“If you laugh, you change . . . “

All learning involves change of some sort, and all change involves learning of some sort. As a learning specialist, I have always been intrigued by this mutuality. However I have not seen the following quotation until now.

“If you laugh – you change; and when you change – the world changes.” – Shilpa Shah


Lilly Fluger: <www.lillyarts.com/html/puzzle025.html> ………………………………………………………………………………………..

This quotation reminded me of the famous book entitled Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins. Published years ago now, Norman was the first person of which I am aware that first brought to my attention the healing powers of laughter.

In Anatomy of an Illness, Norman tells us of his chronic disease from which he could not seem to get any relief from pain. Wikipedia reports that he developed a recovery program incorporating megadoses of Vitamin C along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.

Norman reported: “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter . . . would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”

What has laughter got to do with learning?

Laughter not only releases people from physical pain, it also releases people from emotional pain. Many students in classrooms and children in homes may be in emotional pain of which we may not even be aware. A steady hand on the rudder and a sense of humor as we sail on in life in the classroom and in the home (or in the workplace for that matter) can go far to ease the hidden emotional sore spots and pains.

In critical situations in the classroom or in the home, many a day has been saved by the teacher or the parent seeing the humor in the heat of turmoil, threat or anger. Many an explosive situation has been defused by the adult in the case resorting to humor instead of retaliation or force. This is not easy. With kindness aforethought, it is do-able.

Sometimes, even the student or the child can be the leader, can lead the adult  in seeing the humor that can lighten the load of both.

Of course humor and laughter responses in tough scenarios need to be thought about, practiced, and developed in advance. If we are open to humor and have done some thinking about it, and practicing with it in calm seas, it may arise and bail us out when we least expect it–and most need it–in rough seas.

If good humor and laughter are used as everyday things, practiced as part of the ordinary teaching-learning patterns in classrooms and in homes, they can make a huge difference in learning, both for students and teachers alike.

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”  – Jean Houston

Humor knows no equal when it is used to respond to insults.

Abraham Lincoln [a man with an ugly visage, we are told] was called a “two-faced liar” in a very public forum. He paused a moment, took a deep breath, and responded:

“I submit to you . . .  if I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” The house roared with laughter and the danger was gone.


Doc Meek, May 24, 2010, at Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

P.S.  And finally, for teachers and parents who bear a heavy load, Abraham Lincoln lifts our burdens with these poignant words:

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”

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