Students at Fudan University are being invited to laugh away their cares and concerns by joining a new club set up by members of the faculty.
The "Heartfelt Laughing Club", which opened earlier this month, was set up by the university's psychological consultancy center, which helps students to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life.
"While the club is still in its infancy, we are confident it will be a success, " Zhou Ye, a spokesperson for the university, said.
Li Shuzhen, a psychologist with the center and one of the club's founders, said: "We have already had more than 10 students coming to the club."
Li said the idea for the club came to her when she recalled telling her parents about the TV sitcom "My Own Swordman", which debuted on CCTV-1 during last year's Spring Festival and has been rescreened several times since.
"It wasn't the way I told the story, but because I was laughing so much, my parents started laughing too," Li said. "That's when I realised that laughter is contagious and that it can be very influential."
Li discussed her idea with colleagues before putting forward a plan for the club to the university's administration.
Zhou Ye said that before submitting the plan, the psychologists carried out a lot of research into similar clubs around the world.
"By surfing the Internet we found out about a laughter club in Shenzhen, which was the first in China," Li said.
After further research, Li and her colleagues discovered that the world's first club was set up in Bombay, India by physician Madan Kataria.
Kataria opened the first of his Laughing Clubs International in March 1995. Within a year there were more than 80 clubs throughout India, and today there are several thousand around the world.
Li said that club members generally gather in parks in the morning before work. They then raise their arms into the air to ease inhibitions, and then start laughing - loudly at first, then silently with the mouth closed, and finally silently with the mouth open.
Li said that sometimes the laughter is coupled with yoga - Kataria's wife is a yoga coach - to create laughing meditation.
The organizers of the Fudan University laughing club plan to hold training sessions for the students and psychologists to help build team spirit.
"After we have built up trust between the members, we will practise laughing meditation together, at first with help from a soothing environment, good music and funny masks," Li said.
"We hope our members will encourage other students, especially those feeling stressed, to find a release by laughing out loud," Li said.
Source: China Daily