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Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new Government

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why Don't Germans Laugh?

From the Weekly Standard:
The UK's Telegraph newspaper published an interesting report last week, the upshot of which was that Germans laugh very little. 
One in three Germans laughs fewer than five times a day. "When they do allow themselves a chuckle," writes the Telegraph, "it's more likely than not to be at the expense of others, with 77 per cent [of Germans] saying they liked to laugh at others' misfortune." 
The Telegraph points out also that the Germans invented the concept of schadenfreude. According to the New York Times, the former German chancellor Helmut Kohl once said that Germans were "so afraid to laugh that they would hide in the basement to do it."  
The Times related Kohl's remark in in a 2005 piece on the establishment of German "laughter schools," where Germans learn to force themselves to laugh—mechanically—in order to relieve stress. 
"For decades, we Germans have been the grandmasters of depression," said the schools' founder Heiner Uber: 
"At Uber's laughing class in Munich, the session began with participants sitting in a circle and stretching, before moving on to the laughs. Uber instructed the students to clap their hands and breathe deeply to get the blood circulating. Then he told them to march in circles around the room chanting 'ho-ho-ha-ha-ha-ha." 
"Uber emphasized that wannabe gigglers could train their bodies to laugh long and hard without having to resort to telling jokes… 
Laughing has been a lifelong vocation for Uber, who grew up in postwar Munich in a household where his father, a former Nazi soldier, forbade his children to laugh at the dinner table… his mother warned him at age 5 that "only stupid people laugh." 
The Telegraph reported on similar German laughter classes in 2004, in an article titled "How do you make a German laugh? Take him to a humor trainer's lecture." 
Thomas Holtbernd, the humor trainer in question, explained to the Telegraph that "For too long humor has been a taboo in many areas of life in Germany." 
Laughter, says Holtbernd, is key to health, happiness, success, and workers' productivity. He teaches his students that "there are five types of laughter, hey, hee, ha, ho and hoo."
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