Laughter is the best medicine

Find a five or six year old child, and you will find a free human being. Free to be human.

That’s because children run on ‘automatic’ — instinctive and spontaneous. They create their world and delight in discovering new things. They are never afraid to ‘waste’ a day playing in the sun. They believe in mystery and magic. They see fairies in the garden and Santa’s footprints on the carpet.

They don’t worry about the past. They don’t think about the future. They live in the now. Which means they are not afraid to express what they feel. In fact, they are so loving, they almost melt.

And you will also observe that most of the time they have a smile on their face, they are having fun, and they are laughing. Yes, laughing.

It’s been estimated that the average adult laughs 15 times a day, and the average child laughs 300 times a day. I guess that’s because adults are pretty serious people; even children put on a serious face when they play adults. Our [adult] behaviour is geared around having a plan and being in control. Logical, practical, sensible. Which doesn’t leave too much room for intuition, spontaneity, or laughter.

To put it bluntly, we are obsessed with planning and controlling the world – our lives, our relationships, events, even other people. We plan for a world where our children will never fall on the concrete sidewalk. We plan for a world where dogs will never bite. We plan for a world where people are always nice. We plan for a world where nothing will go wrong, and nobody will get hurt.

Well life doesn’t quite work this way. In fact it’s the very unpredictability and element of ‘surprise!’ that makes life vibrant, wonderful and alive. That’s why jokes are so funny; they take us by surprise and make us laugh.

And so, as we take the journey from child to adult, we slowly but surely plan all the surprise, spontaneity, and laughter out of our lives. No wonder we might feel that something is missing in life [even in the face of our success]. No wonder we sometimes complain that life is boring. It is.

The problem is that we can’t quite put our finger on what it is that’s missing. We are unable to see our situation for what it is. It’s a bit like being in a prison. The prison is our mind; The Fat Controller and the Fanatical Planner. And there’s [seemingly] no way out.

I reckon there is a way out. Call it ‘the child within’ or call it ‘laughter therapy’ [yes, there is such a thing]. To get there, lie back and think back to when you were five or six. Remember the joy, wonder and mystery you found in simple, everyday, ordinary things? Feel your delight, your joy, and your laughter? Now open that door again and let joy and laughter back in to your world and your life.

The Ancient Greek greats observed that life is really a comedy; our mistake [as adults] is that we live life as a tragedy. As you can see, laughter really is the best medicine.


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