The New College Course of the Future Gelotology 101 (The Study of Laughter): A Perquisite is Laughing for No Reason.

Health & Fitness

  • Author Dr. Gene Haynes
  • Published December 15, 2020
  • Word count 4,192

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The New College Course of the Future Gelotology 101 (The Study of Laughter): A Perquisite is Laughing for No Reason.

Ed.D Haynes, Gene.

1 Training Manager

2 Adjunct Instructor

3 Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher

4 Ed.D Educational Leadership and Management, Capella University

Abstract— There is a new elective course needed in all colleges. Gelotology 101 (The study of laughter) it is course designed as a certification in what is known as Laughter Yoga. The course is a fun interactive course that does not use jokes or comedy. It is a course that engages students to use fake laughing that becomes contagious and real laughter. The course teaches students how to reduce stress through laughter. It also educates students how to start their own laughter programs in their professions. The growing body of research proves there is a need for colleges to implement this course as part of any college curriculum.

Index Terms— Gelotology, Laughter Yoga, Stress Reduction, Edutainment, Curriculum, Elective Course.

I. INTRODUCTION

Gelotology has played a role in health improvement for many years. Most of its significance in the health field was unrecognized. Today the growing body of research has led to the development of a capstone project that proves studying gelotology can play an important role college curriculums. According to Steinberg (2016), every day we must change, innovate and re-think learning. Amazon, Google, and Apple are companies that have used this approach to become successful. Companies in any industry can become successful if they follow this method. The gelotology course is an example of change by offering something new and innovative. The course is built upon existing practices and the course re-thinks learning by its interactive exercise which is different than traditional courses. The course on gelotology is like no other college course. It involves laughing and child-like playfulness in every class.

Today, businesses thrive on innovation; in a competitive market, it is innovation that is the key to an organization’s survival. Almost every year various companies strive to be on top. To be number one and gain as much market share as possible, a company must constantly seek new ways of conducting business. The design of a course on gelotology is an example of thinking outside of the box and thinking innovatively in a rapidly changing world. The course on gelotology is innovative because it is something new and different than the traditional courses offered at the college. The assignments, lesson plans, group work, and class activities; are designed to create a unique course that educates students on a practice that is not offered in many colleges.

The uniqueness of the course is designed to make class fun and interesting to students. At the same time they will learn how something as simple as laughing can have an affect on stress.

According to Ting and Lee (2012), several authors cited the importance of offering elective courses of interest to students. The more interest students have in the content, the greater the impact on student learning. According to Morreall (2014), education is supposed to be preparation for life. It should foster the intellectual and personal attributes needed to be a successful, well-rounded human being, but traditional education either ignores or actively suppresses one of the most important of these attributes – humor. The new course on gelotology includes humor and provides students with new tools to help cope with stress.

II. Background

"Yoga" is derived from a Sanskrit root word ‘Yuj’ (join), hence "yoga" means and includes, joining of the body, mind and the ‘Self’(soul)” (Setty, Pailoor, and Mahadevan, 2016, p. 89). Yoga promotes self-knowledge and understanding.. Having this understanding will allow the individual to cope with the daily stress of everyday life. Through its practice people have been able to live a more refreshing life, filled with happiness and good health. As an exercise yoga has been able to help heal the body and reduce stress. Galantino, Bzdewka, Eissler-Russo, and Holbrook (2004) conducted a pilot study of participants with lower back pain. Results found that participants experienced a decrease in disability and stress; and an increase in flexibility. Over time yoga has transformed into an exercise that originated from ancient rituals.

Yoga is a practice that many have used for centuries. The history of yoga dates back to ancient religious text that describes techniques of yoga. According to Kumar and Aanand (2015), it is believed to have originated in India. Some date yoga back 3000 years. Ancient stones show carvings of people in yoga poses. Many years ago, it was believed that people worked long hours and needed time to rest. The rest allowed their bodies to relax and regain its energy. As people rested in these ancient times, they discovered the harmonious effects of sitting still. The mind body and soul connection became a tradition that many used as a way to remove themselves from their busy lives. While there are many different forms of yoga. The most popular categories of yoga divided into four broad sections the vedic period, pre-classical, classical and post-classical. Each of these periods has evolved over time changing yoga into many different forms.

Today, the United States became one of the biggest markets for Yoga. The recognition of yoga received attention, the United Nations General Assembly has declared June 21st International Yoga Day. People all over the world celebrate this day by honoring the traditions that have been practiced for centuries. The actions of yoga help to reduce stress and improve the mind body and soul through relaxation. As yoga developed over the years, new forms of yoga were created.

