Pamela Wener, Certified Laughter Leader, Montreal, Canada: Training to be a certified laughter leader has changed my life in so many positive ways. To begin with, I would have to say that I truly feel different inside. I am a much happier, grateful, upbeat person who is able to share this easily with others. Being a pre-school teacher for almost 30 years and the mother of twin sons and a daughter, I have always loved kids and have found them such a joy to be with. I was a good teacher and mother partly because I am a good animator and can get silly with the kids and laugh with them. As far back as I can remember, l had always loved to laugh and smile and share that with others. However, I have been through some dark times, where I have had smiles on the outside and felt completely hollow on the inside.
Just after I retired from teaching pre-school, I felt this emptiness while I searched for something to do that I was equally as passionate about. There were times I felt I had lost my identity because I no longer had a career or title. At the same time I had to deal with the death of my mother from a fairly rare and painful cancer. Slowly, I started to fall into a deep depression. Then one day I decided to attend a Laughter Yoga class with a friend and teacher that I had trained, not knowing what to expect just yearning to laugh. I loved it from the start and turned to my friend and said “You know I think teaching this would be a great transfer of my skills.” Her answer was, “I think you would be great at it.”
As luck would have it, someone from World Laughter Tour was coming to do a training workshop in Montreal a few weeks later. I took the training and started on my journey. At first I went slowly, working mostly in retirement homes for free. I did a lot of reading and networking on Facebook and received support from many people. I began to love this community that was so willing to share resources and ideas. I even managed to make it to the Applied Association of Therapeutic Humor this year on a scholarship with the encouragement of one of my online mentors.
Slowly my confidence rose and I did something I had never done before as an educator, I became an entrepreneur and learned how to sell myself and my services. It wasn’t so difficult because I believe so whole heartedly in what I am doing. Not just because of other people’s experiences but because of my own. Laughter and humour helped me through the recent death of my mother-in-law. Furthermore, I am learning to be more tolerant, patient, positive, present oriented, helpful, loving, accepting and most of all happy. I am getting better at letting go of the unimportant annoyances in everyday life with much more ease. I take disappointments more in my stride and when I start to feel blue I have learned to use comedy and gratitude to feel better and have taught others to do the same thing.
Sometimes I feel like a pit bull that just won’t let go, or like the frog that keeps trying to get to the top of the wall because he is deaf and can’t hear everyone saying he will never make it. There are many in my immediate surroundings who I must turn a deaf ear to, or pretend to listen to, while I smile inside with stubborn determination. For as long as I feel as passionate as I do about laughter and humour and their many advantages, I will keep going on this path throughout the journey of my life.