Just Laugh At It: The Healing Power of Laughter

 

Rabid Dog

It was my dream of the big black dog that taught me the true power of laughter.

By Cathy Eck

 

Just Laugh At It

Many years ago, I had a dream with an important lesson that I’ve never forgotten.  In this dream, I was standing in the barn where my daughter kept her horse.  A big black dog with huge white teeth came toward me.  He was even frothing at the mouth.  I was terrified.  The dog was ready to bite me when I heard a voice in my head that said, “Just laugh at it.”  I started laughing at the dog.  At first, it was kind of like faking it until I made it.  But then I found the true humor, and I really cut loose.  The dog turned and walked away.

I thought that I understood the dream until I tried to apply it in other aspects of my life.  It was so much easier to laugh at the dog in my dream, where I didn’t take things so damn serious.

People in my life had trained me not to laugh because they said it hurt their feelings.  They thought I was laughing at them.  But I wasn’t laughing at them; I was laughing at their baggage.  I knew they were not their baggage; but they didn’t.  Sadly, many people think they are their beliefs, their baggage, and their memories.  I believed them when they said I was hurtful, not realizing that their misery was wanting my company.

 

Finding Our Inner Comedian

My dream caused me to take a closer look at comedy, and to challenge those who felt I should not laugh at people’s false selves.  Really good comedians take the edge off of reality.  In fact, the best jokes are born from reality.  Our world is filled with false authorities who think they are right and intelligent.  But they are actually giant collections of stupid beliefs, most of which are highly outdated or overrated.  Comedians expose the beliefs that just aren’t true.  And often the authority is not very happy that they are the brunt of their joke — remember Sarah Palin and Saturday Night Live — it was funny because it was so real.

Comedians also give us permission to find our own point of view.  Great comedians help us remove the curtain from the Wizard; they take the authority out of authority.  Often, they expose the naked truth.

We can learn from comedy where our own wounds exist.  Wounds show up in jokes that we just can’t laugh at because we find them too offensive or too personal.  When we can’t laugh, we are taking the situation too seriously.  Sometimes, we can’t laugh because the person is showing us a reality that we thought we were doing a damn good job of hiding.  Either way, comedy is still doing us a favor if we take in the lesson.

When we can’t joke about something, we aren’t being authentic.  Something is hiding; and that is never good.  I remember when Obama was first elected.  The comedians didn’t joke about him for awhile, and I wondered if we were in big trouble as a nation.  If you can’t laugh at an authority, you blindly obey them.  Laughter and freedom go hand in hand.

 

Laughter Dissolves False Authority

Our outer authorities take up residence in our mind when we believe them; they become our inner authorities, our beliefs.  Laughter dissolves our inner authorities.  The critical voice can’t mock us when we laugh at it.  The voice that tells us that “we can’t have or do what we want” shuts up when we laugh at it.  The voice of “shoulds” disappears when we see it as lacking in power through laughter.

When we can’t laugh at something, we’ve given our power away to it.  And that was the message of the big black dog.  Through laughter, I reclaimed my authority, my power.  And once I was back in power, the dog did what I wanted it to do.  I was not controlling the dog or willing the dog.  The laughter restored my true Self, my true inner authority, which made everything right.

When I was a little girl, I was much wiser than I am now.  I laughed at everything.  I remember being called midget and four eyes in school and laughing so hard that I could hardly stand it.  It was just funny for someone to make up a name for you; you get to laugh together.  But somewhere along the way, the lightness of laughter turned in to the gravity of seriousness.

I started to believe others who couldn’t laugh at themselves.  I started to be timid about making jokes because I didn’t want to be mean.  But the little girl in me knew that you can only insult a false self, and quite frankly they need to be insulted.  The true Self simply uses the situation as an excuse to laugh or grow or find intimacy in a new place.  I’m slowly digging that little girl out of her grave one laugh at a time and remembering the real joy and freedom in laughter.

Want to read more about the black dog and humor, click here to read Our Seventh Sense:  Humor.