Have you ever stopped to think about the things that make you laugh? I want you to take a moment and remember a few of them, because most people never bother to do this. It requires a great deal of self-awareness.
Laughter is a spontaneous reaction and we never stop to censor it to process the reasons behind it. A lot of what we laugh about is very dark and it requires wisdom to see this, because we’re so used to laughing quickly, then moving on with our lives.
Have you ever laughed when you saw someone trip or get hurt? Most people will probably answer, “No, I would never do that,” because when we stop to think about it, that sounds really terrible to laugh at! Yet, the slapstick comedy routine of slipping on a banana peel exists for a reason.
We laugh when we see someone get verbally zinged, yelling “Burn!” We laugh at inappropriate, sarcastic memes we find online. Those of us with a really dark sense of humor still laugh at the woodchipper scene in Fargo. In a physical sense, tickling actually kind of hurts, but still it causes us to laugh. What we actually laugh most often at are moments of emotional or physical pain.
Ask yourself: am I laughing because something about this situation is just wrong?
I actually cannot find anything I have laughed about that hasn’t been because of an element of pain or the result of something negative. I would challenge you to question yourself when you next laugh, because I’m willing to bet that it is something dark at the core.
When you’re ready to admit it, consider how we can use that to our advantage. Life, when you think about it, is really a struggle every day. If we’ve already taught ourselves how to laugh at small moments of pain, that could easily be applied to all of the struggles. When you look at it that way, life is funny.
Laughing at pain seems ridiculous, so I want to take a moment to recognize the absurd moments that cause us to laugh. My latest example is that my youngest, Quentin, came home from Kindergarten yesterday talking about a visit from the local Audubon Society. They introduced his class to a bald eagle with a twisted beak. He explained that they had tried bird braces, but it hadn’t done enough.
At this point, I burst out laughing. Bird braces? The vision in my head was hilarious. It was absurd.
Still, that’s a little dark, when you think about it. I was laughing at our nation’s bird with a damaged beak. It almost makes you stop and wonder about all the absurd moments.
We have the idea that laughter is therapeutic and offsets negative events in our lives. But what if that is because we’re only laughing to manage the negative in the first place? Suddenly, a whole world of possibility is open to us when we face a negative situation. We can choose anger or humor – it is as simple as that.
Certainly, there are moments that call for anger, but the rest, just maybe, are times when we need to lighten up a bit. So the next time your toddler throws your keys in the toilet, you may as well choose to laugh. The rest of us will be.