Sorry, Mom. I didn't listen.

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The serious business of laughter

My son laughs at the slapstick pratfalls on a television show. He laughs at the goofy knock-knock jokes that I tell him. And he is super ticklish.

And all those things make me really happy.

I have this idea that I was a fairly serious child (Mom, is that true?), because I remember having fun, but never periods of a lot of laughter. As an adult, I can say that I am no longer ticklish, and although I enjoy stand-up comics and still engage in the social laughter needed to navigate the world and create connections with other people, I do not laugh easily.

But look at this: I can blame science.

Scientists have been able to link a genetic variant to the tendency to smile and laugh more often. So, maybe I just don’t have the gene that amplifies my emotional reactions. The down side is that I don’t laugh easily; the up side is that I don’t get weighed down with negative emotions either.

But laughter is an interesting concept. This amazing TED talk by Sophie Scott delves into the lighter side of laughter and why we do it. I learned that it takes a lot to get me to laugh, but that is inevitable because the older we get, the less contagious laughter is.

Which brings me back to my son. He makes me laugh. And that is definitely what we all need to do more of.

What makes you laugh? Tell me in the comments.

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