In fact, as adults we keep ourselves from laughing most of the time, averaging only 13 laughs each day. Amazing. What in the world happens between preschool and adulthood? Why do we laugh on the average 387 times less each day?
I can already hear you responding. Something like “Of course 4-year-old children can laugh 400 times a day. It’s easy to laugh when your life is not filled with the stresses and strains of paying bills, maintaining a clean home, putting up with hassles in the office, planning family vacations, tending to the lawn, disciplining children ...”
OK, I get your point. Our adult list of everyday stressors seems endless, doesn’t it? Come to think of it, maybe we should feel lucky if we manage 13 laughs a day!
Children do understand — at least in part — the pressures of adulthood. They readily learn these pressures from moms and dads who daily seem overwhelmed by life. That’s why some preschoolers, when “playing adult,” become very sober, slump their shoulders, and walk heavily. But it’s not just their physical appearance that changes. Even their voice takes on a more serious quality.
Overhearing the very serious tones of two 4-year-old children playing house, one preschool teacher told me that she couldn’t resist eavesdropping. The little boy and girl had become engrossed in a heated argument over how they were going to pay the mortgage that month. Fortunately, the pretend ended and they were able to return to their normal, lively, giggly selves. What a relief!
How might we return to laughing as a way of life? I’m not unrealistic here. I’m hoping for maybe 100 laughs a day, even with the many stresses and strains of life.
First, and foremost, if we are to return to a life of laughter, we must learn not to sweat the small, insignificant stuff. We can do this by maintaining the perspective that most of life’s worries are over small, insignificant stuff. Can you tell me what you were worrying about one year ago today? It may have seemed significant at the time, but now for the life of you, I bet you can’t even remember. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Second, if we are to return to a life of laughter, we must remain flexible. Life is full of ironies, paradoxes, confusion and inconsistencies. Trying to keep everything in a logical order makes about as much sense as banging your head against a brick wall. In fact, banging your head against a brick wall probably makes more sense and is less painful.
Learn to go with the flow. Of course, there are battles in life we encounter that are worth fighting and we should have the energy and integrity to fight them. But we can’t fight every battle. So choose your battles wisely and then at all other times learn to go with the flow.
Third, if we are to return to a life of laughter, we must make a decision to live with joy. Do you really want to be happy? Most of us are surrounded with blessings far too numerous to count, but we remain unhappy because we have made a decision, for one reason or another, not to be happy.
Look for reasons to laugh, and you will discover to your absolute amazement the number of times each day you do laugh. And once you laugh more, you might just feel better. As was said more than a thousand years ago, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
Warning — should you take this advice, many serious adults will think you have lost your mind, which, of course, is just something else to laugh about. Who knows, in time, you may even be laughing 200 times a day.