Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

Celebrate Laughter: Reconnect with Your Joyful Inner Child

Judith Orloff - Thursday, November 15, 2012

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff's "Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love ”

As a psychiatrist, I’m a big prescriber of laughter. Not the contrived or canned kind, but laughter from the soul. Just as I guide patients, I’d like you to sense when your funny bone is legitimately hit, an energetic place that resonates. True laughter is a surrender to hilarity; a sound, a smile, a heart opening. You feel it in your chest, or your whole body may shake. Also, notice that prior to a joke, there’s an air of expectation, a subtle shift in consciousness and attention, the promise of mood transformation. But faking laughter is like faking orgasm; no positive energy to be had there. Since I’ve never gotten most conventional jokes, I know the awkward position of hating to fake a smile but being afraid to offend or seem clueless. Now I just make a joke out of my not getting it: that feels more authentic and relieves me of the negative fallout of pretending to be something I’m not.

Energy comes from humor. However, each of us, even the crotchety, must locate our sense of what’s funny, raucous or wry. Although jokes often elude me, I really respond to the spontaneous comedy of life itself. I get a huge kick out of quirky little things such as children squealing as they pop bubble wrap. I consider loss of laughter a crime against psyche and spirit. With my patients, laughter’s absence never gets by me; I make it my business to notice when it’s missing, and help them recoup it. Otherwise, laughter-less, they’re unknowingly living in energetic poverty. We don’t ordinarily equate lack of laughter with deprivation, but, from an energy perspective it is.

Here are some pointers from my book Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love I give patients to help them reconnect with their inner child to get them laughing. In this exercise be authentic, have fun, and feel the positive energy. Sometimes laughing has become so alien, it helps to have a plan.

5 Strategies to Reconnect with Your Inner Child and Laugh More

  • Reclaim your inner child’s life force
    Every grown-up has an inner child. Both are distinct energetic aspects of our life force. For full vigor, each must be accounted for. Your inner child may need urging but it wants to be embraced. (Having kids often naturally spurs this reconnecting process in parents who otherwise might never get there.) For starters, bring out your baby or childhood photos. Really look at them. The photos can rematerialize shelved energy. Next, with photo in hand, promise to honor that child’s needs. For example, I promised mine: “You’ll never have to smile for a camera again unless you want to--”an expectation I despised when growing up. Recall ordeals you had to endure; vow no repeats. Also, begin to recognize when your inner child is in jeopardy. The tip offs? Perhaps you’re laughing less, feeling overtired or overworked.

  • Find activities your inner child loves.
    Explore what your inner child genuinely finds fun or funny. First, recall activities from your youth that made you smile. Miniature golf. Bugs Bunny. Elmer Fudd. The fast-forward chipmunk voice you get from inhaling a helium balloon. Memories can get rusty laughter synapses cranking. Second, see what sorts of fun your inner child responds to now. Peruse the newspaper’s leisure section, ask friends what’s funny, check out genres of comedy from standup to radio.

  • Seek out people who laugh.
    We absorb funniness by osmosis. Hearty laughers spread those positive vibes to us. What counts most, though, is the energy behind the laugh, not just sound or facial expression. Take the Dali Lama’s infectious giggle which comes from a place of love and wonder--its healing energy goes straight to our hearts. The other extreme are people who have grins on their faces, but whose laughter often stems from malice or psychic pain. So confusing. They’re laughing, yet you’re being slimed with negative vibes. There’s no joy coming your way. Don’t be fooled; trust your energetic assessment.

  • Play with children.
    Children have PhD’s in play; their lack of inhibition is contagious. Spend time with them. If you’re lucky enough to be around infants, watch how they grin at six weeks, then laugh at four months, a natural instinct. Or observe children at play; they haven’t learned to guard their emotions or hold in squeals and giggles. They’re just beaming. Try to open your heart, and absorb these vibes.

