I don’t feel like I laugh enough.

The other day, A. was listening to a podcast while doing the dishes, and I could hear him laughing hysterically even though I was in another room and the water was running. I might chuckle at things, but hearing him let loose made me realize having a deep laugh like that, especially by myself, is a rarity for me. I tend to like serious things: tear-jerker movies, romantic novels, blogs about reality. In fact, I actually tend to dislike comedies, especially movies. I hardly ever want to sit down and watch one, and if I’m compelled to watch one in the company of others, I often think that I am laughing at it “in spite of myself.” I don’t like slapstick humor. America’s Funniest Home Videos makes me cringe, and Who’s On First? annoys me.

I think even my face is serious. My whole life people have asked me if I was okay when I’m perfectly fine. I guess what I think of as my normal face must look troubled to the casual observer, and I’ve never understood why.

I recently read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben. One of her month-long happiness goals was to “be serious about play,” with a sub-resolution to “find more fun.” She discovered one of her “Great Truths of Adulthood” through this resolution, which is that “just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it is fun for me–and vice versa.” When I read that, it really resonated with me. I find reading a book fun; I don’t find getting dolled up and going out dancing at a club fun. I find eating gourmet food at fancy restaurants once in awhile fun; A. does not. The key here, with which Gretchen and I both struggle, is not beating yourself up for not finding something fun! It’s easy to think you should enjoy comedies or that you should want to listen to jazz music. But it’s more important to be honest with yourself. If something is not fun to you, it’s not necessary that you force yourself to do it as a leisure activity. (I exclude from this things like vacuuming and taking out the trash that are things we must do that hardly anyone finds fun.) Both Gretchen and I struggle with defining exactly what we do find fun and enjoyable.

Maybe my baseline emotion tends more toward the melancholy than some people’s, and maybe my idea of fun is more low-key. But that doesn’t mean I can’t laugh. I think I have a decent sense of humor, especially when it comes to puns and plays on words. Humor is just rarely my choice of entertainment. I don’t want to force myself into doing things I don’t find fun, but I want to seek out more moments of laughter in my day to day life.

A good example in my mind is being tickled. I hate being tickled…kind of. The kind of is because, while it is an unpleasant sensation, it sure does make me laugh. Hard. The kind of laughter that leaves me spent, gasping for air and…happy. I need to find tickle analogies in my life: tickle movies, tickle books, tickle blogs. I need to decide that laughter is a worthwhile pursuit and convince myself to indulge in it more than occasionally. Because maybe it really is the best medicine, even for ailments you don’t realize you have.

What makes you laugh, and how do you feel about being tickled?

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman