Are we not all looking for that feel good medicine? Some magic pill that will instantaneously make us feel better? Sometimes I come across people and think…”I’ll have what they’re having,” acting silly, carefree, genuinely happy with what they’re doing at each given moment. It makes me wonder what they’re on, or what they’ve taken for such an elevated mood. Truth be told, I’m sure people were asking themselves the same question when they looked at me, and honestly, it was the booze that broke all my inhibitions.

It gave me more courage and more of a “fuck what they think” attitude. I was the master of disguise! Pushing down all my pain, hiding it in places within my heart, secret places no one could possibly find unless I gave them a specific set of instructions which I rarely handed out. I was the actor, director and producer of my very own show, and I put on one hell of an act, as long as I allowed alcohol to lead the way.

Four and a half years into my sobriety, alcohol no longer runs my life, but with it went my ability to lose my inhibitions. Lately, it seems like I’m giving a fuck about way too many things, and that’s got me down. Life is that way sometimes. I’ve got so much running through my head, I lose sight of the bigger picture.

I’ve been looking for that magic pill that will make me really happy again, or is it a serum, a potion, some sort of special mixture, a powder perhaps? Whatever it is, I’ve been on a very long journey to find it and up to now, I’ve only gained some small insight as to what it might be. It has no price tag and you can’t find it in any stores. Retail therapy helps somewhat, yet it’s only a temporary fix. Besides, I don’t have that kind of cash to throw around, so that’s out the window. Happiness comes in small sections, at best it only lasts 15-20 minutes, sometimes only for a few seconds. It’s elusive and hard to find and yet it’s within us all.

LOL (Laugh out Loud), an acronym we’re all familiar with, three letters we type on our phones or keyboard, but are we actually doing that? I tend to think not. It’s more of a pretend word we came up with, some quick response to whatever it is we find amusing. Like a flick of a lighter, there and gone. Days, weeks, months go by before I realize, then ask myself… “when is the last time I actually laughed out loud?” When I have to think back and try to remember, I know it’s been too long.

I take a variety of anti-depressants to help counteract the chemicals no longer produced naturally in my brain, yet with that comes the inevitable side effects. Although it prevents severe depression, it also inhibits the really big highs, like a mood stabilizer of sorts. You can’t inject it, ingest it or inhale it… well you could. They don’t call it “laughing gas” for nothing, but I don’t go to the doctor at the best of times, besides is that stuff actually real? It never fails, when I’m in excruciating physical pain, when I’ve sunk down into an endless emotional pit of despair, or I’m consumed with the world’s problems on top of my own, no matter what the case, a big ol’ belly laugh cures what ails me.

Rule 62 – Don’t take yourself so seriously! I have found there is nothing else on this earth so healing and freeing than laughter, the kind you blurt out and tears begin to build, then your guts hurt and you almost pee yourself. Yeah — that kind. The kind of laughter that’s contagious, so powerful, unique and strong, just the sound of it makes you join in the laughter. Like our fingerprints, we’re all a little different when we laugh out loud. We snort, squeak, roar, chuckle, lose our breath, each one unique to each individual. One of the most attractive things about my husband is that he can make me laugh at the most inappropriate times.

In all my exploration the only place I have found laughter is with others, mostly ones I share memories with, although there are times you’ll meet other people you just “click” with and laughter just comes naturally with the conversation and stories. It can’t be bought, but it can be sold, if you’re in the market. It helps me let go of any and all worries, it promotes healing and invigorates the soul. We all have those moments, I’m sure, when we think back on funny memories and have a chuckle or giggle to ourselves, but I’m talking about the laugh out loud kind when you actually catch yourself roaring with laughter.

The foundation of laughter is having a good sense of humor. My mother once told me, “Angela – if you lose everything in life (which I damn near have), never lose your sense of humor,” and that’s some of the best advice I’ve ever been given. When we’re in the thick of it and life’s got us down, things don’t seem funny at all. Yet I’ve found as time passes and I grow and learn, I’m able to laugh at life, what happened and the ridiculousness of it all. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Laugh at, or laugh with — the greatest thing you can do for yourself is laugh out loud. Find the people that most often make you laugh — at them, at the situation, at yourself. Life is by far much too short to live without it. If it’s a place that makes you laugh, go there, allow yourself to let go for a moment. Make it a priority, schedule it in, set a reminder if you have to, do it just because.

Go ahead, right now, fake a big ol’ long laugh out loud. I bet it’ll make you laugh. Hang onto that, let go of inhibitions. Dance like nobody’s watching. Laugh like nobody’s listening and love like you’ve never been hurt.

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