• 01 Feb
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Why laughter is contagious?

    laughter therapy



    “Laugh and the world laughs with you” may be more than just a saying that we learnt in childhood. It turns out that there is scientific evidence that laughter is contagious. Research suggests that when we see emotional expressions of any kind on other people’s faces, our brain will try to mirror them so that we can have a shared reality with the other person, helping us to bond with them. Bonding with group members was important from an evolutionary perspective and still continues to be, and that is why the brain acts this way. This ability helps us to survive in our social environment.


    However, it turns out that for positive emotions, our brain responds a lot more and much faster. This is because more bonding is likely to happen over positive emotions. These are also considered to strengthen the immunity system, and so the brain responds more to them. Therefore, when we see someone laugh or when we hear a joke, our brain involuntarily prepares the facial muscles to laugh, but forming a smile.

    Dr. Sophie Scott, head of this research project, commented:

    "We usually encounter positive emotions, such as laughter or cheering, in group situations, whether watching a comedy programme with family or a football game with friends. This response in the brain, automatically priming us to smile or laugh, provides a way of mirroring the behaviour of others, something which helps us interact socially. It could play an important role in building strong bonds between individuals in a group."


    This is perhaps the reason why humour is used as an ice-breaker in most situations where two unknown people are interacting. This could also be why one of the most important social skills rated over time in both formal and informal situations.


    Laughter therapy helps depressed to feel good.

    For depression and other psychological disorders, laughter therapy tends to help a lot for the same reason. In laughter therapy, no jokes are used, but simple laughing of the instructor tends to induce laughter from the participants.

    This is where the brain mechanisms of mimicking a positive state of emotions tends to kick in and be useful. In depression, it can be very difficult to find anything pleasant, however, laughter therapy works on the automatic systems of the brain and tends to trigger positive emotions and a release of the feel good emotion, dopamine. The effect multiplies as one sees the whole group laughing.


    Your minus points ignored if you have ability to make us laugh

    Laughter also promotes liking. For example, children tend to like adults and teachers that can make them laugh. It makes it easy for us to ignore the person’s minus points if they have an ability to make us laugh and put us at ease.


    Laughing boost our immune system

    There is also research which suggests that the reason some of yoga’s facial exercises include laughing poses and expressions, is because our ancient ancestors had already discovered the health benefits of laughing. Along with it being contagious, it is also healthy. Even using the same facial muscles as those which are used in laughing tend to make us feel good, boost our immunity and promote our health.



  • 29 Jan
    Oyindrila Basu

    Tips to utilize Home alone weekend for something productive.

    woman working at home

    For housewives who feel that staying at home is a boring job, even after the full-time job of cooking, dusting and cleaning  there are plans for you. If you have some weekend plans of kitty party, and the weather has been a foe, don’t get upset. Use your #HomeAloneWeekend for something productive-

    • Decorate your interiors with new color, but out of simple things, which are present in your house. For e.g. make some origami birds (following the you tube tutorials), this can give a sudden freshness to your bedroom, so no longer you need to derive freshness from #Barfi


    • Alternatively, start a brand new painting for your drawing room, if you are an artist.


    • If you are into writing, this is the day, to begin a new book or article.


    • If you have been thinking long for making your skills, productive, use a lazy day at home to check out the plans, start sending applications and submissions at the relevant places. Stop thinking, start doing.


    • If you are at leisure, and want some shopping, start surfing the online shopping sites, more than enough varieties and options will make you swoon, and possibly you can choose the best one, without being interrupted occasionally with “how can I help you mam?” J


    Generally, being at home is not bad at all. If you think, staying in the house means, you have to be idle, you are wrong. The work structure is changing drastically.


    Many a time, wives on a dependent visa, with their husbands in a foreign land feel, that is the end, ‘I don’t have the permission, so I cannot work, so what do I do! Build up a ladies’ association in the locality, and start regular meetings to prove that I am engaged, I am busy; I am social like my husband’. Well socializing in the common group is not bad at all, but it is better to be proactive on the Internet, than in the PNPC class of the social association.


    There are thousands of opportunities online, which asks you to work from home, without drawing anything from the foreign government. Just find one, which suits your profile.


    You can upgrade your professional skills by joining an edx course; this is the right opportunity to get yourself certified by universities like Harvard or MIT.


