The theme I selected for this year (or perhaps the theme that chose me) was “Laugh More.” When I landed on the theme, I had no idea how timely it would be, because as it turns out, I now have a live-in tutor in laughter.
My tutor is just over a year old, and although he only learned how to laugh a few months ago, he is already something of an expert. Graham doesn’t know to be cynical. He hasn’t learned sarcasm. He doesn’t require a lot of nuance in his humor. He just laughs, straight from his belly.
Through the eyes of toddler, life is full of laughter: the springy sound of a doorstop, the unpredictable bounce of a balloon, the sandpapery tongue of a dog, a well-placed tickle.
There’s something profound about how straightforward his humor is: he sees something that strikes him as funny, and he laughs.
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to laughing, but more than halfway through the year, here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
1. Be present in the moment.
There is nothing like regret over the past or worry about the future to squeeze the laughter right out of a person. When you’re one, you aren’t worried about your to-do list and you’re not stewing over something you said yesterday. That frees you up to embrace the funny moments in the right-now.
I am trying to take lessons from Graham, as well as from the wise woman in Proverbs, and let go of worry so there’s more space in my heart for laughter.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
2. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
In the past several months, I’ve discovered that there is one source of humor that is ever-present: myself. I can’t tell you how many times this year I made it halfway through my day at work before realizing I had spit-up on my shirt. There was the time I got halfway to dinner with friends before realizing I was almost at work instead. And then there was the day I congratulated myself on getting dinner in the Crockpot by 8 a.m., only to realize when I got home that I hadn’t turned it on.
In the past, these might have been prime opportunities for me to feel frustrated or annoyed. But I’m trying to change my default setting to laughter. If I can embrace the humor inherent in being a flawed and foible-prone human being, I will have an ever-regenerating, built-in source of laughter.
We can best take ourselves seriously if we are free to laugh at ourselves, and to enjoy the laughter of God and his angels.
3. Create space for laughter.
It seems to me that there is a direct correlation between the margin in my life and my ability to laugh. Laughter flourishes best in an environment where it has some elbow room—it doesn’t want to be shoehorned into a few orchestrated moments here are there. So I’m actively trying to carve out some margin to let laughter grow.
4. Be generous with your laughter.
As I’ve watched Graham explore the world and discover what tickles his funny bone, I’ve marveled at how funny ordinary things can be. He has taught me this important lesson: Don’t be stingy with your laughs.
And so we’ve been recording the things that have cracked us up this year—not just the big laughs but the little giggles too. We’ve been writing them down and putting them in a laugh jar—partly so we are more aware of them, and partly so we can pull them out again at the end of the year and laugh about them all over again.
I know not all that may be coming,
but be what it will,
I’ll go to it laughing.
5. Gain perspective
Perhaps the best way to grow our laugh muscles is to get perspective on who we are and who God is. When we rest in the truth that God is holding us (and that he has a sense of humor himself), we are able to laugh alongside him.
It is the heart that is not yet sure of its God that is afraid to laugh in His presence.
I’d love to hear from you. What helps you to be more open to laughter? What has made you laugh recently?