This article is a review of words frequently used in the world of laughter, the message they really convey and its impact. Words dictate thoughts, which create actions, which shape your life. You can change your life just by changing your words.
Many people associate simulated laughter with silliness (acting silly) or being funny or childish. I could not disagree more.
It is important to make a strong distinction between these terms, because the way you understand and perceive your own behaviors has an impact on the energies you place behind them, which in turn modulates how you act and interact with others. At stake is how this dynamic affects your self-image.
I am against acting, and all about being. Acting funny/silly/childish is very different from experiencing the preciousness of fantasy and imagination – a.k.a. having fun – in a space that’s free of judgement.
“Silly” and “childish” are labels on a judgment scale in our current society. They are derogatory terms that define having or showing a lack of common sense or judgment, being absurd and foolish. This cannot and will not help you become a better version of who you are. Silly in particular, laughs “at” something or someone. It’s an act of violence because it takes power away.
Playful and childlike, on the other hand, describe a state of being. They are a giving and the manifestation of a feeling of joy. They have a beginning and an end and mean nothing. They don’t take anything away and laugh “with.”
Understand that this is not a call to modify any behavior, but rather an invitation to reconsider why you laugh when you do. A playful or childlike approach to everyday things is a key factor in staying healthy. Daily chores are less burdensome when we laugh while doing them. We aren’t always having fun, but we do have a lot more fun with laughter than without.
What this means in practice:
- If wearing a clown nose, funny wigs or any other prop makes you laugh, this is wonderful. Keep wearing them. Just don’t label yourself as “silly” or “funny” in your head. Make it fun. Wear them because you like it, they make you feel good, and you would be equally entertained if you were the only one to ever know about it. Do it for you, not because you think it is going to make others laugh. The only way to tap into the deeper benefits that laughter has to offer is to do it for you with others, and not for them.
- Always laugh “with” others, never “at” them.