When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
(I did reading my kid The Witches, at the scene were the boy-turned-mouse runs down someone’s pants and then the guy pulls off his trousers in the busy kitchen to get rid of the mouse, which was long-gone in another direction, and suddenly everyone was like, what the heck are you doing with your pants off? And then my kid re-enacted the scene and I almost pee’d myself. He revelled so much in this power he had suddenly discovered in himself, of being able to practically paralyse me in a weird state of cry-laughing, that neither of us wanted it to end.)
Apparently, this is unusual.
According to neuroscientist and researcher Sophie Scott, there is a laughter cliff – or dip – during adulthood, during which our joy drains away. We reach peak laughter at age 23, and don’t start laughing a lot again until we’re in our 70s.
You guys, this is a crisis!
I am in that mid-point and I refuse to wander in a laughter-less desert for another 20-30 years.
Says Scott: “the average 4-year-old laughs 300 times a day. It takes the average 40-year-old two and a half months to laugh that many times.”
Granted, it’s been a sobering year, and I’ve felt it’s been heavy on the brave-face, uncertainty and adulting, and light on the revelry, laughs and stand-up comedy. But we can take this information and turn it into medicine, can’t we?
This all crossed my field via the author of We Should Get Together, Kat Vellos, who shared the podcast where she encountered it, and some conversation or journalling prompts.
|CONVERSATION / JOURNALLING PROMPT: (from Kat Vellos)|
|• When was the last time you really let yourself play and laugh?• How does “behaving like an adult” get in the way of accessing laughter and your sense of humor?• What’s one thing you can do to add more laughter to your life and your relationships?• What’s your humor style, and what kinds of comedy do you find funny?• Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He didn’t get hurt because it was a soft drink.|
It made me brainstorm: how do we create a space that allows more hilarity? Hang around with a four year old with your phone unplugged. Watch silly cat videos. (Apparently cats are terrified of cucumbers. This has brought our household immense amounts of delight.) Switch off the news stream and watch a comedy. Give yourself permission to laugh. Call up your favourite 70-something and ask them when was the last time they laughed, and whether there was a desert without laughter and what changed and allowed them to lighten up? Heck, call up anyone you know and ask them to tell you about the last time they laughed until they cried. It probably won’t translate. (See anecdote about the Witches above.) But it might switch them into a pro-laughing state. And as laughter is contagious, you might just crack up anyway.
Also, with thanks and love to Raelene who separately sent me the link to the podcast that inspired Kat Vellos’ post, reminding me the invisible cosmic ways we are all inter-connected, even apart.