In my daily practices to Love Life Laughing, Thursdays are for Thank You. This past Thursday, I had the privilege to lead two laughter yoga sessions to audiences from the ends of the developmental continuum: a class of elementary students visiting the University of Alberta for USchool, and a group of seniors at St. Anthony’s Ukrainian Church. I was feeling grateful for the opportunity to bring some laughter and joy and to share some daily practices and attitudes for having a life filled with more positive emotions. I was also thankful to Steve Wilson and Madan Kataria for their roles in developing and fostering laughter clubs and for teaching me how to lead SS_instructorthese programs and train others. Over the past few years, I have somewhat “back-burnered” my laughter yoga pursuits as I’ve been expanding into other realms that support aliveness and exhilaration. On Saturday, as I was sharing yet another laughter session with a marvelous group during their yoga teacher training with Sara Cueva (I will be a student in said training in January), I was feeling grateful again for this gift of laughter yoga. As I have deepened my love of yoga and been practicing daily for months, it struck me that part of the beauty of laughter yoga – and what distinguishes it from the vast majority of yoga classes I’ve attended – is that it is social. I’ve been to many yoga classes, where I enter a dimly lit room, spend the entire time on my mat and never even make eye contact with other students. In laughter yoga, it is centrally about being with others and fulfilling our deep need for connection. It was wonderful to be with a group so willing to play.

In related musings, it has become increasingly clear to me that one of the most potent methods for increasing happiness is being of service to others. There are a lot of things I do that get social currency as “accomplishments,” yet they don’t always feed my soul. When I volunteer at the Marian Center and help to serve a meal for people coming off the streets, I feel a sense of grace and a deep happiness for making a contribution (and being part of a community of like-hearted folks). With the plethora of books and tips about happiness, it seems that contribution and service are somewhat of a secret that, perhaps, should be top of the list.

As we head toward American Thanksgiving, I am thankful for opportunities to inspire laughter, joy, and kindness and thrilled for chances to give. I wish you moments of reflection on gratitude and opportunities for giving to others. Happy Thanks & Giving.

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