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Laugh Track

Could a hearty chuckle be the key ingredient in the success of your business?

Business is no laughing matter--or is it? Absolutely, according to Sushil Bhatia, founder of the Laughing Clubs of America. Modeled after a concept that's sweeping through India, the organization promotes a combination of laughter, yoga and meditation as stress therapy. The 30- to 45-minute sessions--which require nothing other than a willingness to laugh--pay off in a more positive attitude, relaxation and a strengthened immune system, according to Bhatia.

As CEO and co-founder of Kriticka, a software services provider in Southboro, Massachusetts, Bhatia practices what he preaches. Every morning, he holds a voluntary session where he and his employees (90 percent attend) spend five to 10 minutes meditating and doing yoga, followed by laughing exercises that range from the no-holds-barred boisterous guffaw to the silent, yet hearty, open-mouthed variety.

If the idea of cackling in concert with your staff makes you cringe, consider the benefits: "Any tensions dissipate out of the body," Bhatia says. "People relax, start opening up more. With a lighter frame of mind, they are more creative."

Bhatia also gives employees 20 minutes daily to meditate. "Meditating for 20 minutes in the afternoon is equal to four hours of sleep," he contends. "When they go back to work, they can be as productive as they were first thing in the morning."

He does the same. "For entrepreneurs, [meditation] puts things in the right perspective. It's serious enough starting a business and trying to run it, but you have to look at the lighter side of things. Entrepreneurs can achieve that by relaxing."

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This article was originally published in the February 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Laugh Track.

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