Laughing Your Way to Mental Health


Laughter has long been prescribed as a potent medicine, particularly when other treatments fall short of curing the blues. But the old adage, while perpetuated through the generations, is rarely taken very seriously. Recently, a Canadian film director unveiled a piece of documentary work aimed at doing exactly that; exploring the possibilities, both socially and scientifically, of using laughter as medicine. Director Albert Nerenberg presents his film, entitled Laughology, at the Hot Docs film festival taking place this week in Toronto.

The director describes his interest as stemming from a fascination with his infant daughters spontaneous laughter. As babies tend to develop this particular skill around the same stage in development, and the phenomenon is present even in those children with disabilities such as blindness or deafness, Nerenberg decided to explore the brain’s impetus for laughter, as well as the realm of possibilities in terms of treatment. Describing himself and his partner as being depressed upon the birth of their daughter, Nerenberg was intrigued by the child’s propensity for glee despite her parents’ gloominess. Taking their daughter to a group-session laughter-yoga course helped to amplify the positive effects both parents felt from the phenomenon –as well as the good cheer of other class participants, who found it difficult not to join in.

Laughology digs deep into the possibilities of laughter, from exercise and entertainment to the strictly neurological, following the progress of mental health professionals as they artificially stimulate laughter through interacting directly with the brain. Citing that laughing can ease anxiety and create a sense of well-being, not to mention its clearly contagious properties, Nerenberg is well on his way to showing the therapy community that laughter is the best medicine; may not just be an old and tired cliche.


© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Keira


    May 5th, 2009 at 1:40 AM

    I totally believe that laughter is good for the soul. Many times when I am stressed and someone tries to cheer me up..I end up laughing and sometime’s can’t stop. I love the how I feel after I have had a good laugh.

  • marcia


    May 5th, 2009 at 1:56 AM

    I love to laugh and it really helps me as well. Even if you have to revert back to something that made you laugh that was so funny, this would really be worth it.

  • Cecelia


    May 5th, 2009 at 5:17 AM

    I am a born laugher and have never one day of my life had any serious illnesses or sicknesses and this probably proves that many times laughter is indeed the best medicine. Of course I have had days where I have felt bad and maybe not quite myself but I just keep on going about my day, and eventually someone or something will get me laughing and it makes everything just melt away. I know this sounds simple but how will we ever know if this is a tried and true path to wellness if more people are not willing to give it a try?

  • Ellen


    May 6th, 2009 at 1:58 AM

    I have to say I agree with Cecelia. I hardly ever get sick or have major worries and this may too be due to laughter. It seems to make the day so much better for me and so much more stress free and sometime I need to remember this when I have had a hard day at work.

  • Brooklyn


    May 6th, 2009 at 5:05 AM

    Why do you think that most young kids are almost never depressed? They spend a great deal of time laughing and having fun with friends!

  • Alexis


    May 7th, 2009 at 2:45 AM

    Great point Brooklyn. Kids seem not to have any worries at all, always having fun and it’s because they are always laughing. Which I know a lot has to do with being kids and they have no worries, but just watching them have fun and laughing about seems so stress free.

  • Donna


    May 10th, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    A good laugh can cure almost anything! :-)

  • Chloe


    May 11th, 2009 at 2:33 AM

    I actually had a really good laugh Friday at work, and it was wonderful to finally stop being so serious for 10 minutes and let loose with some of my friends who I work with. I can’t remember how long it had been since I laughed that hard and actually felt good the rest of the day.

  • Sara


    May 12th, 2009 at 1:58 AM

    Aahhh.. the good medicine of laughter. I can vouch for what laughter can do and I think it’s a good idea to practice this everyday in our lives.

  • Thomas


    May 15th, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    There are some who never can find a way to work a good laugh into their daily lives- what a shame that is! I agree with everyone else here that laughter is the best prescription for almost anything that goes bad!

  • Patricia


    May 19th, 2009 at 8:58 AM

    It used to drive me insane that my mom could find a way to laugh off anything. But as I have gotten older I now realize the true value of being able to do just that.

  • Felicia


    May 21st, 2009 at 4:13 AM

    You almost have to laugh at some of the things thrown at ya. I try to find some way to laugh at something (which even if it’s at myself after doing something dumb)

  • Judith


    May 26th, 2009 at 3:00 AM

    My mum used to tell me that keeping my baby laughing always would keep her immunity high. I dont know how far this is true. What is amazing is she is 10 years old now and is a very upbeat positive kid. Highly adaptable and definitely not the kind who falls sick often.

  • mesm


    August 13th, 2009 at 5:53 AM

    I heard a similar story recently, even just smiling can improve your mood. I think there is something named the ‘pen method’ or similar, you simply have to grip a pen between your teeth – this forces your face into a smile. You hold the pen there for 10 seconds and you feel better….and it works!!

  • Ganhar Dinheiro

    Ganhar Dinheiro

    August 17th, 2009 at 3:39 PM

    A good laugh can cure almost anything! Congratulations!

  • John


    August 20th, 2009 at 5:56 PM

    I think we are reaching a new age where consciousness is expanding and people are finally realizing the power of their mind, and the effect it has on the body. Laughter and simply being happy in the current moment can go a long way toward mental and physical health. It’s a great time to be alive!

  • Gunther


    November 27th, 2009 at 2:07 AM

    Had a good laugh during reading your article.

  • MedifastCoupons


    November 28th, 2009 at 3:55 AM

    i really believe that laughter is the best medicine. It will ease the problems you have. .that’s why i love to laugh. .:-D

  • Roor Bongs

    Roor Bongs

    December 12th, 2009 at 12:24 AM

    Wow this is a great post. I just lived reading it. It contains so much information. I really enjoyed reading your article and i absolutely loved it….Thank you for posting it and keep up the good work. May God bless you.

  • roville


    February 27th, 2010 at 10:59 PM

    Laughter is still the best medicine. Stress is usually the cause of a lot of inborn disease. We are all born with cancer cells and inborn diseases. Laughter decrease our stress and help our immune system be more tolerant of these diseases.

    So just try to enjoy life and laugh it out even if your life is hard.

  • Bethany


    June 16th, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    yay! I love it!

  • Chad


    June 17th, 2010 at 3:10 AM

    I am a part of a laughter-club in my locality and it is very nice to just go out to the park in the morning,finish off the jogging and then all get together and laugh out loud…I mean it just gets me rid of all the stress and sets my day onto the path to be a perfect one…no morning blues…just pure bliss :)

  • ilan ver

    ilan ver

    June 25th, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    I am a part of a laughter-club in my locality and it is very nice to just go out to the park in the morning,finish off the jogging and then all get together and laugh out loud…I mean it just gets me rid of all the stress and sets my day onto the path to be a perfect one…no morning blues…just pure bliss :)

  • Fatigue


    October 11th, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    Well there is no doubt that laughter is one of the best medicine to keep your mind without any hesitation and tension also.Thanks for your kind information.

  • rahul


    December 2nd, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    I find it quite amusing that just outside my house there is a park and all the members of laughter club are enjoying themselves there at 7.30 in the morning

  • rahul


    December 3rd, 2011 at 2:09 AM

    One question I always wanted to ask How does laughing help the heart

  • Darley


    June 29th, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    I have a pretty stressful job and there is nothing like laughter to help me feel better. I always tell people I work with to find activities and people who make them laugh.

  • apple


    August 6th, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Thank you for this great post. Long live laughter!

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