Laugh It Off

Laugh It Off
Nikita Buida

‘How do you make God laugh?’

‘Tell Him of your plans’.

One of my most favourite cartoon strips is where the wise tiger Hobbes says to Calvin, ‘I suppose if we couldn’t laugh at things that don’t make sense, we couldn’t react to a lot in life’. I take that as serious advice. When one is wound up by the daily to-do lists, relationship woes, stress at work and a general disappointment about the direction in which the world is heading, nothing helps like a good dose of laughter.

We have increasingly become a society that is quick to take offence, pick quarrels and carry grudges. Where has our child-like ability to laugh at the inanities of life gone? Just be around children and you will notice how quick they are to chuckle, guffaw or giggle. As we age, the guffaw becomes a grin, it inches a little less, becomes a smile, and soon enough, it is only a cursory, ‘Ha!’ in our heads. Almost every poet, philosopher, saint and sage has encouraged us to laugh, yet we weep. And how! Bitterly, incessant and ugly.

I like people who drop coffee over themselves, laugh it off and move on. I am in awe of people who trip over themselves and chuckle, instead of curse. I admire those who face tragedies with a smile. Not because they couldn’t care less, but because they are simply audiences to the absurd game of life. Have you ever noticed how easily one can laugh, giggle, clap and guffaw while playing a game? We drop individualities and just enjoy the moment for what it is.

If life is a game – albeit a little ridiculous – shouldn’t we all be merrier and quick to laugh?

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I think about this often. Why do we take ourselves so seriously? I have friends who are unwilling to throw a laugh at a poor joke. What do they lose, I do not know. What pretence are we scared to drop when we laugh away breezily?

At the office, I have a colleague who laughs uproariously. It is such a welcome sign. Sometimes, others trickle by our cabin to find out what’s happening. Some people are curious. Some are envious. Some are downright vicious to think that we can chat and laugh because we don’t take our work seriously. In fact, the opposite is true.

If we apply our heads at work, in relationships and at life, we actually find it easier to laugh. Whatever is affecting us, is so temporary, we have to let it go. When the heart is lighter, we smile automatically. When it is elated, we laugh easily.

This is not to suggest that one has to become the village idiot or court jester. Wherever situations demand that we be serious or focussed, we must put all our thoughts into it. We must chase our life’s mission with sweat and blood. We should value meaningful conversations with our family and friends. We must observe silence and pray with sincerity. Comedy can never deride that which demands respect.

What we must actually laugh at is our own selves. The false notions that we entertain about people, our fears, tragedies and little pinpricks of life. We must be able to dust them off with a smile. One should be able to toss off insults without injury. It is possible only if we can take ourselves lightly. Otherwise, everything in life becomes insulting and unbearable.

If it rains on your parade, look up and laugh at the skies. If you missed the lottery by a number, chuckle at your fate. God has a unique sense of comic timing. Give Him His due with your unbound laughter. On that note, here’s hoping that we find the sunshine of laughter in our hearts and beam it across the world around us.

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Chinmaya Udghosh