When we are five, we laugh 113 times a day. By the age of 44, that number shrinks to 11 times a day.
Those statistics, which I came across in Voice of the Innovator, made me feel sad for my adult self who, now in her early 60s and pretty much isolated due to the pandemic, often laughs even less than that.
A few days after reading that statistic, I emailed a long-time friend I haven’t seen in years, ending my message with these words: “I hope you are doing well…healthy and happy.”
He responded immediately with one sentence: “Yes, insanely busy and insanely happy!”
That simple reply gave me pause.
Despite having read at least a dozen books on happiness and taken several happiness classes, including Berkeley’s the Science of Happiness and Yale’s The Science of Well-Being, the idea of being insanely happy had never even crossed my mind.
In fact, happiness, even at a basic level, often felt elusive. And the busier I was, the harder it was to be happy. Instead, I was stressed and anxious, and often heard myself saying, “I don’t have time to be happy now. I just need to get this done.”
Then my friend Laurie sent me a video clip of an orangutan’s reaction—one might say insanely happy reaction—to a simple magic trick in which a man makes a chestnut disappear. Watching the video made me laugh and provided me with a jolt of jolly. The first time I watched it, the 13th time and even the 21st time.
And while I’m still not laughing as often as a five-year-old, I’m definitely ha-ha-ing more often in pursuit of my new “insanely happy” goal.
Just thinking about the video makes me laugh. Perhaps it will do the same for you.