The belly laugh of a little kid is probably one of my most favorite things in the world, especially when that little kid is my own. Why? I think the answer is simple. It is the sound of pure, unadulterated happiness.
I love the word unadulterated here. Google’s Oxford Languages defines unadulterated as, “not mixed or diluted with any different or extra elements; complete and absolute; having no inferior added substances; pure.” Interestingly, without the prefix “un,” adulterated is defined as, “render poorer in quality by adding in another substance, typically an inferior one.” In the context of this blog, I can’t help but see the metaphor that when we become adults, we mix what’s pure with some other substance. In this way our True Self becomes mixed with a false self, controlled by the ego. Laughter becomes a little less common and happiness a little less pure.
In the United States, part of our country’s vision is the pursuit of happiness. We experienced that pure happiness as infants. But then things happen, and experiences turn into beliefs. Those beliefs then turn into blocks and it becomes harder to laugh like a little kid. We start taking ourselves way too seriously and before you know it our hearts harden, and we wonder what the heck happened. This sounds like a sad story, and it is, but it is part of everyone’s journey.
Fortunately, humor can help. Just about anything can make a little kid laugh. At my house, it doesn’t take much: A silly song, a tickle fit, a goofy face or really dumb dad joke can do the trick; You know, a joke that is so bad that you laugh at how bad it is, rather than at the joke itself? Sadly, we often limit this type of humor to the comfort of our own home for fear of judgment, social inappropriateness or some other counter-culture reasoning.
No matter how you slice it, laughter is healing. Interestingly, it is often used to deflect and avoid difficult emotions and it would seem that there are sometimes situations when laughter is not appropriate. Yet, no one would criticize a baby for laughing even if it were at a funeral. Mom and Dad would become embarrassed and probably rush the baby out of the room, but that’s only because they’ve become adulterated.
If you are feeling any doubts, try watching just a few seconds of this clip and try to remember what it feels like to be unadulterated: