My year is ending and a new one is beginning. The moon will be at her fullest on the 2nd of this year and I am using its brightness to teach my 3-year-old to lose his fear of the night. We arrived at our caravan by the sea with hope that our break away would distance us from technology and provide some much-needed time to sit with friends under the stars. Cue gastro. On our first night, the baby woke in with a raging sickness, after 3 days my big boy had it, and then of course the man. So, I am in quarantine. I will not be held responsible for ‘the great campground gastro of 2017!’ The stuff of terrible history books.
This leaves me time to contemplate as I sit by their bedsides, feeling the heat rise out of them and making trips back and forth to the camp laundry… not quite how I envisioned the first week of my holiday but who am I to complain. The weather is beautiful, I have a good book and plenty of time to read it – for the first time since the first born was a baby!
I have been compelled again and again in my yoga to consider laughter, play and joy. It could be said that we have a lot of happiness in my family but I find myself missing laughter, light heartedness and play. We have become serious about the happiness quota and I can’t say its worked in helping us secure it. I spend my days doing all the right things, making sure the children have a warm, secure and loving home. That they have positive educations and good food, but there is something missing.
I complain about this ‘missing’ a fair bit, look at others to bring me laughter, joke with me, play, but I have come to realise that this is my own responsibility. Mine alone and in searching for it outside of myself I am denying my children light and laughter and creating little pockets of sadness in my family. My little earth babies are growing to be compassionate and wise but they struggle to howl with abandon at the full moon and (dare I say it without upsetting dune guardians) run through the sand dunes.
Gastro seemed the perfect laughter challenge so I made a choice. Instead of tackling the giant noun ‘happiness’ as a state of being I would take the beast down by the ankles by looking at the actions involved with it – its verbs; laughing and smiling, and so began my experiment. I thought it would take more than 7 days to have something to share but the results of this trial have been almost immediate. I spoke to the (long suffering) man and he agreed (as he always does) to join me in laughter. Why wouldn’t he though. He was used to me waking up tired after being waken through the night by a boy afraid of the dark, stomping through the house without making eye contact because I was exhausted / grumpy, feeding the kids and faking a smile to them before getting them off to their days. The alternative was that we wake up and smile, follow it with a laugh – preferably great big belly laughs at nothing in particular. I can see why he agreed so quickly to choose laughter.
We are 7 days in and there is a wonderful change… even through sickness we have smiled, we have seen the sun, the moon, the bluest of seas. We have gazed in wonder at sharks (from the safety of the beach through polaroid glasses)… in short, we have seen the world even from containment. In fact, the baby is sleeping through the night thanks to the light of the moon although may the gods give me strength when it wanes again.
I’ve set some rules – because I’m the goddess of this story so, why shouldn’t I? The man has a special rule just for him because he’s such a stickler for his own rules.
Rule 1: Smile when we wake in the morning and then follow it with a laugh
Rule 2: The husband must break one of his own rules a day (my rules don’t count)
Rule 3: Ignore all the annoying things the children do and focus on the (even slightly) good things
Rule 4: Laugh whenever we remember too – or smile as often as possible. Even better is to make eye contact and throw back our mad heads in laughter
That is all. 4 rules. By day 2 I found myself singing welcome to the house of fun as my children looked up at me from the bucket… crazy what a few smiles can achieve. Crazy how crazy I am.
As a disclaimer to any of you doubting the possibility of this let me also add that I was at the angriest stage of my cycle. Can you believe it? We’ll see though. I still haven’t been struck down with the bug. Let’s see if I can laugh my way through that one.
Want to take the experiment further? Check out:
Read: Laughter, Tears, Silence; Pragito Dove The laughter Yoga book; Jeffery Briar
Follow: Osho Hotei (the happy buddha)
Sing: Kirtan to sing yourself to joy
Watch: Dops of Joy; Producer Juliana Borges
I need more! So please leave any readings, funny stuff, resources or ideas about laughter and joy. I would love to hear your own experiments and experiences within this concept so please feel free to comment.