This post first appeared on June 23, 2015.
Have you had a good laugh lately? I mean, a really deep laugh, the kind that leaves you breathless and limp? Maybe the kind that grows out of great gulping sobs, and before you know it, it's laughter instead of crying. Or the opposite - it starts with a giggle, and ends with tears streaming down your face.
That’s my favorite kind of laugh right there. The kind where I start out laughing at something a little bit funny, and the longer I think about it, the funnier it gets. In fact, at some point I might not even be sure what I’m laughing about - the original funny thing, or the fact that I can’t. stop. laughing.
As I sit here drinking my coffee, I notice that my mug says on it, “learn to laugh.” And I think, umm, yeah, ok, I know *how* to laugh, I’m a laughing fool, a grade-A laugher, laughter is awesome, the best medicine, yeah. I just haven’t seen or heard anything that funny in a while.
And that thought is enough to make me chuckle. Because life - LIFE - is hilarious. Think about it - billions of itty bitty invisible atoms organizing themselves according to some mysterious plan, constantly shifting and changing and moving, creating everything we perceive, and for what? I daresay, for our amusement!
I recently saw a stand-up comedian and a pastor do a show together (funny, right? no, not just funny - hilarious!) Pete Holmes and Rob Bell teamed up and went on tour, talking about life and joy and wonder and honesty - look 'em up, you’re in for a treat if they’re new to you. One of the many things that has stuck with me in the weeks since then is a refreshed sense of amusement at the world. It’s as if my joy-meter got a reset, and I am better able to see humor in things that formerly felt too dry or too painful or too mysterious to evoke laughter.
That's not to say I’m a sadist - not in the least. I am empathetic and I know that there are times for tears, there is always a need for compassion. I’m not talking about laughter at the expense of someone else. I’m talking about being quicker to laugh at myself. At my circumstances, at things that pop up in my daily life. I do it consciously. I look for the amusement angle. And trust me, there is always an amusement angle. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s a little harder to find underneath my gut reaction. But when I remind myself that everything, everything, can be boiled down to invisible bits of universe dust in motion, man, I crack myself up!
And I really believe that a huge perk of this human existence, one reason we are all here, one reason our atoms dance around and make “us,” is for our own amusement. That there’s a great cosmic joke, and we’re all in on it, and we’re all part of it, and at the end of the day, we can’t really do anything but laugh at ourselves. At the silly things we hold on to, at the crazy ways we behave, at the beautiful inexplicable things we get to see and hear and touch and taste and do and experience. And there’s the purpose behind that laughter - it lightens things up. It makes our existence brighter, it releases joy into the world and shifts the energy of our experience and touches others and lights them up, too. It raises the vibration of the planet, and makes the little dirt ball we’re riding as we hurtle uncontrollably through space a more pleasant place to exist.
Wanna play, too? Try this: join me in a good laugh. Commit to finding the amusement angle in as many experiences as you possibly can. Laugh to yourself, laugh out loud, dare to be a little ridiculous in your pursuit of hilarity. Don’t do it because my coffee cup said to, do it for your own…I can’t help myself here…amusement.
And notice what happens.