Home » Ida Abdalkhani: Happier in 5 Minutes at TEDxOhioStateUniversity (Transcript)

Ida Abdalkhani: Happier in 5 Minutes at TEDxOhioStateUniversity (Transcript)

Ida Abdalkhani

Here is the full transcript of Ida Abdalkhani’s TEDx Talk: Happier in 5 Minutes at TEDxOhioStateUniversity conference. 

Ida Abdalkhani – Founder & President of Ability to Engage

An astonishing 83% of Americans are stressed about their jobs, and about one in two of us struggle to stay happy. In fact, I’m one of them.

What about you? I’m here to help you with that today by teaching you one thing and one thing only: how to laugh for no reason at all. Why? Because when we laugh, our bodies release a flood of chemicals and positive neurotransmitters that stimulate our brains, our immune system, and our nervous systems. In fact, when we laugh, our blood flow increases by about 50%. That’s how we get the rosy cheeks. And laughing can actually burn calories.

If you were to laugh for about 15 minutes a day, everyday of the year, you can lose up to five pounds. All of these benefits intrigued me about laughter yoga, but I still had no idea what to expect when I went to my first class.

The instructor started by giving us background on how laughter yoga was started in 1995 by a doctor in India. He found that our bodies and minds can’t discern the differences between fake and real laughter. So we don’t need a comedian, and we don’t need a catalyst to reap the real benefits of laughter.

So I said, “Sign me up.” And so we started. We warmed up with pranayama yogic breathing, and then things started to get uncomfortable. I had to laugh for no reason. The instructor could sense my nervousness so she looked at me, and she said, “Ida, fake it till you make it.” Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Awkward. But it worked. It took the pressure off. It showed me that I shouldn’t worry about what other people think or how it felt. The endgame is a healthy life.

I had to believe that I deserve to be happy, and I deserve to laugh. And so do you. So that’s what we’re going to do today: fake it till we make it.

We’re going to laugh for no reason at all because science tells us that within 45 to 90 seconds, your body will start to release that flood of positive neurotransmitters, and within about two minutes, fake laughter becomes real. So here we go.

Who’s ready to laugh? All right. I need everyone to stand up. Get the blood flowing. OK. There are two primary techniques to laughter yoga: the first is breathing. The focus is on filling up our diaphragm increasing our amount of oxygen and helping our blood flow.

The second is, of course, laughter. The focus here is on deep belly laughter. This increases the circulation of our lymphatic systems and it jump-starts our immune systems. OK, so to warm up, I want everyone to take a deep breath in, raise your hands towards the ceiling, and I want you to let your breath out with an audible “Hwoo”. I want you to push it out Ready? Go! Hwoo!

(Audience) Hwoo!

Nice job. OK. One more time. Deep breath in, fill up your lungs. This time you’re going to laugh on your exhale. Ready? Go!


One more time, deep breath in, fill up your lungs. From the bottom of your belly, let it out! Hahahahahahahahaha! Nice job OK.

Now we are warmed up. For our first laughter yoga exercise, we’re going to do something called “cell phone laughter”. Speaking on our cell phones is something we do everyday, but today we’re going to make it more fun. I want you to pretend that you just heard the funniest story in the world. Get out your fake cell phones.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Just have fun with it. Take a deep breath in and laugh.


Somebody is hearing some really funny stories up here, up front; it’s good stuff. For our second laughter yoga exercise, we’re going to do one of my favorites, “Shaking-hands laughter”,

Shaking hands is something that we do everyday, and it helps us connect with others. But today, we’re going to amplify it and connect with laughter as well. I want you to shake hands with those around you. But you’re going to look them in the face, and you’re going to laugh Ready? Deep breath in and laugh.

Hahahahaha! High five! Hahahahahahaha!

Thank you. I can tell you guys are getting the hang of it, this is great. For our last exercise, I’m actually going to have you guys decide what we laugh about. I want you to take a moment and reflect about something that has been stressing you out the past few days. We’re going to take that, and we’re going to use it as a way to remind ourselves that we can’t always change the outcomes in life, but we can change how we react to them.

So what’s something that’s been stressing you guys out lately? Go ahead. Yell it out.

You all are stressed about a lot of stuff, but I heard cell phone bills a few times, so let’s use that. I want you to pull out your outrageous cell phone bill with all its crazy roaming charges and overages. We’re going to take a minute to remind ourselves that while we can’t change the outcome of that crazy cell phone bill, we can forgive ourselves, we can laugh for a moment, and we can have fun with it.

So deep breath in. And laugh at your cellphone bill. Hahahahahaha!

Thank you. I don’t know if you realized it or not, but you just laughed for about 5 minutes, and I didn’t tell you a single joke. We actually laugh about 300 times a day as children, but only 30 as adults.

I hope this has shown you how easy it is to bring laughter back into your life to feel lighter and happier, and to laugh. It’s within your power to make your narrative a joyful one. You decide.

Thank you.

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