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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Have You Ever Been Depressed? A Little Humor Can Go a Long Way

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jan 14th 2013

laughIf you’ve been struggling with any form of the blues or major depression, it may be time for you to hear about something that people are touting as an antidote, Laughter Yoga. While there isn’t currently any peer-reviewed research on this don’t click onto that next URL too quick. Set your judgments aside and open your mind as to the logic of why this might be helpful. 

What is it?

Laughter yoga is a form of physical exercise that has over 6000 social laughter clubs in over 60 different countries. It starts with just starting to laugh, making eye contact and being playful and eventually erupts into real laughter. The underlying philosophy is the body can’t tell the difference between fake laughter and real laughter and the same psychological benefits follow. 

For example, take a look at this video from the BBC and John Cleese and see what you notice:

Did you crack a smile? Maybe laugh? If so, how long did it take? 

There’s something silly about it and depression is quite the opposite. It’s a serious dragging through dark and dreary quick sand. 

Sometimes the antidote to something is finding the opposite of what it is and applying it. 

The verdict is out on the research, but if you look at the sheer numbers of people who are enjoying this exercise, that says something. 

Go ahead, watch the video again, enjoy this moment of freedom. 

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Not humor based - Jeannine - Jan 17th 2013

Thank you for promoting laughter and laughter yoga - they're great for all kinds of wellness and social benefits. I am a certified laughter yoga leader and I also perform stand-up comedy. I would just like to note that there is a difference between humor and laughter yoga. This article's title is misleading. The premise of laughter yoga is to choose to laugh - as an activity or exercise. It is not laughter generated from humor as your title suggests.

Laughter Yoga is still relatlively new in America so I just wanted to make that clarification. It's important that people undestand. Thank you.

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