    If you are a housewife in India, with good academic background, the same is applicable to you.


    If you want to complete your educational status, start looking for distance courses today, from home, rather than engaging yourself in miffy arguments within the family (which often leads you to think that you need a social life outside).


    Keep yourself busy with your hobbies, (doesn’t mean doing Facebook the whole day), but something like reading fictions, or journals, writing a review for a recent movie and posting it on LinkedIn, can be some common productive works.


    If you are good at some art like knitting or cooking or painting, you can start practicing it today.


    Indulge yourself in pleasurable music or dance (if you have the skill), that can help you think better, control your mind and body.


    In your regular schedule, do not forget some indoor exercises, if you are unable to go for jogging due to bad weather, or in general, if you are at home.


  • 28 Jan
    Oyindrila Basu

    Being home Or Home Alone-Not Such A Bad Thing

    boy reading

    It is winter time friends, chilly winds outside. #PostChristmas, actually, the weather in our country or some of the abroad countries, do not remain very friendly for trips or picnics or #MallHopping.


    This year itself, Delhi and Kolkata have witnessed sudden temperature drops with #GooseBumpyWinds that does not allow you to dress your style and go out for a movie date or dinner, or just window shopping if you feel like. Along with it, there have been long days of bad clouds, with not a spec of the sun.


    In the eastern time zone, USA has been swept away by the torments of #Snowzilla, when it is just next to impossible, for you, to plan your weekends outside.


    So what do you do?

    You do not probably want to spend an inactive, boring weekend, without anything to do! Especially, you have known since your childhood, that winter is the season of fun, frolic, food and festivity. Winter is the best time to eat whatever you want, dress up like yourself and party, isn’t it? But unfortunately, the recent change in the global weather forecast is going against the prediction and teaching of our forefathers :P


    These days, odd weather conditions are no longer odd; they are most common throughout the year. However, do not spoil your mood, if your plan for a recent movie outing or long drive, has been spoilt by the bad weather outside.

    What to do at home if you are alone, while your parents are away to ‘chachi’s’ or ‘maami’s’, and the weather outside has dumped you, while you had some hopping and shopping plans with your pals, don’t worry, just chill!


    Instead of getting frustrated, sort yourself and think about those things which you have been thinking of for a long time-


    • Probably, finish up the last section of the novel you had left halfway.


    • Turn on the FM, and listen to your favourite program, which you have been thinking of hearing all over again, after a huge gap, but was not being able to make it.


    • Live for yourself. Pamper yourself with a cup of ice-cream with chocolate sauce, forget dieting, and start up a new movie which you have been planning for quite sometime.


    • Or just go for an extended nap lazily.:)

    If you have a partner, Then enjoy your day with these beautiful tips


    • Wake up with a strong aroma of beaten coffee, and sit with your partner to decide on the list of exciting things you can do for the day, being home. (of course, if it is not a working day:))


    • You can start cooking up a good brunch for both of you, that is complimentary to the weather outside. For e.g. ‘khichdi’, if it is rainy outside, or probably a platter of grilled peking duck with some sparkling white wine and spaghetti can be a sumptuous enough to nurture your taste buds. This is also the right opportunity to brush up your #Cuisineart.


    • Holidays, for working couples, have become the ‘odd’ event in the current scenario, preferably try to be at home, on this weekend with your partner. Spend a few extra minutes of the morning nap with each other, when you are not actually sleeping, but may be peeping at each other from your quilt’s other end, or sharing a few old memories or your childhood or your relation, when the sun’s golden rays bathe your bedroom walls.


    • Do something special. Engage in some activity, which requires both’s efforts. Like take out some pictures from old albums and make a collage, or change the location of the furniture, to give your home a new look.


    • Sit for an afternoon movie together, and jointly start reviewing it with points of criticism. This is very effective. It not only helps you spend quality time with your partner, but also prunes and sharpens your creative analytical skills.


    • Try disseminating a detective novel together. You will suddenly realize; you have hit upon a new theory with your partner.


    • You can always invite some of your old friends (with whom you have lost touch since long) with a surprise call, and together cook up a delicious dinner for them.


    • Play a game of chess or scrabble with our partner. Simple things often make life prettier.


    • If you have some recent plans for a long trip or outing, this is the best day to sit with your partner and make the necessary decisions and plans of arrangement.







