Are You Afraid to Laugh?


Cheap Laughs

Laughter and jokes and play are undervalued in our serious adult world.

We think of all of these as entertainment, just a way to escape the stress and burdens of a threatening world which weighs us down.

Do you ever feel like you’re carrying more than you can bear?
Laughter picks up those burdens, and takes them away from us, if only for a moment.

A break from our worries is great.
But laughter is much more than an escape.

Laughter can heal.

Studies show that laughter has a positive effect on our health, while negative moods are not good for us.

Sometimes, laughter is a wonderful expression of joy and happiness.
To me, nothing is more beautiful than a heartfelt smile.

I think that our spirit shines through those moments, clear and bright.

But, there are times and places where laughter and humor are not welcome at all.
Laugh during a funeral, a serious speech, or during a solemn religious service, and see what reaction you get!

You’ll be called disrespectful or strange (at best).

What is this struggle between laughter and serious events?
How did laughter become the enemy of solemn, important occasions?

I think it’s because laughter and its extreme cousin, cynicism, are often used to attack and destroy.

We often laugh at things that we find ridiculous or foolish, even when other people find those same things important or sacred.

Laughter can shatter an important moment, and turn it to dust.

Tragically, we sometimes use laughter to pretend that something truly important to us is ridiculous or foolish.

It’s our way of hiding from questions within us that need answers, or hiding from actions that we must do.

The Jester and the Trickster
In medieval times, it was common for kings to have a court jester. The jester was the one person who could joke about almost anything and get away with it.

He was there to entertain the king.

Sometimes his humor would be cruel and destructive to those who he joked about.
But often, he was there to raise important questions.

His job was to trick people into questioning the things that they otherwise would never question.

In the stories and mythology of many cultures there is the character of the trickster.
Sometimes this character is evil, and he seems to exist to bring out the worst in people, and lead them to harm themselves and others.

At other times, this character is a troublemaker, who doesn’t let people continue undisturbed in their everyday lives. He forces them to see the foolishness and weakness in themselves.

If the victims of his tricks don’t do anything with that knowledge, then the trickster is just an annoying character.
But if he succeeds in waking them up, he has performed an incredible service to them.

Playing With Fire

Laughter is like fire or any powerful tool.
It can be used to wake us up, to move us along the path of personal growth, to bring us healing and joy, or to destroy.

I’ve spoken before (in Caution: Shape Shifters at Play and Why are we afraid to Play? ) about the power of play that enables us to try out other ways of thinking and acting.

You are the ultimate possibility machine.

Did you ever think about how many different lives might be possible for a single person?

Even you.

Sure, you pretend that everything must be exactly as it is, but that’s the voice of fear speaking. We’re caught in a whirlwind of fear — fear of change, fear of facing a world where anything can happen.

We all find ourselves stuck, caught in a world made small by our habits and mindless rules.

Fortunately, there are certain forces in our lives that have the power to suspend our habits and our rules, to suspend the certainty that life can only be just as it is.

Laughter and play are two such forces.
They are like a reset button which shuts off all the little programs and voices within us that are running our lives.

Do you feel the lightness and the freedom that comes with play and positive laughter?

It’s not that we’ve escaped responsibility.
We’ve entered an abundant, open space where possibility is real, free of our limiting beliefs.

So, how will you use the power of laughter and play?

You can use those forces against others to try to hurt them, to leave them temporarily or permanently without the comfort of their habits and beliefs.

You can use those forces to help others.

Better yet, begin with yourself.
Use laughter, play, and imagination to open up a space of possibility in your life.

Will you get nervous without your habits of thought, feeling, and action to tell you who to be and what to do?


The emptiness and fear may lead you to jump back into the familiar, or fill the moments with a simple game that doesn’t question your life.

But you have another choice.
You could play at being someone else for a few moments.

Or, perhaps, you could play at being someone else for the rest of your life.

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