  • Set you intention to laugh as much as possible.
    From the moment you wake up in the morning, look for things to laugh about. Regularly laughing buoys our energy field, reverses learned seriousness. If our parents had said at breakfast, “Be sure not to miss out on any laughs today,” it’d be a lot easier. But most didn’t, so we have to teach ourselves. At Santa Monica’s Wellness Community, cancer survivors have laugh-a-thons. They share jokes, crack up at just about everything including medical misadventures, and know that this will help healing. Real wisdom we all can benefit from, but let’s not wait for a health challenge to catch on. So, be amused by whatever you can, especially your own foibles. Laughter is a way of cherishing your energy.
  • I see laughter as a survival tool. As Emerson says, “The earth laughs in flowers.” When you laugh at something everything lightens up. Whatever tightness you have, that particular log jam is broken. The energy of your life force begins to flow again.


    Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

    Patricia Powell commented on 27-Nov-2012 12:38 PM
    Loved what you said,and agree..I connect with nature to stay sane..and in the flow of life..its my healing place, my church,my meditation place and so more more..giving thanks for color comes to mind in nature,and all kinds of thanksgiving..even for textures..its all so wonderful. I try to remember to white light my car,before taking a drive,and feel very protected..Thanks for your encouragement and joy..Love, Pat
    Isabella commented on 27-Nov-2012 12:47 PM
    I love this. If feels so amazing to laugh! I was so happy to hear you don't get jokes, either. Every day serves up some cosmic hilarity. I recently turned one of my greatest pains (getting organized) into laughter and made an Amazon ebook out of it (Funny Woman Guide to Get Organized NOW!...or at Least Sometime Before You Die). It was so healing to do that and I had so many laughs over the funny things I have done and thought. Last night my kids and I laughed for an hour straight about the worst possible Christmas gifts you could get (freckle vanishing creme and deodorant were at the top of the list). We were so connected after all that laughing we started knowing what the other person was thinking! They both figured out what I was going to give Dad without me even saying anything. WOW!!
    Karen commented on 27-Nov-2012 01:55 PM
    No Joke. And that comment is funny in itself. An oxymoron? This is great! There is nothing more refreshing than a hearty belly laugh which curls your toes. Thanks!
    Richard commented on 27-Nov-2012 01:55 PM
    I have lived with anxiety and depression for years. PTSD or war trauma, and through EMDR have found feelings that I have locked away and that have unknowingly influenced my emotional reactions today. Now 70, I have begun to regain my emotional life, to be alive for maybe the first time in years.

    I say all of this publicly because, your info, at its core is so simple and helpful. I am glad I am getting your emails and can read your blog.

    Linda commented on 27-Nov-2012 02:11 PM
    Laughter Yoga, created in 1995 by the Indian physician, Dr. Madan Kataria, can help you get in touch with your playful spirit and add more joyful laughter to your life. Check out www.laughteryoga.org and find a free laughter club in your area today!
    Marjane commented on 28-Nov-2012 09:12 AM
    So true it is good to hear it again...Thanks for this few moment of pleasure
    Walter Gottesman commented on 01-Dec-2012 05:45 AM
    Reminds me of the quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., that "Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God." It's good to be reminded of that. Thank you Dr. Orloff!
    Anonymous commented on 01-Dec-2012 02:20 PM
    Get This, my sister in watching Madagascar, thought the saying from the female leopard "Why yes I AM five" was very cute and funny. It serves as a happiness trigger. I noticed everytime she says it (and she likees saying it) her whole aura smiles and changes to happiness. Its like you can almost see the seratonin release in her brain and bathe her whole body, spirit and psyche!! So it is very important to recall, pleasant, happy or things that make you smile, feel good or laugh, IT WORKS!! And its lovely to watch happening in real life, the change and transformation it immediately does!!! How awesome is that!!
    Annie Conneau commented on 03-Dec-2012 08:45 PM
    I throughly enjoyed your article on laughter!
    A friend recently sent me a card that said "laughter is like internal jogging".
    I start my day with an Aloha Laugh and before you know it the motion creates the emotion.
    Happy Holidays to all!!

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