May 7, 2023
Today marks World Laughter Day. Laughter is a powerful force that transcends cultural boundaries and connects people from all corners of the world. While the ways in which people express and interpret laughter can vary across cultures, the positive effects of laughter are universal.
In his book Riding the Waves of Culture, interculturalist Fons Trompennars lists cultures on a spectrum from neutral to affective. Neutral cultures include Japan, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Austria, and Russia and affective cultures including Kuwait, Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Argentina, and France. In a neutral culture, emotions are more controlled, feelings may not not be shown in some circumstances but kept subdued. In contrast, an affective culture shows openly their feelings by laughing, smiling and gesturing spontaneously.
While laughter is generally associated with happiness, the meaning of laughter can vary across cultures. In some cultures, laughter may be used to express joy, humour, or pleasure, while in others it may be used to mask embarrassment, nervousness, or discomfort. For example, in Japan, laughter may be used to communicate politeness, while in India, laughter may be used to show agreement or respect. In some African cultures, laughter may be seen as a way to bring people together and build community, while in some Middle Eastern cultures, laughter may be considered inappropriate in certain social situations. Overall, the meaning of laughter in a particular culture is influenced by factors such as social norms, values, and beliefs.
Laughter has numerous physical and emotional benefits, including reducing stress, improving mood, and strengthening social bonds, and is an important tool for building relationships and promoting social harmony.
Happy World Laughter Day!