Laughter is a combination of fear/surprise and safety. You can see this when a child first learns the peek-a-boo game: dad “disappears”, then suddenly he’s back and says “Boo”. The child’s eyes go wide, then the laughter is screaming-joy, like a person stuttering on their exclamations. Even as adults, whatever makes us laugh has an element of surprise.

Laughter is one of the best transitions from fear/surprise (and anger and sadness) because it takes the energy of these states of being and “moves” it. Do you know what it’s like to get stuck in a bad mood? Laughter gets us unstuck! After a really intense fit of laughter, you breathe deeply and anything that was troubling you is forgotten, at least for awhile.

Moving into laughter requires… well… something funny, of course. More importantly, though, it requires you to let go of your negative thoughts. A good way to do that is simply to write your thoughts down. Once they’re on paper, you don’t have to occupy your mind with remembering. All negative emotions come from your thoughts, so let go of your attachment to them.

When you let go of your “worry” thoughts, you let go of stress. The opposite of stress is peacefulness, and laughter comes to us most easily when we are relaxed and untroubled. A peaceful mental state also lends itself to seeing the absurdities of the world. All around us are reasons to laugh. For some great examples of absurd humor, watch the comedian Jerry Seinfeld on www.youtube.com. Seinfeld has a sense of humor that is focused on seeing what is odd in everyday life. His stand-up routines also lack the obscenities and vulgarities common to many other comedians. You can teach yourself to laugh at your everyday life by watching his shows.

Another great source of laughter is children. Just being around happy children will lift your spirits, and if you can join in their play, you’ll likely be laughing with them. The reason that children laugh so easily is that they don’t hold onto their reasons for feeling a certain way. They live in the moment. Their emotions easily flow from one to another. Children are wonderful teachers about choosing joy. Great examples of laughter that will quickly get you laughing along come from www.youtube.com under the search “laughing baby”.

Laughing with children or comedians is a shared experience. Laughter is contagious, and everyone who laughs feels better afterwards. Part of the reason that we feel better is because we’ve just gifted someone else. Many people have found that depression dissipates when they look outside of themselves and do something for others. After the laughing comes the smiles and the world has become a brighter, more beautiful place. Laughter changes our perspective about life. Laughter heals our society.

During the time of my life when I used to argue, I would sometimes spontaneously break into laughter, often when my “arguing partner” said something that I found completely absurd like “If you really cared about me, you’d know what I want!” Sometimes she would get angry at my laughter and take it personally, but sometimes she would join me. When we laughed together, we reached a place of safety within our fear/anger/frustration. Our “negative” emotions dissipated and were replaced with our loving connection. Our love became stronger because we realized that we could transform our angry arguments into love. Once we laughed and said, “I love you”, there was nothing to argue about.

We live in a strange and beautiful world and we are among the strangest of creatures within it. Among the animal kingdom, humans are a grand joke, walking about on two legs and being virtually hairless and pink! Finding humor is simply a point of view. Everything that we find stressful in life can be laughed at when we gift ourselves with a perspective of playfulness.

When we learn to laugh at ourselves, we will never run out of good jokes. Allow yourself to laugh easily, openly and fully. Your heart will expand and your friends will reflect your beauty back to you in their smiles and laughter.