When did everything become so serious?
I heard a staggering statistic the other day. It floored me, left me speechless and caused a number of questions about my life to begin rattling around my brain. Here it is – children laugh on average 300 times a day, adults on the other hand only 15.
I know what you’re thinking. You were expecting me to toss out some crazy statistic about cancer, or depression, the rise of eating disorders among teenage girls, or the detrimental impacts the stress of our non-stop professional lives can have on our mental and physical health. Fair enough. Maybe you just need a minute to soak in the seriousness of what I just said…WE AS ADULTS ONLY LAUGH 15 TIMES DAY. What the hell is wrong with us?
When did everything become so serious? When did we decide that it was more appropriate to confront life with the straight-faced severity of a prison guard than with the open curiosity and intrigue that children view the world with everyday? When did we become convinced that frown lines and high stress levels were the ultimate indicators that we had finally joined the prestigious club belonging strictly to adults who have successfully “gotten their shit together”?
When did we stop laughing?
As with most things in life, timing is everything. I happened to stumble across this statistic on a day when I hadn’t even cracked a smile. A day when I felt as though the weight of the world was sitting squarely on my shoulders; effectively crushing my already crooked spine. My head was spinning. I was feeling unsure of decisions I had made and the path they had lead me down. I was lost. My spirits had been hurt and I was down for the count.
I’ve always been capable of seeing through the bullshit that can oftentimes cloud adult life and keep my eye on what truly matters; creating a life full of the things for which I am passionate, experiences that challenge me to grow, and most importantly sharing those moments with the people that I love. When you loose sight of those things, it’s easy to let the weight of the world crush your spine and break your spirits. To find yourself in a place where you question everything and are suddenly unsure of yourself. Where laughter is not only the furthest thing from your mind, but seems like a band-aid being used to cover a wound that needs 27 stitches instead – a short term fix that will ultimately lead to a flash flood of epic proportions taking down everyone in it’s path.
I understand that life is not a fairy tale full of rainbows and butterflies, where gumdrops fall from the sky and every moment of your day is a happy one. Of course life is full of serious moments. Moments when you feel consumed by stress. Moments when you realize there aren’t enough hours in the day to finish your growing to-do list. Moments when the bills keep rolling in and you just can’t seem to come up for a single breath of air. Moments when you realize that you’ve made a wrong decision and instead of seeing the lesson in the mistake, it’s the regret that weighs heavy on your mind and heart. Moments when you let someone down. Moments when you feel as though you’ve completely failed. Life happens in these moments. We can’t escape or avoid them. While I’m not suggesting that a good knee-slapping chuckle will cure all of life’s problems, maybe it’s an indication that we’re doing it all wrong.
Yes, life can be riddled with difficult moments, but it doesn’t mean that an asteroid is headed directly for the earth. We adults need to stop being so damn dramatic and realize that every now and again we are bound to have a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad month. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to find ourselves in stressful situations. We are going to loose people close to us. We are going to feel as though we are drowning in responsibilities. We are going to be rejected. We are going to fall down on our asses in front of people we wish would have never seen us fall in the first place and then to sweeten the deal, we are going to wake up with the blackest bruise any- one has ever seen the size of a baseball on the ass-cheek that took the brunt of the horrendous fall, just to remind us every day for a week that we screwed up.
The way I see it, when you encounter one of these not so lovely life experiences (which we all eventually do) there are two options. You can throw in the towel, admit defeat, and accept the fact that your life currently sucks. Or you can try not to take everything so seriously and laugh. We can laugh at ourselves. We can laugh at the crappy situations that somehow repeatedly find their way into our lives. We can laugh at the baseball-sized bruise on our ass. We can take a moment everyday to feel light and realize that it’s not the end of the world. Minor setbacks and moments of defeat do not mean that we have failed, it means that we are human.
There is always something to be thankful for. Whether it’s one thing, one moment, one person…there is always something. Life doesn’t have to be something that we need the straight-faced severity of a prison guard in order to survive.
Adulthood means that problems will never stop appearing, stress will always be something we need to manage, and responsibilities will never go away. Take it from me, when I fell on my ass in front of people who I wish would have never seen me fall in the first place and then ended up with a bruise the size of a baseball to remind me for a week of the fact that I had screwed up…I felt like an asteroid was headed directly for earth and life as I knew it was over. But then I laughed. I laughed because an asteroid was not headed directly for the earth and life as I knew it was not over, but mostly I laughed because that shit was funny. And you know what, it felt pretty damn good.
We may never laugh 300 times a day, but we need to start somewhere.