How Belly-Aching Laughter Helps You Resolve A Problem

4 Dec 2018

How Belly-Aching Laughter Helps You Resolve A Problem

Want to shed some light on a problem?

You can’t explore new ideas when you’re in a ‘problem’ mind set. You need to be in a different emotional space to explore it objectively. Laughter will do the trick!

How Belly-Aching Laughter Helps You Resolve A Problem

During a recent training one of the participants was telling us about a kind of negative routine she frequently ran in her head when she got into bed. While she’d never experienced such an event in real life, she described her imagined frightening scenario in incredible and vivid detail — but in a light-hearted manner. She wanted to stop doing it, but it had become a habit.

The rest of us were, at first, shocked. We couldn’t understand why anyone would want to visualise such an absolutely terrifying situation — especially while in bed and just before going to sleep! However, as she continued with her hilarious blow-by-blow enactment of her ritual visualisation, we all, including the storyteller, began laughing.

The laughter became louder and more intense as she continued

After about 10 minutes of her explaining a few variations of the same scenario, some of us were struggling to breathe, and our bellies ached because we were laughing so hard — the participant included. I have to admit to doing some things to prolong the laughter.


Because I know that you can’t belly-laugh about a problem — and still have the problem.

You can’t have two contrary states running at the same time. In this case, the belly-aching-laughter state cancelled out her ability to run the negative visualisation.

Sure enough, the participant told us she’d been unable to visualise her horror movie for the remainder of the week.

If you’ve subscribed to this newsletter for any length of time, you’ll know that I love to laugh and I love to share humour with you. I can laugh at just about anything and sometimes just remembering something funny will send me into hysterics. It might be some funnies from my Humour Collection, a clip on YouTube, a short video on Facebook, personal experience, watching standup comics on TV, reading something funny or even playing with my dog or parrot; all form grist for the laughter mill.

Laughter is important

I used to rent a room in a doctors surgery for my coaching work. The doctors, nurses and admin staff would often threaten to book themselves in for a session with me so they could figure out why there was so much hilarity behind my closed door. And at other times, in an almost reprimanding tone, someone would ask, “I thought what you were doing was supposed to be serious?”

Of course what I do is serious

But that doesn’t mean I have to be serious. Taking things too seriously is often a client’s biggest problem, preventing them from solving their issues. If can help someone laugh at an aspect of their problem, it puts them in a better state. A good state makes it easier to look at things from different perspectives, and to see solutions. And when they can examine something from a different perspective, they often discover solutions.

Research confirms it!

Research that confirms being in a good mood can indeed help you be both better and quicker at solving problems. Also, it shows that a positive mood leads to more insightful moments.

It’s my responsibility to be in a good mood

I can’t expect my clients to lighten up if I can’t show them how. I can access great states quite easily now — I’ve had plenty of practice! But at first, I would often just think about something funny that had happened, such as the story at the start of this post.

When I’m in these great states, I often get insights into innovative ways to coach a client to get a change or solve a problem. And these insights often surprise and delight me.

You can use this technique for yourself

It might pay to have a look at a this article about anchoring first. Then come back here.

How to use laughter to resolve a problem

Think about an issue that you’ve been trying to resolve. Write it down as concisely as you can. Then put it aside. Reminisce about some humorous experiences from your own life or search for funny items online. (My humour section YouTube, joke sites etc. are all excellent places to look for resources — you might want to bookmark a few for future reference.) Make sure they are funny enough to make you laugh out loud. It’s essential that you experience a change of state —rather than intellectually ‘thinking’ they’re funny.

Now, staying in your more uplifted state, look at the problem as you’ve written it down. What new insights spring to mind for resolving it? If nothing immediately springs to mind, put the issue aside for longer if at all possible. Do something else, but maintain that positive frame of mind.

You can either look at the problem again in a little while or continue with the other tasks and see if a solution to the problem doesn’t just pop into your head!

The key is to maintain a lighter and more positive mood

Practice until you can create a positive state that works for you. Keeping a good emotional state is like many things; the more you practice, the better you get at it. So practice, then anchor the state for future use. After all being in high spirits is an end in itself — and you never know when there will be a problem to solve.