Thursday, June 21, 2007


These Willoq children from Peru are happy as they play beside a rushing stream. Remember when, as a kid, you played chasings in the backyard or a pool and laughed yourself silly? Or, flapping your arms and roaring with laughter, you ran down a steep, grassy hill almost out of control? Or played hide and seek and tried desperately to stop laughing as a searching friend came close? Or read a funny book and giggled uncontrollably for hours?

Why have we created a world where laughing diminishes rapidly as we age?


Mary Walsh said...

The good news is that laughter has no such limitations except those we put on it ourselves.

We can chose to be happy or sad, just by focusing our mind on that which creates the feeling in ourselves. The facial expression is just registering what is in the mind.....

I try very hard to make sure that I have balance in my life. I want to be neither so "happy" that I have no room for compassionate empathy for others ills, but equally I understand that in order to have the strength to endure I must be "happy" about something.

This can take the form of watching "Chaser's War on Everything" even though personally I loved "The Glass House" better.

It is Ok to laugh about things and at ourselves, while we're picking on us, we're leaving others alone.

Sadness ongoing is depressive and no one usually wants to be around really sad people ongoing. Man is not geared to being constantly unhappy, hence the ability to smile in the face of overwhelming odds. I reckon laughter and joy is a form of healing which is to be encouraged. Often when I force myself to stay with a lighthearted subject matter I feel better afterwards in accepting situations that I cannot change.

Sometimes I even walk away from situations that make me feel really bad and that I have some control over how I deal with it!

And Life is really what we make it, because mostly we have control over our thought processes and it is only a thought that produces our response to whatever challenge life dishes out...

"Psychologist" Mary Walsh has left some room for others' pearly words of wisdom!

Daniel said...

Mary, as we leave childhood do we laugh 'in spite of the world' or 'because of the world'?

My feeling is that the unjust current world order is responsible for much of the dearth of adult laughter and that, to put more smiles back on our faces, we should change it!

Neo said...

I think the answer is more simple.

It's because the social 'modus operandi' is a program that is rammed down our throats at the age of 5 by an individialism supressing,pro-nazi style institution supported by draconian governments whos only desire is to churn out thousands and thousands of up and comming tax paying, law abiding, too busy to think, play and laugh, young adults.

.... then when they have 'created' you ADD...... pressure to get a promotion, spend time with the kids, not upset the wife, take her on that trip you promised, fix the car, invest in the right shares, not forget to get the garbage out this week,get shoes like ann has,and send your mother a birthday card, what do you get?

Who's laughing then? Thank the system that instilled social standards and suppressed everything else.


Daniel said...

Laughter readily associates with simplicity. In our competitive, materialistic world there's simply little room either for simplicity or for laughter. xxxxxxxxxx

bluegrrrrl said...

I love this post, Daniel, and I'm glad you're back in the game!!!

I have been doing a lot of laughing lately...and it has been good, but it also means I have not had the wherewithal to deal with the more serious issues of the world. Storing up my reserves, I guess...

You're motivating me to get back in the game, too!

betmo said...

"Problem is that I tend to be an all or nothing person. Dealing with shades of grey is not my strongest suit. If I don't believe that I can change the world or some of its people in even the tiniest way then I can't see the point of struggling against the tide of human nature which seems to be sweeping us towards destruction."

daniel- you can't change anyone. it was the hardest lesson for me to learn. you can change THINGS- though. that is where you must put your energies. changing the way things are done and so on.

as for laughter- adults take themselves way too seriously. i am not sure why. perhaps it comes with responsibility but laughter is good for the soul. without it- you see a world much like we have today.

Daniel said...

Bluegrrrrl, thanks for you comment and your encouragement. Blogging is not easy and, if you're continuously dealing with serious issues, it can be very wearing.

Betmo, laughing is good. I'm going to try laughing at the idiots who run our world and help others to join me.

Worried said...

"...laughter has no such limitations except those we put upon it ourselves."

The same may be said of play; playing stimulates laughter.Society places limits on the type of play acceptible for adults: golf, tennis, other sports for backyard games, sedentary indoor adult games, etc.. upon the guiding principle of "Act Your Age." I don't know who determines what activity is appropriate for adult age groups.

I have encountered the "Act Your Age" principle from disapproving peers with increasing frequency and intensity as I have aged. This was never more true than when engaging in activities with my children, grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren, even though it was obvious that the little ones and I enjoyed it immensely.

I used to wade the creeks with my young ones, netting tadpoles to put in an acquarium so the children could observe the miracle of metamorphosis as the little creatures absorbed their tails and turned into froglets. The capturing was accompanied by squeals of laughter and great fun by the children and me. The process was repeated when the froglets were released to the creek bed. I would help them capture (and release) adult frogs to show them their lovely eyes and their flat ears, teach them the differences between frogs and toads, and the hilarious pursuits when chasing down bullfrogs. (Did you ever try to catch a bullfrog?)

These excursions usually resulted in the participants coming home wet, bedraggled and muddy. My peers were scandalized and often admonished me to "act your age" and criticized me for undignified behavior, especially as I got older.

I would help the children capture the Anole lizards, show them the jeweled eyes and flat ears, and allow them to observe their color change when placed back on tree bark or greenery, and explain to them their contribution to the ecology. The lizards in my gardens became known as "Grandma's lizards" and don't ever hurt one. One precious moment was when we saw a tiny, just hatched Anole perched on the tip of a ginger leaf drinking from a drop of dew. The children were entranced and delighted.

Squatting on our haunches watching busy ant trails, observing a wasp dig a hole in which to place a paralyzed spider to nourish its young when it hatched, and other such activities, accompanied by explanations concerning these insects and their part in nature's plan.

No doubt it was undignified behavior for a grandma/great-grandma to engage in chasing frogs and lizards and to get wet and muddy - but who cares? It was great fun and laughter, such good times, for me and the children and they have fond memories of those events. Also, they learned much about nature from the activities, far more than from classrooms.

Easter egg hunts at my home were an event that included every member of my extended family, from great-aunts and -uncles down to babes in arms. Everyone got an Easter basket packed with goodies and everyone hunted eggs with determined and excited fervor, especially the search for the coveted Prize Eggs. Every basket's goodies included a water pistol and after the hunts were over great and wonderful were the Water Wars. I think that the children enjoyed seeing the adults particpate in such play as much as they did their own play. Now adults, those children still talk about the Water Wars and laugh about certain incidents involving their adult relatives.

My neighbors thought we were nuts and one, hanging over his fence watching the bedlam, remarked, "aren't you people a little old for that?!"

Too old to play? Too old to have fun? Too old to laugh and play with child-like abandon? NEVER!!

Act your age? Fie on that! Enjoy life as you may and find laughter and good times as you can. Now that I am aged, handicapped and hobble about on a cane, I remember those times and still chuckle at some of the wonderful memories.More wonderful than non-existant guilt for "undignified behavior". As do my young ones.

Laugh, love and be happy at ANY age.

Daniel said...

Fantastic comment, Worried. Everyone should read it!