I have a lot of topics I can think to write about, including: what is meant by ‘be the change you wish to see’; the relationship between law and creating cultures of integrity; deliberative ethics. Yet, somehow this week, I’m not moved to write about any of these topics. Instead, I’m in the mood to write about laughter. A few months ago, a friend started talking to me about Buddha. She said that she thought that, for a lot of us, one of life’s lessons is to laugh more. “I mean,” she explained “think about all those Buddha images where he is just laughing.”
As happens, over the years, I’ve been collecting Buddha images – little statues picked up in my travels. I only bring home the ‘Happy Man’ figures. I also have one that was gifted to me by my brother and his wife. I’d put a picture of it here, but it is currently packed away. It is a sandalwood Buddha carving with one big Buddha in the middle and a few smaller Buddhas surrounding him, including flying about his head. They are all laughing ecstatically. I love this carving and usually keep it on my desk – I find it inspiring. Likewise, I’ve noticed that often the Dalai Lama has a huge grin on his face when pictured. This is a man who feels deeps compassion for humanity – he meaningfully feels the pain of others on a regular basis. Yet, what a smile – the face of joy.
Isn’t it easy, as we work for our social causes, to forget to laugh? After all, the issues are sooooo important. And we are sooooo important, aren’t we? We are fighting for justice, equality, freedom – are we not? We must always be serious, if we are going to do great works…
I reckon if we want to create a more joyful world – which is definitely something I want to do – part of doing so is the expression of joy, which often comes in the form of laughter. I reckon if we want to create a more healthy world – which is definitely something I want to do – part of doing so is release, which often comes in the form of laughter. I reckon if we want to create a more humble world – which is definitely something I want to do – part of doing so is not taking one’s self so seriously, which often comes in the form of laughter.
I’m one of those people who frequently used to tell myself, and be told by others, to ‘not be so serious all the time’ or to ‘stop taking everything so seriously.’ My laugh didn’t used to come from the belly – it was usually a sort of shallow, perhaps a bit nervous kind of laugh. In recent years, I’ve come to know the joy of a good belly laugh. I’ve experienced times where I’m laughing so hard my face hurts.
And when this happens, I think ‘Why don’t I let myself do this more often?’
A wise woman recently advised me that laughter helps open us up to our intuition. As I understand it, intuition is the wisdom we all carry that is bigger than our own individual experience. I would also like us to create a world where we are more tuned into, and making choices guided by, our intuitive selves. I like this idea that laughter can help us do that.
In short, this week when I think of social change and activism, I’m thinking about being silly, laughing, giggling, joking around with people. Compassionate, robust activism need not be mutually exclusive to joy – quite the contrary, I should think.
Okay, perhaps I was wrong at the start of writing this post. I guess I did feel like writing about being the change we want to see – just not in my usual way.
When is the last time you laughed so much your face started hurting or your eyes starting tearing? When you laugh, do you laugh from your belly? How often do you giggle? When is the last time you did something silly?