Originally published on January 6, 2021 in Resolution

In keeping with the pattern of this issue being a bit of a departure from the norm, I’d like to begin on a slightly serious note by discussing why I decided to include this article on a monthly basis.  Truthfully? I was worried that I wasn’t laughing enough. I was concerned that I was rapidly losing my sense of humor.

It sounds like kind of a funny thing to worry about. (I will try to refrain from psychoanalyzing that in a future article.) However, it felt like life had gotten painfully serious and I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d laughed on a regular basis.  Granted, I launched the magazine in the midst of a global health crisis and an election year, so life in general wasn’t feeling particularly humorous. That just made it seem all the more important to add a little levity to the mix.

In my quest to inject some humor into my days, I started intentionally seeking out laughter-provoking materials. I would look up sarcastic memes on social media or watch funny cat videos on YouTube. However, what I did next may have taken things too far. I decided to type “laughter meditation” into the search engine on my Insight Timer App.

I have to be honest that I was skeptical about the idea right from the start, but I figured a 2-minute session was a safe test. How bad could it be? It turns out that two minutes was more than enough time to realize that the meditation was going to work for all the wrong reasons.

As the very sweet-sounding instructor attempted to guide me through forced laughter (assuring me that genuine laughter was sure to follow), I struggled to join in. And then (just as I thought, “Come on Erin! You can do this!”) she very abruptly stopped her belly laughing to announce with gusto what a great job I had done! And that’s when I started laughing. This pattern repeated itself a couple of times and I laughed harder at the idea of how inappropriate my laughter felt because I was laughing at the well-meaning teacher rather than with her.
I suddenly flashed to a friend’s very serious catholic wedding ceremony. While kneeling in prayer, my best friend and I couldn’t stop giggling because the priest reminded us of a scene from “The Princess Bride.” (There was zero discussion involved. We simply made eye contact and began cracking up.) Somehow the regrettable timing made it even funnier and it became nearly impossible to stop ourselves. (We did manage to refrain from drawing too much attention, with the exception of some friends seated next to us in the pew.)

And so it was with my “meditation.” The misdirected laughter, combined with the memory it induced, had me in stitches. Ultimately I guess it did, indeed, do the trick. Nonetheless, I think I’ll probably stick to cat videos in the future.

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