Laughter is the shortest distance between two people

We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we are happy because we laugh. — William James

Laughter has long been described as a powerful antidote — nature’s medicine to remedy all kinds of ails. The benefits of laughing have been extensively researched, with numerous studies unsurprisingly revealing that laughter has a significant positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing, our feelings of connection and relationships with others and, notably, our physical health too. And who doesn’t love the joy and warmth that laughter brings?

All of us would be able to recall moments where laughter has taken over: belly-aching, uncontrollable happiness suddenly unleashed, often beginning with a giggle before rapturous cackles and heaving guffaws fill the air. When reminiscing with friends or flicking through family photographs, these moments of laughter are later referred to as happy memories.

Dickens once wrote that "there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour", and spending much of my time in the Junior School and ELC on our Grey Street campus I know this to be true. At recess and lunch, during playtimes and sports carnivals, in classrooms, hallways and stairwells, laughter fills the spaces of our school. Laughter and humour build connection and positive relationships, and teachers can harness the powerful effects of humour and laughter to increase happiness, enhance learning and improve student outcomes.

One such explosion of laughter, where endorphins surged through the School, was at this week’s Assembly. Ably led by our Head Girls Annabel, Pepper and Grace, Junior School teachers Mr Bond, Mrs Elliot and Mrs Farrell and I took to the stage in a rowing ERG competition. The noise was wonderful, as 500 students roared with excitement. Similarly, our Joke of the Week has provided ongoing opportunities to laugh together — albeit some funnier than others!

Most importantly, however, it is the sense of community these shared experiences of laughter bring. It is said that we forget what people say, but we always remember how they made us feel. I hope that long after our students graduate from the Junior School, it is the moments of laughter that they remember most — recalling the feeling of being part of a community filled with joy and happiness, and where they can be silly, be their truest self, and laugh.

Mr Peter McDonald
Head of Junior School and ELC