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Smiling at Strangers and Ideas Worth Spreading

Jueves, 24 de Setiembre de 2015

Lee nuestro nuevo artículo de Octubre.

There are so many expressions involving the word ‘laugh’ in the English language. Someone can be “a laugh,” which means that they are a lot of fun. To “have a laugh” means, simply, to have fun. To “laugh your head off” means to have a lot of fun; to laugh, a lot. In text language, “ROFL” means “rolling on the floor laughing,” which is basically the same as to “laugh your head off.” It is interesting, but not surprising, that being “a laugh” is such a positive attribute. Laughing is, after all, one of the best things we can do: there’s a reason for the proverb “Laughter is the best medicine,” and Charles Darwin noted that just the act of smiling is enough to make us feel better.

Just like a conversation with a loved one or a good night’s rest after a long day can make you feel better, a good laugh can brighten up any morning, afternoon or evening. “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people,” said the Danish comedian and musician Victor Borge, and I absolutely agree. To share a laugh with someone is to share something both silly and profound, and so very important in daily life. I had a friend at university who used to wear a t-shirt with the words “smile at strangers” written across the front in capital letters. A study conducted by a university in Indiana proved that a smile and nod from an unknown passer-by helped people feel more socially connected than those who were ignored - a lesson we should probably all consider.

But while smiling at strangers may be a good thing to do, it may be more difficult for some than others. Not everyone is an extrovert, and learning to smile at yourself - and whatever situation you might find yourself in - can also be a worthwhile thing to do. American journalist and broadcaster Linda Ellerbee has said that “a good time to laugh is any time you can” - some more advice that is worth taking to heart.

TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.” It describes itself as a global community who “believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.” The organisation itself is now over 30 years old, but in recent years has become well-known for the huge amount of talks available on its website. Although available in many languages, to watch a talk about a topic that interests you in English would be a fantastic way to further your language learning outside class, and might even inspire you. Its front page currently features talks about topics ranging from climate change to gender equality to falling in love, and it was watching a talk by a charismatic young man named Ron Gutman entitled The Hidden Power of Smiling with my class that made me think of writing something about the subject, and more importantly made me - and my students, too, I think! - really contemplate smiling, and laughter, and how necessary these things really are.

So watch a TED talk, if you have a spare few minutes. Smile at a stranger, if you feel like it. More than anything else, though: have a laugh, next time you can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9cGdRNMdQQ 

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