Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. ~Kurt Vonnegut
They say that you should laugh for at least 12 seconds every day. Even if nothing funny’s happened. Even if you’re just sitting in your car, by yourself, in the parking lot of some fast food restaurant listening to songs from the musical Rent. And yes, that did happen. And I’ll be honest. The songs were from Glee.
They say laughing improves your well-being; it makes you healthier, makes you feel better. And I’ll admit, it’s hard to argue with that. But what is laughing? What is this hacking, hawking noise that varies from deep, bellowing chuckles, to tiny, pin needle snickers?
I don’t know. But I sure like doing it.
I used to take karate lessons when I was younger (and not to brag—which by saying that automatically indicates that yes, in fact, I am going to brag—I was a black belt, national competitor). Once at a private lesson with my brother, we were supposed to spar one another. However, we couldn’t even stare at the other without bursting into uncontrollable, riotous laughter. And this lasted for close to twenty minutes. (The only reason we stopped was from fear that our teacher was going to roundhouse kick us in the face.)
This incident of random laughter, and others like it, may not be the norm now. In fact, a lot of people say laughter is a response to suffering. And I get that. For instance, when my friend got a new phone for Christmas, he wanted to demonstrate how resilient his new case for it was by dropping his phone on the floor.
It wasn’t very resilient.
Or when my friend (the same friend—for I don’t have many) was bragging to us about what a great grade he was going to get in a class. Only to find that when he gathered us all around the computer to witness, he had an email from the teacher saying he had forgotten to turn in an assignment.
I tried to convince him that a ‘C’ kind of looked like an ‘A’ if you turned it sideways, but he didn’t find that as funny as I did.
There is a point, however, when laughing at suffering is no longer appropriate. But sometimes I want to challenge this. I wish we could laugh at everything, every evil, every wrong, every absurd thing that happens in this grandly absurd world.
For if we could truly laugh off every terrible thing that happened to us, wouldn’t we be in a better state affairs? Not to say that we should abandon all forms of punishment for wrongful acts, or simply laugh off atrocious crimes, but if we had the capability to look sorrow, agony, or misfortune in the eye and laugh until they turned their nose up and refused to return, I feel we would be a happier, healthier bunch.
So the next time you’re in a meeting where your boss is reaming you for some mistake you made, imagine how he or she would respond if you just unbuttoned your pants, pulled them to your ankles, and stood there without saying a word. Or the next time you get a bad grade or get loaded with extra work, think how funny it would be go up to that teacher or boss and just start eating the paper right in front of them without even an introduction.
Nothing’s quite so scary or quite so devastating when you’re laughing at it. So give it a shot. Worst comes to worst, at least you got your 12 seconds of laughing in for the day.