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Let Laughter Teach You

Back in college I was in love with a girl who broke up with me.

Had you teased me about the break-up back then, I would have been deeply hurt and offended. If you tease me about it now, I’d laugh and be a good sport.

Why? Because I’m over it.

There’s a valuable lesson about laughter here:

The ability or inability to laugh at a situation is a good gauge for measuring your relationship to it.

If you can’t laugh at something, then you’re probably still in the process of defining your relationship to it. You might still be healing and recovering. You might still be attached to a specific outcome. You might still be in the process of exploring your feelings and figuring out what you need to do.

If it’s easy to laugh at something, then you’ve probably achieved some closure or peace of mind with it. It’s an indicator that you’ve internalized some valuable lessons, are no longer attached to your old expectations, and have made a decision to move on.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. Some people laugh to conceal unresolved pain. Others seem way too serious when they are actually deeply fulfilled. The basic idea here is to think about laughter as a tool that can challenge you to think critically about how healthy your attitude is in certain areas of your life.

The next time you feel irritated by an invitation to laugh, ask yourself the following questions:

Why do I refuse to laugh at X?

What do I have to lose by laughing at X?

Am I laughing when I would rather be serious?

Am I being serious when I’d rather be laughing?

What are the pros and cons of my being so serious about this issue?

How might it benefit me to laugh at X?

What would it take for me to become the kind of person who laughs at X?

The feelings that govern our everyday reactions and decisions are largely unconscious. Simply by paying attention to what makes you laugh and what makes you refuse to laugh, you can get a clearer idea of what your problems are and what you need to do about them.


T.K. Coleman


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