I haven’t laughed as much or as hard as I did tonight in a long, long time. I missed it.
After the unpleasant event that occurred last weekend, my vibes were totally off this week. I haven’t been nearly as productive as I wanted to be. In addition to going through all kinds of stress (justified or otherwise), my overall physical well-being has been a bit…crap. From time to time, I experience these annoying episodes of not feeling very well. Things have certainly been worse in the past, so I’m extremely grateful that I seem to be getting better overall. However, when things go south, it can be pretty painful and debilitating. Not being able to do the things I would like to do, but am too weak to accomplish tends to make me feel like a worthless loser (lol).
For anyone who deals with any type of chronic illness or ongoing condition, I’m sure someone out there can relate to the frustration I go through. I just want to be productive and happy without being slowed down by a body that prefers to frequently rebel against me, you know? Having gone through this for a few years, I know how important it is for me to consistently focus on things that make me feel good and help me to inject more joy into my life. However, my preoccupation with everyday life has caused me to forget the benefit of laughter.
Do you ever sit back and wonder whatever happened to the old you? I mean, the you from the past, back when you were younger. I definitely do this from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like myself more at this age than I ever did in the past, so I have zero desire to go back in time. However, no matter what I do, I sometimes feel as though I’m just not the same person as I was. It feels like something crucial is missing from the fabric of who I am. But of course, a person who is in their thirties shouldn’t be the same as they were at, say, 18—that would be a problem! There is no doubt that I’ve changed since then, but even still, I feel as though there are some aspects of a person that should always remain intact.
Imagination. Wonder. Magic. A Lack of Inhibition. These are things that I believe are key ingredients for pure happiness; the kind of joy children experience so effortlessly. However, as we age, I think many people replace the “childish” version of happiness with the kind of “happiness” that comes from the pursuit of stuff. Some think they’ll find happiness in their careers. Some search for it in a mate. Other people might focus on acquiring a big house, a fancy car, the perfect body. While there’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to be successful in one’s field of work or saving money for a dream, the day to day responsibilities of our lives often drown out the more simplistic needs of our inner child: the desire to play and laugh. I know I am very guilty of this.
So when I found myself at the end of my day and completely drained, I didn’t know quite what to do. I felt like I needed to do something different that would rejuvenate me, but what? None of my normal hobbies appealed to me. Besides, I was too mentally and physically tired to be bothered with them. The vast majority of my hobbies are related to my goals and aspirations, so even when I’m not actually working, I am still doing things that aren’t necessarily about me having fun (even though they are enjoyable). Instead, I do them with the mindset of improving myself. Acquiring more knowledge. Learning a new marketable skill. Sharpening existing skills. Researching options. My idea of “fun” activities has been warped into things that are “efficient” or “financially beneficial”.
Then it hit me: Why can’t I just have fun for the sake of having fun anymore? Why does everything I do have to have some underlying motive? Why must everything relate to self-improvement in the way that the world would define it? Can’t having fun be just as beneficial to me as anything I’d normally do?
That’s when I decided to sit down with Prime Video and watch a recording of a live standup comedy show (I actually watched two). At first, I didn’t think that I would enjoy myself. Laugh on purpose? Pfft! I don’t have time for that. Even though I once enjoyed comedic shows and movies (especially standup), it is something I’ve slowly, but surely “grown out of” over the years. As I watched one standup movie and then another, I realized that I’d completely forgotten how fun it is to laugh on purpose. Don’t get it twisted though, I do laugh. I’m not some emotionless robot rusting in some corner. But if you knew how much I used to laugh, well, I guess you could call me R2D2 in comparison.
There used to be a time when I’d laugh so much I’d cry. I used to laugh so much I couldn’t breathe, my entire face would turn red and my abs would hurt like hell. I would laugh like this on a daily basis. These days, I do laugh, but it isn’t quite the same. If I’m perfectly honest with you guys, I probably laugh to prevent myself from crying…just to trick my brain into thinking everything is fine until it really is. With everything I’ve been through and everything I’m still dealing with, I now have to make a genuine effort to laugh the way I once did. Unfortunately, it has been far too rare an occurrence. I realize now that this was what was missing from my life. True laughter. Fun for the sake of having fun.
I’m not going to lie. I probably managed to select two of the raunchiest, most politically incorrect and offensive standup shows on there. It was crude, lewd and nothing short of rude, but I laughed my head off. It felt amazing; I was so happy. For two hours I just sat and laughed without thinking about my life, my goals or my problems. I wasn’t fretting about my diet or whether or not my packages will arrive in one piece today. There wasn’t any overwhelming anxiety about not being “productive enough” or wasting my time. I just cackled and shrieked with glee without caring who heard me. It was such a simple Friday night activity, but in the brief span of time, I remembered what it felt like to be my old self again. It was lovely.
No matter who you are or what you think you have to do in life, balance is so important. It’s good to have goals, work hard and push yourself to achieve amazing things in life. I think it can actually be healthy. However, as we’re out here reaching for the stars, it is also good to allow ourselves the opportunity to partake in some of the simple things in life. Perhaps watching a funny movie isn’t world changing like working to end world hunger or to find the cure to cancer, but life isn’t about doing big things 24/7.
To truly live is to embrace and take advantage of the fullness of our human experience. Nothing in this world is built on the premise of complete totality. Nothing is all good or all bad. Nothing in this world requires all work or all play. There is a proper time and place for all of the varying experiences life has to offer. Besides, good things come in small, simple packages too.
While we may have hands that are capable of creating and legs meant for journeying, we must ask ourselves, “What then is laughter for?” People all around the world speak as many different tongues as there are colors, but when we smile, all smiles are the same. All laughter is the same. These are not only visual and auditory indicators of peace, tranquility, happiness and good will, but they are universal behaviors that all humans share.
I believe laughter was given to us to serve as the best medicine ever. You don’t need insurance. You can’t overdose. There’s no weird side effects. It’s all natural. It won’t cost you a single penny. Best of all, it works better if you share it with others. When you laugh like you mean it, everything in the world starts to look better. Even if the feeling doesn’t last all day, genuine laughter feels too amazing not to be good for your health (and mind).
So if you’re feeling down, not at your best or just need something to help pep you up, treat yourself to a good old fashioned laugh. Laugh like you’re five years old. Heck, laugh until you pee your pants and wake the neighbors.
You won’t regret it, I promise 🙂