  • 27 Jan
    Oyindrila Basu

    Positivity and its contagiousness

    positivity is contagious

    In our article on yawning, we have already discussed how emotions and energy can be contagious and be transferred from one person to another in the same group.

    It also evokes similar kinds of reactions among individuals, because contagious emotions are transmitted, like yawning was a contagious habit, whose reaction was yawn.

    ‘Positivity’ is a kind of energy. Merriam Webster defines positivity as a quality or state of being positive.

    Positivity is a state of goodness, a state of affirmation, anything which has the answer yes to it.

    Words like yes, good, light, open, expert, agree, accept, are positive words, and they carry a sense of affirmation in them, that propels you forward, towards an action and does not draw you back with hindrance.

    So they preach positivity, and you have a nice feeling whenever these words are used.

    Positivity, within you makes you hopeful, and feel mentally healthy.

    In simple words, comedies like “Zindagi abhi baki hai mere ghost” gives you a positive spirit and feel good factor, while #Splitsvilla definitely gives you a bad impression, negative ideas about relationships and commitment, however, you love to watch them and get entertained, but why so? Because the negativity is also a contagious energy, and one or two episodes are enough to transmit it within you, and then you get addicted to it :/

    Have you ever thought, why you feel like hitting the face of Mogambo, every time you watch “Mr. India”, but you still watch it several times to hear the dialogue “Mogambo khush Huya”, (no wonder, the film and the character has become so popular). Actually what happens is, we get too involved with the plot of the movie or show, and start feeling what the hero or heroine might be feeling due to the villain, i.e. negativity, this is the contagious nature of emotions and energy.

    Likewise, ‘positivity’ is contagious too, hopefully knowing that will make you feel positive 

    The triumph of #KabirTeam in “Chakde India”, makes you feel triumphant too, and you just feel the lack of a national flag badly. Is it because you are overtly patriotic? :/ well, maybe not, the positive spirit, the win-win situation of the #Hero (the word itself carries positivity), intertwines with your actual being, and you feel like a winner hero too, such is the power of these contagious emotions.


    Positivity gives you strength. It helps you to cope with gruesome experiences with a strong face. Being with positive people and sharing positive talks makes you feel happy, because this spirit is conveyed to you too, and you start reacting the same way. For e.g. if you are going through a very bad time in life, say your family member is getting treated in the hospital, or you have had a bad breakup, even the worst of such incidences can be healed if you speak to a person who says “don’t worry, things will be fine; it happens”, or may be, if you watch a positive movie like “Jab We Met”, or “Golmaal” (the Utpal Dutt one, of course) it gives you a momentary relief from your pains and sorrows. The positivity of the movies charges you up, gives you strength to fight your difficulties with a brave face.


    Good music does the same work.


    But if you start watching a movie, of crime and violence, rape or abduction, even when you are in a good mood, it passes the negativity to you, and you suddenly start feeling anxious, that truly, the city is getting unsafe, and the crime rate has just surpassed all limits, and for the next few days, you look around 10 times when you walk the streets.

    The same impact is that movies like “RAAZ” or “ALONE”, you know there is no ghost in your bathroom that looks like Bipasha Basu, but you fear their existence, so avoid going to the washroom. :P

    I may be sounding like #Nonster, but what I mean is, how can we imbibe this positivity within us, which can drive off all negative energies, and keep us healthy?


    Start talking with friends and family who do not sympathize with your problems, but actually gives you words of support and strength to deal with those.


    Try avoiding people who carry negative energies. Often people indulging in PNPC, and complaints bring negativity with them, and pass it down to you. avoid such discussions. Brush off negative thoughts, with good conversations, about books, music, stories, films, awards.

    If something is bothering you too much, talk it out with your partner or friend, well I mean sharing negativity can reduce it to half, so that the best energies from both sides will double its existence for both.


    Talking will make you feel better, when the other person will understand you and try to comfort you with spirited words which you like, that will in turn make you feel positive.

    Your listener may also share his/her own experience, which will give you a positive boost that you are not alone in this situation.


    So smile and #BPositive, as Anil Kapoor said, but unlike him, do not just carry it as your blood group, but spread it across the world, among everyone you know, this will help to transmit positivity within a huge mass. J


  • 27 Jan
    Oyindrila Basu

    Teacher can be your best counselor



    “When I was in 10th standard, I was once revising my maths lesson for the exam in the next period, but in the sick room.

