Sebastien Gendry is a leading American Laughterpreneur. A work-related burnout and ensuing journey towards recovery led him to discover and fall in love with the world of laughter in the early 2000s. He then played a major role in introducing Laughter Yoga in North America, Russia and other countries. He is the creator of the Laughter Wellness method, now practiced in 42 countries and counting. He has traveled over one million miles offering a variety of laughter programs to 1,000s of people on four continents, and continues to do so.
He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 minutes, ABC Good Morning America, National Public Radio and many more national media in the USA and abroad.
He is the Founder and CEO of the Laughter Online University (a leading provider of eLearning solutions on Laughter Therapy) and The Laughter Consultants, LLC (a team of professional wellbeing experts).
Sebastien encapsulates and shares the power of positive and playful energy and creativity. His authentic and engaging style motivates and empowers audiences with practical tools they can use to better their health and quality of life. This is so much more than being “not sick.” He is fluent in English, Spanish and French, and conversational in German.
- Laughter, wellness and wellbeing
- Quality of life / work-laugh balance
- Collaboration / Team bonding
- How to deal with change / Stress management
A more serious but equally inspiring topic is how to increase sales, revenue and market share.
- Started to sleep under his bed frame at age 4 because “all explorers sleep in a tent.”
- Fell in love with computers at age 14. Programming in BASIC replaced listening to international broadcastings on the AM shortwave frequency as his new hobby.
- Hitch-hiked around Southern Europe during his summer vacations at age 15 and 16, around Northern Europe at age 17, and around the world for the first time at age 18. (He has since done that over 22 times.)
- Developed a keen interest for writing and action photography in his late teens. Put that into practice by working for 4 years as a part-time sports journalist to pay for his travels and university studies. Juggled a 60 hours / week schedule between work and studying while his friends partied.
- Spoke 4 languages fluently by the time he was 21 (French, English, German, Spanish). Worked as a professional interpreter for the French army for 1 year. Learned Italian for fun in his down time.
- Soldiering made him fit. Ran 5 marathons and 1 ultra-marathon (100 kilometers).
- Worked for 18 months in the import-export trade out of Zagreb (Croatia), Vienna (Austria) and Hong Kong after obtaining his B.A. in international business from Angers University, France, then moved to London, UK, to work in the computer industry.
- Founded http://www.eims.biz with 2 partners in 1995 and opted out 7 years later for health and personal reasons. EIMS was already a multi million £ operation at that point.
- Developed an interest in the healing arts in 1998, trained for 3 years in his spare time in 9 different body-work and healing modalities and got professionally certified as Swedish, Sports, Thai, and Indian Head-Massage Therapist, Cranio-Sacral Therapy I and II, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Hatha Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master. Decided to become an Osteopathic Doctor in 2001, successfully passed the entry exams of the London School of Osteopathy, but unexpected events happened that summer and he opted for a different life path.
- Sebastien is one of the masterminds that helped shape Laughter Yoga to what it is today. He embraced this movement at a crucial time in its history, and played a major role in introducing it in the USA and other countries. He has personally inspired the creation of several hundred Community Laughter Clubs around the world.
The unexpected wit of Stanley Unwin (ask youtube and see for yourself.)
2. What is your favorite anecdote?
It’s easy for me to get distracted with mundane stuff when I get in a creative space. I have frequently tried to brush my teeth with shaving cream. Tried to take an airplane once 24 hours ahead of schedule.
3. What book changed your life?
Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda.
4. What books do you have on your bedside table?
No books anymore: it’s called an iPad that’s connected to the e-catalog of the L.A. library, which is to say a great number of libraries around the world. I read a lot and it’s simply amazing (and free.)
5. What books would you recommend?
The answer was, is, and always will be “it depends”: how full or hungry are you?
6. Do you have a writing routine?
By force: Yes. They’re called emails.
By choice: Yes, every single day, with the only exception of the days when I don’t write.
7. What are some of your personal quirks?
Am very health conscious and prepare/bake/cook/dehydrate/sprout most of everything I eat myself. Haven’t seen a TV add in years (I don’t have a TV and block online ads.) I use food and very simple things to heal people in my family. Haven’t been sick or taken medication since I left the army 23 years ago.
8. Do you think criticism helps any?
Not the beginning of the fraction of the shadow of 1.
9. Do you have any definite ideas or projects for the future?
Yes, and so should you. Always keep your dreams alive and do your best to achieve them. Our brain starts to die when we stop creating.
