#120 Never forget what it feels like to laugh so much that your tummy hurts

And the best way to not forget is to laugh often.

The other day I was walking down a road in Herne Hill singing a ‘Wicked’ song loudly to myself, thinking there was no one around – the guy rapidly approaching on the other side of the road had somehow slipped my radar.

“Popular, you’re gonna be popu-u-lar, and with an assis…”  I stopped as I spotted him.  We made eye contact and both burst out laughing before we carried on walking past each other, no words were exchanged.  I giggled to myself all the way to my friend’s house, and felt great for most of the morning, lifted by my giggle with a stranger.

We used to have a laughing class at my university.  On Monday morning we would all lie on the cold studio floor and laugh until it hurt and we were warmed up.  Yes, I know it’s not the same as doing a degree in rocket science, or microbiology – it didn’t teach me how to run a business or write a novel worthy of winning the nobel peace prize.  I think it did something much more important.  For me it was a chance to make a connection between my physical self and emotional self.  It released endorphins (hormones that make you feel happy) and allowed me to experience and reflect on the sensation of that.

So often nowadays we live in our heads much of the time.  We are brought up to sit behind desks, in car seats and on barstools- we sometimes forget how to just be in our bodies.  Pause every now and again and clock what’s going on with yours in the present moment.  Check in with yourself, concentrate on what it feels like to be you.

That laughing class was also a bonding experience for myself and my university friends – laughing together, laughing in sync, it created a space that only we shared.

Life can be serious when there’s so much to worry about, looming exams, money troubles, problematic love lives, non-existent love lives, taxes, your favourite contestant getting knocked out of GBBO and then , of course, the much, much worse stuff that happens in our lives and across the world.  In fact, it’s precisely because of all of this that laughing is SO important.  Laughter makes the heavy a little lighter.  Laughter is the invisible blanket that protects us alone, and together when the going gets tough.  Not always, not inappropriately, but to bring some joy in to the darker spaces – little pockets of brightness, lighting up across the globe in the face of everything else.

Laughing is amazing.  Laughing until it hurts is even better.  Laugh on your own, laugh with your friends, laugh at yourself, in spite of yourself and with yourself.  Laugh with others (not at).  Laugh with friends, laugh with strangers. Laugh with the man that just caught you singing falsetto in the street.  Laugh with the person that just saw you stack it on a dodgy bit of pavement.  Laugh with your friends about that thing that only you find funny, and nobody else understands.  Whatever you do, keep on laughing.

(And crying too, it’s all important.  But that’s a blog for another day, because my lunch-break is over.)

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