When was the last time you laughed?
Posted on April 09 2017
It’s been claimed that children laugh more than 300 hundred times a day while adults laugh less than 20 times a day. Whether that number is accurate or not, what is evident is that there seems to be a shift as we grow into adulthood. We become so serious about life and forget why we’re really here – to express ourselves with joy. We chase fortunes and advancement until we drive ourselves to the brink of exhaustion, depression and failing health, then we spend our entire fortune trying to find ways to heal and turn back the damage we’ve caused.
“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.” George Gordon Byron
I’m a pretty happy person but I often find myself so caught up in the stress of daily life that I forget to be present, to really feel the joy of being. Most of us are waiting for our lives to perfectly line up to finally be happy. We forget that happiness is relative.
Once upon a time, an old farmer lived in a poor country village. His neighbors considered him well-to-do because he owned a horse, which he used for many years to work his crops. One day his beloved horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors gathered to commiserate with him. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors rejoiced. “May be,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again, the neighbors visited the farmer to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be,” said the farmer. The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “May be,” the farmer replied.
Unhappiness exists in everything that has the possibility of making us “happy”, it’s part of the duality of life – a system of checks and balances. So, how do we find peace in unhappiness, grace in misery and gratitude in uncertainty? I think laughter is the key. It softens the hard edges the mind has formed to protect itself, it breaks down barriers and instantly lightens the load of everyday life. I laugh a lot but even then, I often ask myself, “when was the last time you laughed?” Something happens when I do this, I immediately become conscious and aware of all that is happening around me and most especially within.
“So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter.” Gordon W. Allport
Life is not easy and we often complicate things even more with unconscious actions. We surround ourselves with people, jobs and situations that drain the life and the joy out of us; we spend most of our time worrying and being upset about things that may or may not happen, things that have happened or things that we’re afraid of. We spend our seconds and minutes fighting shadows. Laughter cuts though the darkness and the shadows. Physically, it also helps boost our mood, it helps relieve stress, stimulate many organs, and increase endorphins. Steve Wilson, the founder of The World Laughter Tour notes that “Muscular tension is released when you laugh. Your digestion is better. It helps heart rate. It helps blood flow.”
“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” Daniel Kahneman
Our lives are a culmination of moments–not good and bad moments or important and insignificant moments–just pure moments. We often forget that each moment carries equal value and serves a purpose. When we fight or reject a moment, it’s like a prisoner banging his head on the steel rods that surround him in an attempt to get out. The only thing getting dented is his head. Our goal should always be to honor each moment as it is, knowing that all is flux and always changing; our goal is to understand that freedom is a state of mind. Using laughter as a driver for inner peace especially in times we view as tumultuous is a very easy step to take, but then the world’s most complicated questions often have very simple answers.
I implore you to take a few extra minutes and watch the video below. This is who you are at your core –not damaged or jaded or afraid or too busy with life to just be. You are pure, undiluted joy. Don’t ever forget that.