Two women recently attended one of my programs on Laughter Yoga. They are residents at a retirement community that hired me to bring laughter into their lives. I knew immediately that this community of seniors was special. As they slowly assembled for my program, and as I was lecturing, there was a degree of attentiveness, aliveness and interest, unusual for this age group. They asked questions while I spoke. They smiled. No one fell asleep (rare for any speaker at a senior community). They burst enthusiastically into laughter once the laughter session began. The activity director accurately told me “I’ve got the best seniors.”
Most striking were two women – one age 101, one age 102. The “younger one” needed to be wheeled in and needed some help getting settled. But for the entire program, her face was lit up with a huge smile of unusual brightness. From where I stood as lecturer, she was positively glowing. I have no doubt that this woman has been laughing her entire life and that laughter is a key factor to her health and longevity.
The woman who was 102 blew my socks off! A lovely woman in a pale blue suit, she walked in to the meeting room. I repeat, she walked in. No wheelchair, no walker and not even a cane. She stood and had a pleasant conversation with me before the program began. I had no need to raise my voice to speak to her as she could hear me perfectly well while we were chatting. She had a wonderful positive disposition – friendly, joyful – and like all the others, she came to laugh. She made it clear to me in that initial conversation that laughter was the reason she made it to 102 in such good health.
I’ve had many 90-somethings join my laughter programs over the years, but these were my first centenarians. Please notice that this is not in a blue zone – those areas of our planet where there is a large concentration of centenarians. This is just an area near Seattle. These women inspire me greatly, to stay positive and keep laughing well into an enriching ripe age.