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Laugh and the World Laughs With You

Here's an exercise to get some distance between us and our feelings. Laugh silently for 10 minutes, out loud if alone. This will be hard because we think such things are stupid and hokey and we won't want to do it for more than 30 seconds. "Oh, it's not working," we'll say right away. But let's keep doing it; it is especially powerful to laugh out loud. Any kind of laugh. Notice the kinds of laughs that will come up: a shy laugh, a this-is-stupid-laugh, a big fake belly laugh, an obedient laugh, an I-hate-to-laugh laugh, a high laugh, a sing-song laugh, a low laugh. This seldom works on the first attempt. Don't give up on the exercise. Do it again another time.

When we finally insist on doing the exercise all the way we start to feel just a little light-hearted, no matter how low or stale or angry or resistant we feel when we start. Also, from the repetition of all those phony laughs, we usually accomplish at least one actual laugh and that surprises the heck out of us, and at the same time we see that some small mood change has occurred. The point of this exercise is not to make us happy. The point of this exercise is to see how we can direct a small change in our feelings, which are not all that laughable when we begin, and that we can do it on purpose, regardless of what our mind wants us to do. Our mind will not want us to laugh. Our mind will object strenuously to us doing this exercise. We'll learn something if we do it anyway.

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