A Meditation on Laughter

Let's begin by having you close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in and slowly let it out.

Great, give me two more like that.

I want you to recall the last time you laughed deeply, with your whole body.

A deep big belly laugh.

A breathless, unrelenting, tearing up at the corners of your eyes kind of laugh.

Where were you?

Who were you with?

How did it feel in your body?

Was there joy there?

What about love?



Take a few moments to savor this feeling, letting the joy in this memory wash over you.

Now, take another deep breath in, and let it out.

And when you're ready open your eyes. 


Laughter like this is almost always shared laughter (Scott et al., 2014). Laughter is associated with relationship wellbeing (Kurtz & Algoe, 2015). Uncontrollable laughter like this is rare; if it were a frequent thing, we'd have trouble getting things done. That level of levity is fleeting but worthwhile. Recalling it is way to remind ourselves of our capacity for playfulness and joy.


Nehjla Mashal, PhD

Edited by Jordan Jones, LICSW



Glenn, P. (2003). Laughter in interaction (Vol. 18). Cambridge University Press.

Kurtz, L. E., & Algoe, S. B. (2015). Putting laughter in context: Shared laughter as behavioral indicator of relationship well‐being. Personal Relationships22(4), 573-590.

Manninen, S., Tuominen, L., Dunbar, R. I., Karjalainen, T., Hirvonen, J., Arponen, E., ... & Nummenmaa, L. (2017). Social laughter triggers endogenous opioid release in humans. Journal of Neuroscience37(25), 6125-6131.

Neves, L., Cordeiro, C., Scott, S. K., Castro, S. L., & Lima, C. F. (2018). High emotional contagion and empathy are associated with enhanced detection of emotional authenticity in laughter. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology71(11), 2355-2363.

Scott, S. K., Lavan, N., Chen, S., & McGettigan, C. (2014). The social life of laughter. Trends in cognitive sciences18(12), 618-620.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash