Let Yourself Laugh

How the small moments in life can make you a more productive person

Let Yourself Laugh

Hanna Bubser, Columnist

The other night, I sat with my family at the crowded Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul. What we were awaiting was a night of laughter. A comedy show. A night to forget about the stressors of the week. A night to let go of whatever was taking up space in our heads. It was not only something I was looking forward to, but something I needed. Something we all need, at one point or another.

The age old saying “laughter is the best medicine” is one that I never gave a second thought to. Of course it feels good to laugh. That sensation that occurs right after a successful, tear jerking laugh attack is incomparable to any other emotion in the world. Not only that, but it is something that I have taken advantage of my whole life.

I think of the times where I have sat in a classroom, zoned out to the lecture and completely unaffected by my reality. It is so easy to fall into this routine, especially now that we are close to spring break. Our minds are starting to cloud. When even the idea of a break in routine is close, it is hard to find the motivation to complete projects and do homework.

All of that is obvious. It’s nothing new to students.

What I discovered recently is in addition to all that. During these lulls in the year, I find myself laughing less. Though there are some days where I am especially sad, the lack of laughter is not always due to a negative attitude. It’s due to the daily grind, when you don’t allow yourself to have a break, when you’re drowning in homework or when the afternoon seems to drag on and on. We acquire a laser focus on getting through the day that gives us little time to simply be present.

What does it mean to be truly present? Sometimes it feels nearly impossible to rid ourselves of all our distractions and let our bodies rest. In a society where everything is constantly moving, we can be made to feel shameful for pausing or taking our time. This is unfortunate, because there are plenty of benefits to be found from taking a second to breathe. Frances Booth, a contributor for Forbes.com, discusses this exact topic in her article: “What’s The Rush? Take Your Time And Gain An Advantage.” She tackles four main bullet points that I found to be worth taking a look at while also putting my own twist on them:

Booth’s first point is: “Time for undivided attention.” In my opinion, this is huge. I envision this idea like so: try to remember the last time you made direct eye contact with someone and just listened. It takes intense focus and patience, but the result is rewarding. I believe that the positivity that this small act radiates can bring a whole new dimension to the way you communicate with others. 

The next point she brings up is: “Time to join the dots.”  In her article, Booth acknowledges that thinking of ideas and solutions takes time. Often, we rush this project just to get something down on the paper. I am guilty of this as well. We don’t take the time to truly flesh out an idea and make sure it covers all the bases. The more time you spend curating an idea and tying up all the dots and loose ends, the better it will be.

Thirdly, she focuses on the “Time to concentrate.” Throughout my life, I have noticed that people are obsessed with multitasking. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it backfires. When working on a truly important task, I only find it beneficial to zero in on it and offer it your full attention.

Finally, she talks about the idea of giving “Time to reply.” How I see it, it’s like that feeling when you get “that text.” The one where someone says something that rubs you the entirely wrong way. If we act quickly, we don’t always give the best response. It’s worth it to make yourself think on it for awhile so that you don’t make matters worse.

Booth’s article proves that taking things slow can be a real win-win situation. The benefits that she mentions tie back to this overarching idea of laughter and happiness in its purest form. When you laugh, and I mean really laugh, you are taking care of yourself in the most loving of ways. The strongest burst of laughter can feel like the longest moment of joy you’ve ever experienced. That amount of time is time that you are taking completely for yourself.

It’s a practice of self care that is also an ingenious example of how a moment that you take all for yourself can be the most well spent time of all.