You can’t ‘do’ happy
The sounds of laughter are, ‘Ha, ho, he,’ and when you combine those you end up with a laughter rhythm like, ‘ hahaha, hohoho, hehehe’. Most people, particularly left-brained individuals, think this is silly – the analytical side of the brain is rather cynical. Let that side of the brain have its moment but still make the sounds, and actually use your stomach so that it is the sound coming from the diaphragm. UP’s laughter and joy work, like most of the laughter facilitators in South Africa, is based on the standardised training of Dr Madan Kataria, the Indian physician and laughter guru who popularised laughter yoga (or Hasyayoga) in his 2002 book, Laugh For No Reason. Jackman, who played an integral role in bringing Dr Kataria to South Africa in 2005, reports that most facilitators are either following Dr Kataria’s method rigidly, or they’ve adapted it. “In our case we’ve definitely adapted it because we’ve been doing this kind of work with children for the past 12 years and we’ve integrated everything we’ve learned to make it an holistic experience – moving from the laughter into actually sustaining that joy in the workplace and home.” Jackman’s adaptation works on six basic themes: 1. LLC – Look, let go, choose 2. Fear vs. love 3. Grrrrrattitude 4. Laughter 5. Play 6. Be, have, do vs. do, have, be The themes all involve transforming pre-existing brain patterns. Theme six for instance: “In a nutshell we’ve been taught, ‘ You need to do your work, and then you’re going to have success, and then you’re going to be happy. That structure is ludicrous. If we are always focusing on the ‘doing’ we will never be happy because it’s not the ‘doing’ that’s the power; the being is what’s powerful.” “If I choose to be happy with life exactly the way it is and exactly the way it isn’t, what I will end up doing will be distinct because I’m coming from the space of already being happy.” Jackman says that this speaks directly to how most teams are run. “If we constantly preach that, ‘You guys need to do this! And the bottom line is not working with this!’ you are missing out on the human connection that we all have,” she says. “We are both left- and right-brained and we have to make sure that we’re putting that activation into both sides all the time and laughter does that in one go. One small session covers it.”
A lasting impression
The responses to Jackman’s work are positive and inspirational, proving that her methods have certainly transformed some organisations for the better. She reports that when people are engaged in left-brained thinking, everything is constantly filtered, and they’re not entirely with you in the present. Through the joy session, she gets to witness that turn-off and a powerful, creative right brain come into play. “You can see the sparkle return to their eyes.” Jackman explains that there are two ways to incorporate joy into your team. In a laughter session you’ll get laughter exercises and an encouragement to laugh more, “In the joy session you’ll get the tools for how to let go of fear, choose love, and laugh,” she says. She explains that people have been practising old patterns for a long time, so new patterns need to be incorporated. “In some cases the corporates actually put one of their HR staff onto our joy training and then they bring that back to the teams themselves.” Jackman can either put all six themes in one session which she calls a ‘ vitamin b jab’, or she can facilitate a system to support your team and transform it completely.