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February 2003, just after two in the morning, Purchas Court–Parkwood, University of Kent.

The pervasive smell of stale tobacco and cheap alcohol follows the last few party guests on their way out. Semi-empty, half-smashed plastic cups are scattered around the kitchen, the floor, the restrooms and on the stairs leading to the student rooms upstairs. On the inside of every plastic cup: alcohol, cigarette butts and . . . cauliflower florets.

Cauliflower florets! In every single cup!

No, this is not a random scene from a drunk vegan’s nightmare, nor the finale to a dystopian social satire by Stanley Kubrick.

It was the climax to a party I hosted with my housemate at university, and surely one of the funniest moments in my life.

The deejay’s console had been placed on a countertop over the freezer. Unbeknownst to him, the freezer contained bags of both crushed ice and bite-sized frozen cauliflower. At some point the ice bucket ran out of crushed ice, and the deejay grabbed the wrong bag to pass to whoever had asked for more. Due to the combination of alternating disco lights, loud music and our collective withering soberness, no one noticed that they were replenishing their cups with chilled cauliflower pieces instead of crushed ice.

The morning’s initial terror at the sight turned into neurotically hysterical laughter. To this day, reminiscing about this story with friends still gives us tears of joy.

A joke or funny moment can serve as a great icebreaker. The ability to laugh with life itself, as in the cauliflower story, supplies us with intense positive feelings and satisfaction, and helps create positive memories and nurture bonds with other people. According to some research, people who enjoy humour are one-third more likely to be happier.[i] Laughter also has numerous health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, boosting the immune system, improving mood and increasing pain tolerance. It also enhances social connections and fosters a sense of well-being.[ii]

Here’s another cool thing: laughter causes our body to release endorphins. Have you ever seen anyone lifting weights and laughing at the same time? Chances are you haven’t, because endorphins have a calming effect on our muscles and reduce tension.[iii] While it is possible to engage in physical activity while laughing, it may be challenging if the activity requires significant effort or concentration. Similarly, it’s incompatible to fight and laugh at the same time, so one could easily rephrase the proverbial advice to ‘Make laugh, not war’.

Laughter is a great way, then, to increase both our life satisfaction and the quality of our relationships, and to ameliorate our propensity for aggression.

What about you?

Do you pursue fun and joyful interactions? Or do you self-sabotage and impede your joy in fear of losing control?

As always I look forward to your thoughts below!


PS: The above text includes an extract from my latest book “The MARVEL of Happiness: Principles, Stories and Lessons for Living Fully”. All rights reserved.

[i] David Niven, The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It (HarperOne, 2006).

[ii] Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A. and Jeanne Segal, Ph. D., ‘Laughter Is the Best Medicine’, HelpGuide.Org, 28 February 2023 ( articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm).

[iii] Mayo Clinic Staff, ‘Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke’, 29 July 2021 (

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