The secret to a long life…laughter. The secret of long-lasting relationship…laughing together. – Unknown
When I was a youngster life was breezy, but I suppose it is for many of us at that age isn’t it? But I’ve often asked myself what happened to that person?
At school I loved to hold court with my friends, telling stories that made them laugh. I was a good storyteller and friends laughed because of a combination of my being silly and over-exaggerating the truth.
There was a lightheartedness to life and to me then—having fun was what was important.
In my late twenties, however, this began to change. The carefreeness and laughter that pervaded my younger years and which had been so much a part of my character transformed.
I became serious.
At least that’s how my friends and worst of all people I’d met for the first time now perceived me.
In my defense I can truly say, I didn’t consciously become serious …it just kind of crept up on me and to be honest, it was mortifying to hear the adjective “SERIOUS” being used to describe me—it genuinely grated on me.
And why did it grate on me so much? Well because it conjured up all sorts of negative perceptions. It’s fair to say that I didn’t think kindly of serious people. I considered them be hard faced, stern, humorless and to be people who didn’t know how to have fun.
As I used these notions to judge people I deemed serious, I, of course, didn’t want them being used to judging me.
Waving away my responsibility was easy—I simply blamed life. I blamed the many trials I had had to endure. The disappointments in relationships and the difficulties of work-life kept throwing at me.
Do you agree that the unexpected curveballs life can sometimes unbalance us with, have the power to make us serious?
Well… just a few years ago I came face to face with just how serious others really perceived me.
In 2013 I spent 3 months living in a spiritual community in the Italian Alps, a phenomenal place called Damanhur. I was doing what they call their New Life Program.
One day, our group of new lifers were working outside…it was a glorious sunny day. Our job for the afternoon would be to repaint the sacred spiral stones, so we were gathered together, listening to the instructions.
During the instructions, one in our group—a man in his sixties decided to play pass the parcel. He picked up a stick, passed it to the person next to him, who then passed it on to the next—and so the game began.
When the stick came to me, I decided not to pass it along. It annoyed me that this man was being so childish, playing silly games instead of listening to what was being said.
Needless to say my refusal to play the game irritated this man—his face contorted in anger and immediately after the instructions were finished he lashed out at me.
He said “I knew you wouldn’t play the game, Jacqueline, I knew you wouldn’t pass the stick because you’re so serious…. can’t you let yourself have a little fun?”
There it was again…the word SERIOUS. It thundered in my ears.
His criticism left me stunned, embarrassed and feeling very small. I felt deliberately tested, but did my best to hide my humiliation, while inside, my uneasiness raged.
I vowed to myself after that incident, that I would do all I could to regain the lightness and humor I once enjoyed in my youth.
How to Find and Embrace Your Inner Child
What I realized after my dressing down that day is, I had lost touch with a very important part of myself—my inner child.
The process of coming into touch with the child inside required me to peel back the many layers of disappointments and hurt I had experienced in life, then work intensively to clear what I found there.
Gradually over time, I started to understand and recognize what my inner child looked and felt like.
Our inner child is that innocent, inquisitive, silly, spontaneous, fun-loving, and joyful part of ourselves that as adults most of us lose touch with.
Of course, I can also appreciate, that finding and reconnecting with this latent, underused aspect of ourselves is not an easy task for many of us. We’ve become so used to giving our time and energy to our work and social commitments.
Our busy schedules leave us little time to connect with ourselves, much less connect with a dormant inner child.
But well, consider this—we all have an inner child inside, desperate to come out to play.The more we can contact this crucial aspect of ourselves, the more joyful and fun life becomes.
The more you grow the more you are becoming a child and that is the state of joy.– Sri Bhagavan
Releasing your limiting perceptions to allow your joy to flow
Since re-connecting with my inner child, my relationships have improved, especially my partner relationship.
By having an attitude of “Life is not so serious” I’ve become more adept at using silliness and laughter to diffuse potentially tense situations in my partner relationship.
Having the courage to be adult and silly, has also taken time and effort, requiring a complete change in my perception of myself.
The person I was in 2013 thought it below her to play silly games. Why? Because back then; I wanted to be seen in the best possible light by others, so tried hard to portray myself as a dedicated spiritual seeker.
Dedicated spiritual seekers behaved properly—not childishly.
But being so concerned about what others thought of me didn’t allow me to be my true self. In fact, it had quite the opposite effect of making me appear overly serious.
After working on myself to change my perceptions, I’ve finally shed my own limiting concepts of how spiritual people should behave, unlocking the doors to a courageous, self-confident and more joyful me.
A me, who at over 50, can play silly games, can dance around the kitchen for fun and who can laugh so much she cries.
This new me is once again telling stories, is able to make her partner laugh, enjoys making fun of herself for the first time and who is once again treating life with lightheartedness and humor.
Making time to reconnect with my inner child brought joy and laughter back into my life. And the best thing of all is—laughter is free!!!
So why not to laugh our way into old age!!