Gelotology is a term coined in 1964 by Edith Trager and William Fry. The practice was formed from the Greek root gelos (to laugh) Butler (2014). Madan Kataria, a general practitioner in India,

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coined the term laughter yoga in 1995 while researching an article he was writing for a health magazine (Kataria, 2002). Kataria began the first laughter club at a park in Mumbai, India, and these laughter clubs have now spread worldwide. Laughter yoga combines laughing with the yogic breathing exercises used in yoga. What makes laughter yoga different is that it involves laughing followed by periods of meditation. There are no jokes, humor or comedy used. Research has found that the body does not know the difference between real laughter and fake laughter. Kataria developed this concept to trick the mind into happiness. The process of fake laughing releases endorphins into the blood stream causing a chemical reaction to reduce stress. Kataria’s movement is established through the development of free laughter clubs.

Participants attend the free clubs to laugh, learn about gelotology and reap the health benefits of the saying laughter is the best medicine. According to Khatchadourian (2010), Kataria concentrated his energies on promoting the therapeutic and health benefits of his exercises. The works of Kataria started in India and have now spread worldwide. According to ‘Yoga,’ (2011), laughter yoga is practiced in 60 countries.

In India, Kataria conducted exercises in maximum security prisons, at schools for homeless children, and at institutions for the blind. He encourages his acolytes to share laughter yoga in similar venues. According to Butler (2014), Fry published studies of the physiological processes that occur during laughter supporting the claim that laughter is equivalent to exercise. Wagner, Rehmes, Kohle, and Puta (2014) conducted a study comparing the activation of trunk muscles during laughter yoga in comparison to exercises such as crunching and back lifting exercises. Results found that during the highest intensity of laughter yoga, the action of the laughter was comparable to those produced by traditional exercises. Therefore, not only is laughter yoga a great method for stress reduction, but it is also a form of physical exercise.

III. The Need for a Gelotology Course

Laughter therapy is a something that can be taught to students in a college setting.. According to Dolgoff-Kaspar, Baldwin, Johnson, Edling, & Sethi (2012), instructors can be certified through Laughter Yoga International. The founder of the organization, Dr. Madan Kataria trains individuals in the laughter therapy principles (Dolgoff-Kaspar, et al, 2012). After students complete the course on laughter yoga, they can pursue more education about the program to enhance their skills. Currently this training is available outside of academia, however there is a need to expand this within college curriculums. Students will learn a new skill in a collaborative space and gain new knowledge to apply to their profession and personal lives. The new course would teach students leadership abilities by helping students to learn how to design programs on gelotology which can be applied outside of the classroom. e.g medical students could use what was learned in the course to help patients recover. A business could also benefit by starting a laughter program at their work place to reduce employee stress.

A new course on gelotology can help bring about change within academia and the allied health field. According to Grogan, Donaldson, and Simmons (2007), leaders who can challenge accepted methods have the most chance of promoting learning for their members. Taking the initiative to identify problems and develop solutions shows a leader’s ability to take action and solve complex problems. The course on gelotology is a

practice that more nurses need training on as laughter therapy gains recognition in the allied health field.

IV. Problem Described

The design of the new course helps the institution review new content and innovative ideas that may bring about change. As one of the faculty at a for profit college, the design of the new course is a suggestion to help meet the needs of students as observed during sample laughter sessions during class time. As a faculty member that teaches freshman students, often students complain about the elective courses offered by the college. Seeing this as a problem led to the development of a new course to address the students complaints about the current curriculum. The changes that would occur consist of the following:

  1. An additional elective course

  2. An innovative course of interests to students

  3. A unique course that is not offered at other colleges

  4. New knowledge to medical professionals as part of a growing body of research

  5. A one of a kind course offering that may attract new students

  6. Educate students on new career choices

  7. Additional content to be added to the students' portfolio

What is most important is that the new course will create a change to your institution by offering a one of a kind course that is not offered at other colleges. A literature review indicates, there is a lack of nurse education in the field of alternative therapies such as gelotology. The course can help to attract new students seeking to learn more about laughter and how it can help improve the quality of life of patients. ‘Academic Programs’ (2014) states the importance of institutions to maintain and achieve financial success. By continuous improvement, colleges will build its brand of keeping up with the changes in healthcare and academia. According to Papandrea (2014), Mount Ida College used a different approach to branding by highlighting its academic programs vs. the institution as a whole.

