.
But what an odd thing laughter is: a tangle of weird breathing, obnoxious sounds, honks, snorts and squeals, a contraction of muscles, and sometimes a leakage of bodily fluids. Yet, is feels amazing. Think about it for a second. This overwhelming feeling takes our body to insane measures of reactions, and something inside of us lifts our spirits in a way that is contagious to those around us.
So, I set off on the journey of laughter. I was seeking new and exciting ways to find joy in my life and share it with my readers. I was unaware of the laughter movement that has already begun around the world: laughter yoga, laughter telephone hotlines, and laughter clubs have taken millions to new and improved lifestyles and overall health.
I thought I would try a laughter hotline. Listen to some weirdos force noises over the phone to one another in an attempt to release endorphins in their brains and stimulate a sense of happiness that results in overall better health. Sure, why not?
So I called the line that has so many reviews all over the internet, and began with The Laughter Guru himself. Laugholution with Melanie R. sounded like a good time, so I found myself at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night looking forward to laughing with this friendly looking stranger.
“We’re sorry, the number you have dialed cannot be reached from your line.”
What?! No way! I could actually hear the sound of glass shatter as my heart sunk in my chest.
I jumped to my laptop, frantically searching google for another number to call, but each and every website leads back to this same general line.
I was actually pissed off.
I thought maybe it was just my phone provider, so I set off to try a friend’s phone the following night.
As I was driving over, I felt myself feeling a little bummed. Things seemed to be going so great this week, and there I was hitting a metaphorical wall with this laughter hotline, as silly as that may sound.
I get to my friend’s house, and he informs me I have to be quiet, so I could only use his phone if I went in my car to do the call. Thanks buddy, let’s make me look even more creepy and alone why don’t we?
So I found myself alone in my car, a single light clicked on above me, praying that the line will connect.
“Welcome to the conference centre, a service offered by www.nocostconference.com Please enter your conference ID followed by the pound key”
I was so nervous, yet so excited.
“Thank you, please hold while we validate your conference ID.”
A chipper songs begins to play.
“Conference ID accepted. If you are the moderator press the star key now. Otherwise, please hold.”
The song continues.
“You are the only participant in this conference.”
And just like that, my smile swept away and I felt my face instantly droop in disappointment.
What?! Melanie, where are you?
I waited, and waited, and that chipper song soon made me want to throw my phone out the car window.
Wow, I could not believe how crappy I felt. This was supposed to be some silly thing I did to tell funny stories about later on. But there I was, desperate for some stranger to join this call and laugh abruptly with me for no reason. Is it totally pathetic that I have been thinking about this all week? Is it ridiculous that I was actually really excited to laugh for no reason to no one in particular? I guess maybe I just wanted to be a part of something. Maybe I wanted to feel something unknown, something irregular from my day-to-day life, something that I didn’t understand. And there I was, alone in my car, with the one little light shining in my eye, feeling like shit.
So I tried again, and Melanie failed to join the call, again.
A couple days later I went for Happy Hour Laughter Group Call with Kevin at 8 p.m.
“You are the only participant in this conference.”
Fine. Maybe the laughter hotline thing just was not meant to be. I did some more research and found a laughter yoga class in Hamilton. Advertised for every Sunday it said, “be prepared to have the happiest day of your life, so far! Bring water and your child-like spirit.” I thought that sounded absolutely wicked, how perfect. So I called in to confirm my attendance. They didn’t offer the class that Sunday.
I guess I wasn’t destined to laugh with strangers and tell you all how weird it felt, but instead, you get to see how weird I am for having this strange desire to laugh with random people. But also, you get to see how much laughter truly does affect a person, even just the absence of laughter takes its toll on your mental well-being. Now, I shall leave you with the proposition of laughing with a random stranger this week. Because, why the hell not?