I caught a woman yesterday, walking by herself, looking at her phone and laughing.
I use the word caught because that is how she looked, guilty, as if I laughing alone is somehow wrong.
It’s socially awkward to show your joy alone. We feel embarrassed as if we are wearing our dress inside out. Not only do we experience this strange embarrassment, we judge those who are able to show their emotion with abandon. “Look at this man laughing by himself for no reason,” we say often and then laugh at him.
Why does laughter need a reason? Humans somewhere along their evolutionary path have become conditioned to believe that their happiness is tied to someone or something. Unhinged from whatever that thing is, we cannot be happy.
I have begun to believe the opposite. The only way we can thrive through this human experience of loss, change and suffering is finding happiness within us. By laughing through all of these ridiculously impossible situations life or we ourselves put us in.
So next time, you want to laugh or smile for no reason, do that. And when you see someone else doing it, smile and laugh with them.
Perhaps that is what we need, the permission to be happy. Give it to yourself, and others.