The development of a new program will allow the colleges to market its new program to new students and possibly use this new approach to branding. O’Brien and Deans in Ting and Lee (2012) stated the importance of students being more diverse within their education. Employers prefer graduates who have diverse skills vs. being too narrow and focused on their majors. Electives give students the opportunities to learn additional skills which can make them more marketable when they are seeking employment. The approval of a new course on gelotology would allow the colleges to teach students new skills that help to enhance their skills and their portfolios. Students are awarded certificates at the completion of the course, which could also be placed into the student's portfolio. According to d'Erizans and Bibbo (2015) After the term is over, students typically take the contents they have learned and either dispose of it or place the items in storage. Without much thought or reflection, the student does not realize how the content could be used to enhance their education. Providing students with a tangible item such as a certificate; the students could save the document electronically or store the item in their professional portfolio in one central location with easy access.

V. Benefits to the Allied Health Field

The development of an elective course on gelotology helps to improve the allied health field by teaching nursing students additional skills to help improve the quality of life of patients. Sometimes medicine alone is not the solution to healing the sick. According to Pressman and Cohen (2005), despite Self-help books, popular magazines, and Sunday newspaper supplements that have suggested that positive affect (PA) can improve people's health, a search of PsycINFO revealed there are twenty times more studies on depression vs. happiness and health. There is a need for continued research and education on other alternative therapies such as gelotology and laughter yoga.

The effects of laughter yoga have improved the quality of life of patients. According to Foley, Matheis, and Schaefer (2002) in Quoidbach, Mikolajczak, and Gross (2015) research tested the use of simulated 1-minute laughter exercises. It was found that fake laughter led to increases in positive emotions. The basis of these findings has provided strong evidence that the use of these alternative therapies can help improve one’s positive experiences. It is important for health professionals to be knowledgeable on these alternative therapies.

Students learning about gelotology will be exposed to new careers which have an impact within the allied health field. According to Warren (2001), clown doctors are in hundreds of hospitals and healthcare settings in at least a dozen different countries around the world (including Canada, Britain, France, Brazil, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and The States). As more people are educated on this approach to improving health, it may shift the direction of health care. Many hospitals have seen the changes in patients as a result of the care and entertainment of clown doctors. Spitzer (2006) stated how clown doctors helped a twelve-year-old patient in the burn unit, to stop screaming and become settled. Also, clown doctors are not only for children. Adult patients also benefit from seeing clown doctors. “Our society tends to dismiss play for adults. Play is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure. The notion is that once we reach adulthood, it is time to get serious. Between personal and professional responsibilities, there’s no time to play” (Tartakovsky, 2012, para 1). It is the objective of this research to educate more people, so they are more aware of the research on gelotology. The knowledge learned can greatly impact the allied health field by the new course offering.

III. Benefits to the Workplace

The design of a gelotology curriculum can have a great impact on society as well. The more people that are educated on the principles of gelotology; the more knowledge of its importance in society will become known. The benefits of a course on gelotology do not only help individuals in the allied health field, but it also helps the general population. Workplace stress has become a growing concern for employers. According to Hirsh (2005), the American workplace has seen an increase in stress due to decline in resources and added competition. The lack of resources has led people to work more hours and risk an increase in their stress. The development of laughter programs can also be used to help reduce employee stress. The results of stressed employees have revealed that employees will more than likely be unhealthy, poorly motivated, less productive and less safe at work. The results of this can affect an organization's ability to succeed in a competitive market Mani, Sritharan, and Gayatri (2014). Addressing the problems of stress can help improve society and the productivity of business, which has an impact on the economy.

A study conducted by Mani, Sritharan and Gayatri (2014) found that job stress affects productivity, absenteeism, workplace errors and job dissatisfaction. They also suggested more employee training and knowledge of information about job stress. The

education on this topic can address the problems and provide valuable solutions for improvement in the workplace.

Beckman, Regier, and Young (2007) conducted a study (Fig 1.) that focused on the elements of laughter yoga on personal efficacy in the workplace and found a 100% positive change in a control group of laughter participants.

Figure 1. Laughter Yoga on Personal Efficacy in the Workplace

From Effect of Workplace Laughter Groups on Personal Efficacy Beliefs, by Beckman, Regier and Young. Copyright 2007 by The Journal of Primary Prevention with permission.

