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When human beings laugh, they not only express joy, but also fear or embarrassment, where that lazy laughter appears, which is difficult to control, but which innately helps the body to release.

Emotional intelligence expert, Raúl Ravelo, presents his new book Living with Joy, in which he unites the words play and laughter to reveal the power of well-being they have in our lives. Talking to Raúl Ravelo, he tells us that these two actions balance the emotions, allowing body and mind to recharge with energy to keep moving forward. In addition, they are natural resources that accompany us since we are born, but as we grow up we forget about them.

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What role do you think laughter plays in our lives and how does it positively impact our emotional health?

Raúl Ravelo: For me, playing and laughing are like a form of meditation, because when one laughs from the gut it causes the mind to disconnect, and then return to life with recharged batteries. When someone is in full laughter they are experiencing a state of fullness and well-being that helps our emotional health to be better. In fact, laughter releases certain hormones, such as endorphins, and this helps us to feel relieved.

Have you had to resort to activities mentioned in the book to overcome difficult situations or moments of depression?

R.R: Every teacher has his or her own book, and there are people who need to go to therapy and others who heal through activities such as dance or theatre. In my case, I resort to activities and games where music is present. I play instruments, and I play for the sake of playing, I don’t do it with a specific objective, but simply to be better in my day to day life. To be able to get rid of anxiety and stress, and to be connected with the now;

How does the search for happiness and the work of self-knowledge complement psychological help?

R.R: Everyone goes their own way, there are people who need outside help, and others don’t because they have healed without going to therapy. For example, Norman Cousins, was an American journalist who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that causes stiffness and pain. Doctors told him he was not going to get better, but alternatively he started a programme where he took medicines with a lot of vitamin C, and on the other hand, he kept watching and reading comedies that made him laugh all the time. His own struggle led him to discoverlaughter therapy, and the healing power it has;

At the psychotherapeutic level, there is Annette Goodheart, a doctor who spent 10 years in therapy to overcome a childhood trauma, but that therapy did not heal her. So she turned to laughter and crying, which were involved, and was able to unblock that trauma. In her book Laughter Therapy, she talked about accompanying terminally ill or traumatised people to heal through laughter. She asked what your life would be like if you could laugh at what you really don’t find funny, and for me, asking that question is liberating.


Vivir con alegría, the new book by Raúl Ravelo.

What games/activities stand out the most from the book?

R.R: I emphasise the group ones, because laughing and playing in a group is more powerful and healing. Some experts say that there is 30%more likelihood of laughing in a group than individually. Laughter ultimately has a lot to do with the brain, and we play a lot with the mirror neurons. For example, when we see someone yawning, it is rare that we do not yawn afterwards. In this way we work with laughter and play, because this mirroring, at a group level, creates a more favourable climate and people end up laughing, when at an individual level it is more difficult.

What is the first thing you do to restore joy when you feel stressed?

R.R: I think there is a paradox, and that is that obsessively seeking happiness or joy takes us away from it. I believe that living accepting that good and bad things happen to us is one of the ways that brings us closer to being better every day. In my case, I do laughter meditations, which are similar to meditation, but with laughter games. Sometimes I can connect with my deep laughter, and sometimes I can’t, but you don’t have to be obsessed with looking for it because in the end it’s difficult to get there. When you get to connect with your inner self and bring out that laughter from within it is a pleasure, and it leaves you in a deep meditative state.

What advice would you give to someone who believes that playing is a child’s game, and that there is no point in incorporating it into everyday life to improve personal wellbeing?

R.R: Actually, children are masters of the art of living, they laugh a lot and learn by playing. Play is used to learn, to experiment, to socialise, to regulate emotions. And laughter is a mechanism that helps us to secrete certain substances that keep us away from depressive and anxious states, and eliminate stress. So, if we are all born with these resources, and it is so good, why don’t we give ourselves more laughter? You just have to try, I do laughter therapy in companies, and I work in teams with games. Some people don’t like the idea, but others try it. It may not be for everyone, but if they are able to connect with their play and deep laughter they are left wanting more.


The book by Raúl Ravelo on display for the presentation in Barcelona on 11 April.

Do you think it is society itself that forces us to forget that we were all children?

R.R: In Western society we have a negative connotation regarding play and laughter. In the East not so much, but it is also gradually being lost. A thousand years ago, in Asian temples, in Zen Buddhism, laughter was used as a form of meditation and was connected in a spiritual way. Therefore, in Western countries, there are still myths that playing is a childish attitude. Depending on the time and place, laughing is frowned upon;

What do you recommend doing every day to wake up with the best possible energy?

R.R: In the book I argue that we must give ourselves our daily moments of laughter. In the same way that we need to charge our mobile phone, we also need to charge ourselves. Some people need to recharge by exercising, others prefer to sing or dance, and here laughter and play have the same purpose. Moreover, there has to be a balance between what we want to materialise in our lives and the sensations of our dreams and goals as we go through our daily lives.

Five quick questions:

  • Favourite game: playing guitar. I love music and playing with sounds, and right now it’s one of my most pleasurable activities.
  • A habit: Keep everything very tidy.
  • Book that has influenced you: Laughter Therapy by Annette Goodheart..
  • A daily habit: playing with my daughter. Sitting with her and entering her world to play the way she wants me to play.
  • Song that makes you laugh: La risa bonita by Che Sudaka..
Noelia Fernández

Journalist passionate about culture, literature, arts and travel. I am interested in being able to listen to others and immerse myself in their stories, seeking the essence of each experience and giving voice to many that are not heard. I have been writing for Horse since June 2021.