I find myself saying the word “LOL” more than I am actually L-ing O. L. The other day, I was watching a comedian and found something he said so insanely funny that I couldn’t contain myself. I heard myself and thought, “is that my laugh?” I mean it had been a while since I had a full blown belly laugh. You know, laughing till you cry type thing? I hardly recognized the convulsive activity that was coursing through my body.

Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Regardless, as the decades chug along, I realize that my inner 4 year old that probably laughed for hours every day, has seemingly gone into hiding. I started thinking about this and realized that I’m not alone. I honestly can’t remember the last time anyone in my circle gave out more than a tempered chuckle. 

This is sad, but I think I may know why and it needs to stop.

We got super serious all the sudden

This is so sad. Everything seems to be a crisis. Maybe the 24 hour news cycle is to blame. The need to fill time makes everything a thing. If you find yourself spiraling into this new normal of daily doom, try your best to get some perspective. You can only change what you can change, and there’s no sense in biting off more than you can chew here. Do your best to find areas in your day that you can find humor in and commit to doing that often. You can reframe things for yourself instead of falling victim to feeling shame and anger for something that isn’t about you. You can be aware of things and want to make a difference without becoming an angry, serious person all the time. It won’t serve others and it definitely won’t serve you at the end of the day.

More staying at home and less community

Spending more time in our homes, or having limited community interaction can put us more in our own head. That isn’t always a great thing. Just like being serious all the time, being alone or having limited socializing can exacerbate the things that poison our minds and create negative thought patterns and limiting beliefs. When we don’t have any feedback on our feelings or ideas, the bad stuff seems to always take a front seat and our other areas of insecurity usually hop right in too. Even if it’s a small weekly habit of socializing or community activity, try to get out there every few days. Have coffee or a drink with a friend or go see a comedy show, something that inspires lightness in your heart and sparks some joy. You’ll be glad you did.

No one seems to be able to take a joke

It does seem as though things can’t be funny anymore. At least not without some internal content filtering in advance. It’s important to be mindful of how your words can impact others, but it’s not ok to feel as though nothing can be laughed at anymore. Some things are just funny and being able to laugh at ourselves and others absurdities isn’t bad. This isn’t ridicule or shaming, it’s just being able to see the humor in our ways and in others, and enjoying the comic relief it serves up. If your friends take things too seriously or if you find yourself in the same boat, lighten up on that. It’s healthy to zoom out and take another uninhibited look.

Getting older, getting wiser, losing our whimsy

Acting your age is really overrated. Getting older doesn’t mean that you have to stop playing or experiencing childlike joy in your favorite things. It’s ok, no matter how weird it seems to others, to keep your playtime activities in your life. Look at the grown men and women that love their comic books or superhero movies. Do you think they give one hoot about how their boss or others feel about that interest? They actually might, but they don’t care because it makes them happy. Think about the community part of this as well. Not only do you get to play and do the thing you’ve always loved, but you can share it with like minded people, have fun, laugh, and share stories. That’s a beautiful part of our lives, and we shouldn’t tamp it down for the sake of acting our age.

Bottom line, life can be really funny, and we need to laugh at all the things that it dishes out without holding back. 

Laughter offers up an endorphin hit and can even distract us from physical pain. Our physiology made it that way, so you know it’s important.

You may hold back your belly laughs for a variety of reasons, but no matter what those reasons are, they’re not worth it. Laughing is good, it’s pure, it’s good for our physical and mental health, and most importantly, it improves our outlook on life. What could be better than that?