I was told to write ‘I will not laugh in class,’ 100 times on the board. The teacher sat next to me marking his papers as I wrote I will not laugh in class over and over again. The more I wrote, the more I felt the urge to laugh, which I proceed to do so. ‘What are you laughing about?’ Asked Mr. H… ‘Why am I being punished for laughing Sir? This is hopeless, get out of here.’ He replied.
I was often asked the same question at university, at work, in fact everywhere. My answers were varied; I am laughing at everything, nothing, I don’t know, this dysfunctional organisation, it’s just me, I laugh all the time, it is my personality. Some friends would often ask me to make them laugh, which I did, but would remind them it was their responsibility to make themselves happy in the long term; then we would laugh some more.
Don’t get me wrong my life has not always been great, like everyone else I have had some terrible times, but I always managed to laugh no matter what was thrown at me.
One day my brain came to an almighty halt as one of my work colleagues asked me. Why are you not laughing?
• Did I hear right?
• Did I just get asked why I was not laughing?
• When did I stop laughing?
• Why did I stop laughing?
• Had the Public Service rung every piece of enthusiasm and creativity out of my very being?
• Why was I not taking responsibility for myself?
I remember thinking; I am in deep trouble, I have stopped laughing. Laughter is a major part of my personality; I make my friends laugh, and my clients laugh. In the most horrible times in my life, I have laughed. Besides the pure joy of laughing and having fun, it is also my coping mechanism in terrible times; it serves me on both sides of the spectrum. Laughter is part of who I am, a part that makes me whole; it completes me, it embraces me.
I asked myself some simple but powerful questions that day, and have also turned them into questions for others that might find them helpful.
• What is a major part of your life that you no longer practice, but it is a vital part of your personality and wellbeing? My answer was laughter, what is yours?
• When did you stop using that part of your skill set to make you the best person you can be? I asked myself did this happen over time without me realising it, or did it hit me suddenly? I identified it as a specific incident, which snow balled after that. What about you?
• Why did you stop doing that very thing that makes you unique? My answer was sheer exasperation in working in a dysfunctional organisation. I had lost the art of having fun, something I had always done well. What about you?
• What is it, or who is it that has rung every piece of enthusiasm and creativity out of you so that you no longer function the way you used to? My answer was one particular Public Service Department, what is your answer?
• Why are you not taking responsibility for what makes you function to your full potential? I got a great answer here; I took my power back, and the laughter was explosive. What is your answer?
I answered my questions all those years back, and made the changes that were needed, and have not stopped laughing since. What about you? If you needed to answer such questions, did you make or are in the process of making the necessary changes to live your life to its full potential? I hope so, we only live once, let’s make the most of very minute.