There are different types of laughter. Some aren't pleasant: forced laughter in a social situation or unkind laughter at another's expense. But then there's genuine, gleeful laughter that awakens and heals us. The kind of laughter that takes us by surprise; that allows us to open our hearts and let go.
We often protect the childlike parts of us: awe, silliness, wonder, and play. We don't want to seem naive or unintelligent; we don't want to appear Pollyanna-ish. Our habits—and our culture—tell us to get the job done, gain respect, look smart, be serious. All of this is appropriate in measured doses. But it's not how I want to spend this one precious life. Right now, I feel weighty issues. My mom died six months ago. My close friend has incurable Stage 4 cancer. This is serious business. And still, I need to let myself laugh; to let myself be surprised and grateful.
So my radical suggestion is this: return to childhood. Color with crayons. Be amazed. Giggle for no good reason. Ask questions. Do cartwheels or somersaults. Get curious about the natural world. Be honest. Laugh and cry, whenever you need to. Keep your heart wide open.
These childlike qualities are what give me hope for this crazy and beautiful world. Because they allow us to see in new ways. They allow us to be fully present. They allow us to move through life with honest and open hearts.