Your positive attitude equals freedom

I had the amazing pleasure of laughing with an extraordinarily beautiful spirit recently, reminding me of the power of positivity. Her name is Helene. Now, granted, I get the pleasure of laughing with a lot of beautiful souls. It’s quite a blessing. But Helene has left a positive and lasting impression on me. Let me tell ya about it…

It’s the final class of a 4-week laughter yoga series and 2 of the “regulars” show up with their friend, Helene, saying that they think it will be great for her and that she’ll enjoy it. Helene is smiling from the moment she walks in the door. And as her friends sign in and settle into their seats, she begins to tell me a little about herself.

With the warmest, sweetest, most genuine smile – the kind that makes your eyes sparkle and naturally squint ever so slightly – she begins to tell me that she has a neurological condition that prevents her from fully using her arms. She can use her hands a bit but is unable to lift her arms. At that moment, her friend Elaine hands me the sign in sheet and tells Helene that she signed her in. With an even bigger smile, Helene looks at both ladies and says, “and I have wonderful friends!” We all smile and chuckle in agreement.

As the Laughter Yoga teacher, my mind races quickly for a moment, knowing that we do a TON of activities that utilize arm movement, not the least of which is the infamous HO, HO, HA, HA, HA, clapping chant. My often “Type-A” personality was surprisingly calm and fluid, already at ease by Helene’s pleasant acceptance of her own circumstances. So, I simply explain to her that we’ll be doing many exercises that involve the arms and hands, offering a few suggestions how she can modify them for her needs and assuring her that any way she chooses to participate is perfectly fine.

The laughter yoga class proceeds as it normally would, filled with mindful body awareness, deep breathing, playful activities, community connection and lots and lots of laughter! The energetic connection among the 5 of us in attendance is lovely as we play with joy-filled hearts. Everyone is “full-in” from the first exercise to the last, including Helene. We go from one exercise to the next and as we clap to the rhythm of our laughter yoga chant, Helene joins along effortlessly, tapping her thighs, stomping her feet, swaying her shoulders in perfect sync. Then we move along to other exercises, often bringing our hands to head level as we clap. Helene leans deeply forward and then straightens up, with gusto, utilizing kinetic energy to get her arms to bend at the elbow into an upright position in order to clap at eye level. It’s a beautiful symphony of acceptance, ingenuity, physics, playfulness and participation. I love it. She does this repeatedly for several other exercises.

At no time during our session does Helene evoke a sense of inability or self-pity. She is fully engaged with us, with the activities, and with life. This positivity displays itself as true freedom — full participation, no judgments, pure enjoyment. Having the opportunity to laugh and play with Helene and the other ladies was a true, true gift. My heart is full of joy and optimism after that class, even more so than normal. I witnessed life being fully lived, no matter the circumstance. Helene’s inner strength, perseverance, and playfulness reconfirmed for me just how powerful and important a positive attitude is. And it brought even more gratitude for my own good health and well-being, too.

A positive attitude is so important

One of the many wonderful benefits of laughter yoga and laughter wellness is that it helps us maintain a positive outlook. And as we stay more positive, it affects our entire life experience. I have certainly experienced that attitude shift myself over the years of practicing laughter yoga. It didn’t come naturally for me until I learned some of the proper tools.  And now I’m so thankful to have also witnessed Helene’s beautiful soul, a natural, radiant expression of positivity. She gave me such a gift that evening. She really solidified for me just how important it is to fully show up in life.

It could be quite easy to disengage with activity or with life experiences if we feel that we can’t “fully” participate. But that’s just the mind interfering and judging; it’s the ego throwing itself a pity-party. Of course we can always have full and positive experience of life – we just have to choose it.  And in doing so, we create freedom for ourselves and permission to enjoy life to the fullest.