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Carla BeDell, USA: I love to laugh. I always have. I married a man who loved to laugh as much as I did. For a while, everything was great. But just as what happens in most peoples lives, things became too serious. My husband and I were both involved in the stressful corporate life: him working with ever changing technology in the banking industry and me juggling the increasing pressure filled environment of a high level stockbroker and motherhood. Something had to give.

The first thing that went was my fertility. I strongly believe the stress of my job led to miscarriage and my eventual inability to have any more children. My husband’s job loss came next. Life became very serious. Laughter slipped out of our lives.

Fortunately we had our son and daughter to remind us that no matter what, life should be fun. In a daring act of putting joy back in our lives, we quit our jobs, sold our house, gave away most of our possessions, bought a sailboat and sailed off into the sunset. For four years we laughed, loved and shared amazing adventures together. Yes, we had some worries too, but the laughter well outweighed any fears.

Four years later, we came back to the U.S. for good. People were intrigued by our story and the question they always asked was “What’s one thing you’ve found the hardest to adjust to since you’ve been back?” Sadly, that was an easy answer. We were shocked at the level of unhappiness, disrespect and the lack of kindness many people were displaying towards one another. While we understood the economy had been tough on everyone, it seemed many people were so caught up in their own stories to see anything but misery, sadness and anger. Laughter seemed well out of reach for them.

Intrigued by my story, a new friend suggested I give a workshop on the “Art of Having Fun”, which basically meant how to put fun back into your life. While Googling “fun” and “laughter” on the Internet, Laughter Yoga popped up. Curious I did more research. At first I thought this was crazy. I couldn’t believe you had to teach people how to laugh. The more I learned about it though, the more concerned I became that there were really people out there who never laughed. That made me very sad. When I learned about all the health benefits surrounding Laughter Yoga, including proven success in Senior Care and Cancer, I knew I had to be a part of this.

I quickly signed up for my Certified Laughter Yoga Leader certification in Florida. During the training, I was amazed to hear the stories of the other participants: how Laughter Yoga had helped them overcome so much, from cancer to severe depression. I was in awe as they told stories of witnessing Laughter Yoga with seniors and what a difference it had made in these people’s lives. If that wasn’t inspiring enough, our training group got to meet with Dr Kataria himself and listened to him share his inspiring personal vision for Laughter Yoga.

I came away from the training with a huge amount of respect for those teaching Laughter Yoga and a dedication to helping as many people as I can, find joy and laughter. Through Laughter Yoga Charlotte, I hope to bring joy and laughter to individuals, businesses and corporations.