For 14 days a laughter yoga session was conducted for 15 minutes. (Fig. 1) shows the results of the laughter groups based upon their changes in assertiveness, optimism, motivation, adaptability, self- regulation, self-actualization, self-acceptance, and self-awareness.

The positive outcomes seen in this study lead to the preliminary conclusion that a workplace laughter groups can appeal to a diverse range of employees, can be effective with minimal investment of time, and may have sustained positive effects on self-beliefs that have been shown to correlate with positive workplace behaviors (Beckman, Regier & Young, 2007).

Studies like what is depicted in (Fig. 1) need further research and should be implemented within the workplace. Kataria, the founder of laughter yoga, has introduced the concept of laughter yoga worldwide. He speaks at various conferences to spread the word of using laughter to reduce stress. Using his studies Kataria has found implementing a laughter intervention in the workplace has benefits such as: improving team building communication, innovation, creativity, increasing attention spans in meetings, and improving peak performance (Kataria, n.d.).

Laughter therapy programs create fun in the workplace. Work has been known to be a serious place. However, fun in the workplace is now becoming more common. “As kids, we go out to ‘play.’ Later in life, we ‘play’ sports or ‘play’ music,” he writes in one posting. “But then in sharp contrast, we leave our homes each day and go to work. The term implies doing uninspired, often boring and yucky things” (Alsop, 2010, p. 50). However, this has changed in recent years.

Companies like Google, which is ranked one of the best places to work, understand the concepts of work and play. Also, when employees are happy it can have a direct impact on sales. According to Baldonado (2015), workplace fun is an important topic in business; laughter yoga was named as one effective method of having fun in the workplace. Popular companies such as Pike Place Fish, Southwest Airlines, FaceBook, and Google have all incorporated these practices into their culture. These organizations have realized how much time is spent on the job. According to

Everett (2011), we spend more than 90,000 hours at work and with the downturn of the economy staff must now accomplish twice the work with half the resources. The amount of time spent at work led to a greater deal of stress on employees.

When corporations adopt a culture of fun in the workplace, performance improves. Yerkes (2003) cited several benefits of using fun in the workplace, including stimulating creativity, fostering commitment, improving employee relations, and reducing stress. The capstone project, shows the benefit of laughter programs in the workplace. The positive changes of developing a course on gelotology, benefits the specialization of education and management by improving learning and fostering change.

Today businesses thrive on innovation; in a competitive market, it is innovation that is the key to an organization's survival. Almost every year various companies strive to be on top. To be number one and gain as much market share as possible, a company must constantly seek new ways of conducting business. Even during poor economic times, research and development efforts must not stop. According to Jaruzelski and Dehoff (2010), more than 90 percent of executive’s surveyed said innovation is critical as they prepare for an upturn, and a majority have maintained or expanded their portfolios and are pursuing new products to improve growth and margins.

A course on gelotology is an innovative course that is designed to engage students. As an educator within the specialization of education and leadership, it is important to understand the importance of designing courses that engage students. Yearwood, Cox, and Cassidy (2016) stated student engagement should be designed into three parts: student engagement with the instructor; student engagement with their peers; and student engagement with the content. Combining the three will ensure the highest level of achievement for student learning. The course on gelotology uses the three forms of engagement by teaching students to interact with each other, engage with the instructor by following guided interactive instructions and engaging with innovative educational content.

The negative effects of not actively engaging students can lead to withdrawing, academic failure, boredom, passivity, absenteeism, aimlessness, avoidance, and apathy. The gelotology course provides an engaging class that entertains students while at the same time teaching them new skills. Today’s courses should involve some form of fun in learning to further grasp students’ attention. Argan and Sever (2010) describes this form of learning as edutainment which combines entertainment and learning. Argan and Sever conducted a study on edutainment in marketing communication courses using a questionnaire as a data gathering tool. Findings of the study indicated that the use of edutainment can help to improve students’ attention and participation. The study also suggests other disciplines should extend edutainment into their specialties as well. It is my objective to one-day have courses on gelotology offered at all colleges. For further details on implementation of a course on gelotology in your college or a workshop on stress reduction through laughter at your workplace please contact Dr. Gene Haynes at info@learn2laugh.com.

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Dr. Gene Haynes has a Bachelors in management, MBA in Business Administration/ technology management and has a Doctoral Degree in Education. Since receiving certification as a laughologist in 2011 Gene has focused his mission to improve company

moral, enhance the corporate culture, build team work, elevate communication, increase workplace productivity, improve schools retention and increase individual’s health through something as simple as laughter.

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