Germans need to laugh more, survey suggests

Study ahead of World Laughter Day shows Germans most amused by others’ bad luck

Permanent gigglers – those who laugh more than 30 times a day – are a rare breed in Germany: just seven per cent, according to the survey by Schwenninger health insurer.

Permanent gigglers – those who laugh more than 30 times a day – are a rare breed in Germany: just seven per cent, according to the survey by Schwenninger health insurer.

 

News flash: Germans don’t laugh enough. That is the not utterly surprising result of a study by a German health insurer ahead of World Laughter Day on Sunday.

The study showed that 29 per cent of Germans laugh less than five times a day or not at all, while 35 per cent laugh between six and 10 times a day. Permanent gigglers – those who laugh more than 30 times a day – are a rare breed in Germany: just seven per cent.

“This survey shows Germans are exactly as we are presented abroad,” jokes Roland Frimmersdorf, spokesman for the Schwenninger health insurer who financed the representative survey of 1,000 people.

Just as revealing in the survey is what makes Germans laugh. The most common reason: Schadenfreude, or amusement at others’ bad luck.

A tragic side of life in Germany, the survey suggests: people wish they could laugh more, with 92 per cent admitting that laughter had a positive effect on them.

“Laughter is liberating, it stimulates the release of happiness hormones, stabilises the psyche and reduces stress,” said Dr Tanja Katrin Hantke, health expert of the Schwenninger health insurer. “People who laugh more are more optimistic and cope better with daily pressures.”

People friendly

One way to laugh more, she suggests, is to spend time with people rather than your smartphone. Or embrace tomorrow’s World Laughter Day.

The annual laugh-in was first held in 1998 by Madan Kataria, developer of laughter yoga. From humble beginnings in Bombay, laughter yoga has has grown to 6,000 clubs in 100 countries worldwide. Their motto: “We don’t laugh because we are happy; we are happy because we laugh.”

“If you laugh every day you will not get sick as quickly,” said Mr Kataria. “When you have chronic health problems, they will heal quicker this way.”

Next month in Frankfurt he will host the first Global Laughter Conference. If that’s too far, you can attend a two-day seminar on June 10-11th in Limerick, organised by by Laughter Yoga Ireland.

Irish organiser Mary Ananda Shakti points to laughter’s proven health benefits: boosting the immune system, assisting with depression, anxiety and psychosomatic disorders.

“It reduces blood pressure, is a natural pain reliever and helps in alleviating the symptoms of bronchitis and asthma,” she says.

For now, laughter yoga founder Kataria hopes everyone will join him in laughing loud for one minute at 1pm on Sunday. In Germany, the stopwatches are ready.