October 24, 2017

Why it’s Okay to Laugh when Someone Falls on their Face.


Confessions of an Inappropriate Giggler:

After a yoga class one day, my teacher shared a thoughtful story about her son’s interest in hypnotherapy.

Visions of a young boy dressed as Sigmund Freud dangling a shiny object leapt into my mind and I let out a hearty chuckle. Only afterward did I realize this was not supposed to be a funny story. I received a somber stare from my teacher and scolding glances from my fellow classmates.

I felt like rolling myself up in my yoga mat. What a fool I am.

Walking home, I wondered why I have a penchant for erupting in laughter at inopportune times? What is wrong with me? What cruelty exists inside me for giggling when others are serious?

Fortunately, I am not alone. I confessed my sin of inappropriate giggling on social media and, lo and behold, many came forth in solidarity. I suggested a group called “Gigglers Anonymous,” but let’s face it, bursting out in laughter is a sure-fire way to lose our anonymity.

We can’t hide it. We laugh, therefore, we are. We are gigglers.

Now granted, no one likes to be laughed at, but how can we hold it in when a friend trips over her feet? It’s funny. Walking into walls and bumping our heads may hurt, but it is our pride that takes most of the brunt, and often a chuckle is the cure. And even in times that call for solemnness, we may find ourselves fighting back giggles and smirks.

When we look at the tragedies and chaos of our modern lives, there is a lot for us to be concerned about: social injustices, violence, wars, and climate change. The somberness of all that is happening can kill our spirits and depress our souls. We feel like we’re losing our inspiration and ability to function.

If we can’t change the atrocities happening in the world, what can we do?

We can change our reaction to them. Once again, my mother whispers in my ear—“Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent our reaction and attitude.” We can attach ourselves to sadness, or laugh in the face of adversity. This is a choice we can make.

In analyzing my predilection for giggling, I’ve found that my laughter is not usually a sign of mocking or even making light of someone’s situation; it is a signal that I understand another’s plight. I laugh because I’ve fallen flat on my face in the middle of the street. I have walked into walls so hard my head had a good bounce and for a few minutes I saw stars. I’ve experienced adversity so absurd all I could do was laugh, and well, other times it’s simply my imagination getting the better of me.

Giving more thought to giggling, smirking, and random bursts of laughter, I think we need to realize the powerful medicine of laughter. Laughing reduces stress and anxiety, and my personal favorite, it’s a great ab workout. No time for crunches? Just let out a gut-wrenching laugh. It’s the best workout—besides sex.

And laughing is more than just reacting to comedy or what we find funny. Our laughter can bring us to tears. Our laughter can help us cope in stressful situations, say when we’re in trouble with our bosses or getting a speeding ticket. We can laugh when our whole world is falling apart and our last dollar falls into the sewer grate. Fan-f*cking-tastic!

Sometimes, all we can do is laugh at our bad luck.

When we laugh, we release endorphins, which relax our bodies, and when our bodies are at ease, we can think more clearly. When we laugh at serious subjects, we are allowing our body and mind to become more thoughtful. We are giving ourselves the opportunity to gain more insight into our lives.

In today’s chaotic times, more laughter is necessary. Perhaps instead of “Gigglers Anonymous,” we should have open clubs of gigglers—Gigglers Unite to Save the World. We can let our laughter rip freely, regardless of what is tickling our tummies.

Because when we begin to share our joy, our pain, and our anxiety through laughter, we will find ourselves on the path to healing—and the more, the merrier.



Author: Jennifer Ott
Image: IMDB
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis


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Jennifer Ott Oct 28, 2017 11:45pm

Dear Carol, thank you so much for sharing. I truly appreciate reading your comment. :)

Carol Galat Oct 25, 2017 3:06pm

Thank, Jennifer, for clearing up a memory that has bothered me for years. On the evening of the day a beloved family member died, my family (most of whom are non-cryers), gathered, and at a loss for what to do, played a card game. It became rather racous, and as merriment increased, so did our laughter, until most of us were laughing hysterically. I could hardly believe it, and later, I felt guilty for laughing, and when I looked back, I still felt strange about it. But having read your article, and the relief a body can get from giggling and laughter, I understand what was going on--we were all in such despair, and giggling/laughter gave us the physical reprieve we so desperately needed...

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Jennifer Ott

Jennifer Ott, inspired by watching way too much “Monty Python” as a child, is an author of several fiction titles, including award-winning Saying Goodbye, Vietnam Veterans of America’s highly recommended Edge of Civilization, and Survivor of the Clan. On occasion, she has meandered into the realm of nonfiction with such satirical titles: Ooh Baby Compound Me, which compares credit card companies to fraternity hazing, and Love and Handicapping, which offers horse racing handicapping tips for those in the dating world. Most recently, she published Secrets of a Recovering Loner, a semi-autobiographical account of the several times she withdrew from society’s demands to pursue creative endeavors.