10. Who is your humor/comedy/laughter inspiration?
Jesus. (I’ve posted some pictures at http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/faith/)
11. In what place are you happiest?
12. What’s your favorite place to visit?
Sacred spaces. I love heart-opening vibrations.
13. What drives you on?
14. What is your biggest extravagance?
You’re a curious one, aren’t you.
Did a full round-the-world trip last summer (84 days) which I organized 2 months before, and got paid to do it.
15. What is your greatest achievement so far?
Who doesn’t love the Laughter Online University?
16. What is your greatest disappointment?
I once lost track of the essential and got involved into a lawsuit. I deeply regret not having had the courage to say “I’m not comfortable with this situation anymore. You keep the money. I’m off. Blessings to you. Bye.”
17. What is your most memorable experience with your audience?
In general: When hearts open, judgements vanish, we transcend duality and all become souls here, now, choosing to enjoy each other’s company.
In particular: The above doesn’t happen every time, but often enough to make it impossible to single out any one particular event.
18. How much of your work is autobiographical?
I don’t understand the question, so here is my answer: I am an Innerpreneur. If what I do doesn’t help me grow I don’t do it.
19. What is the best and worst thing of being an laughter wellness coach?
+ Being in a creative, open-hearted space.
– Having to run a business and being cerebral.
20. What is your take on life and death?
In general: What we each believe only matters as far as the impact it has on our everyday life. Are your beliefs helping you becoming daily a better version of yourself?
Specifically: I’d argue that most people are not afraid of dying but of truly living.
21. Do you believe in euthanasia?
I’m guessing you’re asking if I agree with it.
I refuse to give a general answer to what will always be specific situations. Kindly be more specific.
22. How would you like to be remembered?
A feeling of warmth in your heart, a big smile on your face, and a tear in your eye when you think of me.
23. Do you have an advice to the world?
Do more. Talk less. WWJD?
24. Do you believe in afterlife?
I do, and since it’s my opinion I am right.
25. Famous last words?
It is very beautiful over there.
Laughter is an untapped science that, used well, can have far-reaching positive implications for the body, mind and spirit. It cannot heal nor solve anything, but it can help to heal and dissolve everything. We now have more than enough scientific evidence to suggest what is experientially evident: laughter is a valid and most valuable therapeutic ally in healing.
Why isn’t this common knowledge? Besides the fact that lots more research is warranted, a possible reason is that, until recently, we didn’t really know how to use it as a reliable therapeutic tool. The spontaneous laughter of everyday life is beneficial, but hard to work with day after day and not enough if you want to use it for true healing purposes. Briefly tasting a candy once in a while does not have the same impact as eating a whole meal.
We also live in a world where very few things can make people laugh, while hundreds can make them frown, howl and cry. Many people lose track of the therapeutic values of laughter when stress and adversity knock at their door. “Why should we laugh?” they say. “It doesn’t pay the bills.” Society teaches that problems are serious and need to be addressed seriously. Laughter, on the other hand, is often perceived as frivolous and only relevant in its proper time and place.
Fortunately for us all, times have changed. There now exists a new laughter technology that offers a universally well-tolerated, sustainable, wellbeing solution throughout people’s lifespans. It is low-cost, easy to learn and implement, and requires no particular space, equipment or form of clothing. You don’t have to be happy. It uses no jokes or comedy. This new technology is based on the use of intentional laughter, which means that you already have all that’s required to make it work. In a sedentary age of sharply rising healthcare costs and mental health challenges, this ought to gain more public attention.
I was once an adamant critic of laughter therapy, claiming that faking laughter – ha ha ha – was the most idiotic thing on the planet and certainly not worthy of my attention. That’s until I realized two things. First I was the one who hardly ever laughed and was getting sicker year after year, while the laughing people I belittled claimed major health benefits. Second and most importantly: It’s not about faking anything, but choosing to engage in positive behaviors in an attempt to create the healing chemistry that invariably come with them. Choosing to remain positive and be comfortable with your imperfections and the challenges in your life does not mean you have to be complacent about them. You should not. Laughing about them is a sign of maturity. It’s a political act, a declaration of freedom, a demonstration that we are not afraid, that we refuse to let fear, anger, guilt or resentment win and rule our lives.
Laughing and understanding what it stands for saved my life and taught me how to live at peace, not in pieces. I invite you to learn more on this topic. There is depth.
Creator of the Laughter Wellness method
High resolution headshot and other pictures: http://www.sebastiengendry.com/bio/#pics