I love my laugh. It’s my favorite thing about me.
(I know, in a society that values modesty above all other things, that’s not exactly something that you’re supposed to say. You’re not supposed to have favorite things about yourself; other people can have favorite things about you and give you compliments and you take them graciously, but you never admit that you agree. Well, I think that’s kind of silly, because if you love something about yourself, you should own it. But I digress.)
Someone once told me that my laugh is the kind of thing people know they’ve earned, that makes them feel good about themselves, because they feel like they were genuinely funny enough to earn such a reaction. It’s a loud laugh, because I’ve never been able to learn how to make it quieter and I’ve never bothered to try. I’ll giggle when I’m nervous — because I can never keep a straight face when I’m really freaked out — or I’ll text a polite ‘lol’ when I don’t know what else to say, but when I laugh, I laugh real. I think everyone should. Life’s too short for fake laughter when you find something really funny.
After all, why shouldn’t you react accordingly when you find something funny? I don’t mean the harmful-to-other-people, at-the-expense-of-others funny, but rather just flat-out humorous. And there are tons of scientific reasons why you should laugh – from stress relief, to combatting depression, to making yourself feel closer to the person with whom you’re laughing, to the fact that it works like a domino, and is bound to make people around you feel happier, too.
With the passing of Robin Williams and now Joan Rivers, and the untold number of tragedies that keep piling up this year alone, it feels sometimes like the world is growing a little darker, a little sadder, a little more cold. And though it always seems like there’s that paradox that the happiest people often put on a sort of sad clown act, making other people laugh to distract from their own demons, I don’t think that’s how people like Williams and Rivers (who had her own struggles, too) would like to be remembered. They made people laugh. They brought people together. They gave us moments of happiness in times that seemed especially bleak.
But when they’re gone, and things seem bleak because they’re gone, who makes us laugh?
Well, we do. We have to, if only to get through all that bleakness to the next bright spot, even if it feels like it might never come.
You have to believe it will, though. And you get there by laughing. Even if it feels false at first. But laugh at your own jokes (because I know there are moments when you say something that you think is really funny, otherwise I’m a particularly narcissistic shade of lame for doing that myself) and laugh at the jokes your friends tell, and go out late at night and laugh about the things you did and said and strangers you flirted with the next morning. Make memories. Laugh until you cry. Make lame jokes and witty jokes, sarcastic one-liners and corny comments that make people look at you sideways. Laugh anyway. Laugh despite their looks. Laugh in spite of them.
Laugh every day if you can. Even if you feel sad. Even if some tragedy struck you. (Sometimes that’s when we need laughter most.) And don’t feel guilty for it, either. The people who love you would want you to be happy, and would want you to laugh. Surround yourself with people who you think are funny. Laugh honestly, and you’ll be surprised how many people will think you’re funny too, just by virtue of the fact that you’re laughing. And you’ll feel better. Even if it’s just for that night, about a joke you won’t remember five years from now, but you’ll remember how you felt and hopefully that was happy. Laughter brings happiness. And the world could always use more of that.