    The sick-room matron (a very dear lady), she took away my notebook, saying that studying should be done in class and not in the sickroom.

    In the next period, I went back to my maths class, and when my maths teacher asked for the notebook, I just said that matron had my notebook, so I should go and take it back.. maths teacher allowed without any further question.

    Later, she called me and charged me of lying to her, the fact that I did not admit my folly, and just put it as if it was the patron’s fault was just not right.

    She said that she, afterward spoke with the matron and found out that I was reading in the sick-room(which was not allowed) so she had taken my book away, and that I was extremely wrong in framing the sentence as per my convenience, so I should go and say sorry to the matron…. I broke into tears, because, I had not realized that hiding the incident was actually wrong; I had thought that it was not important or significant, but my teacher guided me through the process of this realization.” Anonymous.

    This is how teachers often educate us with several values which later help in our mental growth and development. The teacher could have just left the matter, or just punished the child outside class for 15mins, but that would never make her realize where she was wrong.

    This is how the role of a teacher transforms into a counsellor.

    Gone are the days, when counselling in a general social structure, was applied necessary for so-called eccentric people.

    Counselling in schools or educational institutions was a myth. Students will require counselling! Why? What problems do they have? In actuality, students only learnt from books and followed what was taught to them by parents.

    But in recent times, children are turning smarter, they are being exposed to complexities of situation, and in relation to that, their own problems are getting more complex.

    In an academic structure, earlier, counsellors were there only to give and receive forms at the back office. However, today they are an important segment of the body.

    Children need to be guided when it comes to what is good for them regarding their education. Which field of learning is suitable for them, and can give them better scope are discussed by the counsellor. Now these discussions are no longer generic. Each child is special, each have a different skill and competency in a unique field. It is the job of a counsellor to recognize this skill in them and boost them to pursue it further so that they can excel in the specific field.

    Besides, a psychological counsellor is also responsible for solving the problems of a child, which is disturbing him, or he needs to get rid of, so that, he can better accustom himself to his situations, and develop his mental strength and knowledge.

    Now if we observe closely, a teacher is a person, who can be an educator, a counsellor as well as a psychotherapist for a child.

    The role of a teacher as a counsellor, is a critical one. This idea dates back to the times of Socrates, so we often find in the writings of Plato, where Socrates behaves as counsellor for his students and followers.

    We know, that books cannot provide the entire knowledge, but institutions feel that teachers should teach, and professionally skilled personnel should be hired for work like student counselling. Actually, many teachers themselves fail to realize the essence of counselling; they fail to realize that in their words of wisdom, they are actually counselling the students.

    Counselling is not treating a mad man; it is about mental wellness as a whole.

    Teachers can be the best counsellor. No-one knows a student better than his own teacher, and what he is capable of. To be a good counsellor, a person should be a good friend to the student, and no-one can play the role better, but a teacher (if they want).

    The format of education is changing, so is the graph of teacher-student relationship. No longer we find teachers trying to make ‘murga’ of their students with a wooden ruler. Infact courses on education technology, train the teachers to be friendly with the students, so that they can share can confide things with their teachers, which they are unable to discuss with their parents.

    When this inter-personal relationship is developed, the teacher can guide the student with the idea of knowledge of right and wrong, what he should do, and what he should not, in a positive manner, where the child won’t feel that he is being lectured or humiliated.

    Many teenage problems like sudden crush affairs, or Internet hazards faced by students, can be easily solved by their teacher, if they confide them to him/her. The teacher can identify the source of the problem, empathize with them, and guide them with awareness and ideas, as to how they can deal with the nuisance.


    #PersonSpecificAttention is important requisite for a counsellor.

    Most teachers know their students’ academic qualities, especially; in a class, the class-teacher knows every single student well.

    So the teacher can best say, what subject should be pursued by the child in the future, which activities should be avoided by them and which activities can add to their mental health.

    The teacher should be the primordial force to guide and boost up the child for growing towards the achievement of excellence, in the subject that he most is proficient in; it can also be a co-curricular activity. If a student is not so good in maths, but great at sports, it is the duty of the teacher to identify that, and push him towards it. It is also his/her duty to make the parents understand that their child will shine out if he pursues his ambition, but will remain mediocre if he is forced into a general subject which the society calls him to do, for quicker job opportunities.