Why DO Grownups Stop Laughing?

Written by on April 18, 2014 in Conscious Living, Happiness & Humor, Thrive with 0 Comments

James Altucher | The Altucher Confidential 

Dan Harris, the anchor of the ABC show Nightline, had a total panic attack on TV in 2005 in front of 5 milion people. He simply shut down and couldn’t continue while live on the air. Everybody saw it and he thought his career would be over.

He wrote a book about it, called “10% Happier” and we talked about it on my podcast. I won’t give it away. I hope you listen to it.

But I thought of my post the other day about endorphins and one statistic I found:

A kid laughs on average 300 times a day. An adult laughs on average….five times a day.

What the…!?

How did we go from 300 to 5? What the hell happened to us? That’s why we start to panic during the day!

Did we cross some bridge of crap and tears and now here we are: drones that wake up, go to work, backstab each other in office politics, watch Breaking Bad, and then go to sleep and Die? Every single day?

Did someone slip a pill into the Starbucks coffee we drink every day? A no-laughing pill?

Laughter is really hard as an adult. It has to be. Else, how did we go from 300 to 5! That’s a HUGE gap. There is no arguing that something really bad and scary and sad happened to us between childhood and adulthood.

And laughing is so critical.

How many times have you heard the story: So-and-so got diagnosed with chronic bad terminal disease XX and was given three months to live so she decided to watch a comedy movie a day for the next three months and now 15 years later she’s still alive.

Doctors even call laughing, “inner jogging” because it does all sorts of good things for our health, our brain, releases endorphins, and makes us happier, etc etc.

So let’s go back to 300. I thought about why the gap exists. Here’s what I came up with:


In my podcast with Charlie Hoehn he told me he basically solved his anxiety issues by “playing” more. What does this mean? If someone called him up for a meeting he would say, “Sure, bring a ball and let’s meet in Central Park and play catch”.

When I was a kid we’d all go to school, play for 20 minutes or so in the playground, then play for an hour at lunch, and then after 3pm it was ALL SYSTEMS GO and my friends and I would play until about 6 or 7. Until it was DARK and there was no more play to be squeezed from the day.

Every day, from now on, I’m going to play. Forever.


We wear the right uniform to work. We say the right things. We politically figure out which “us” versus “them” we belong to.

People think kids are afraid to be embarrassed in front of their peers. But I can tell you it’s much worse as an adult. Your judged on looks, opinions, what we do moment by moment. I mean, kids cry if they don’t get what they want. Adults can’t do that.

Kids also jump for joy when they are happy. I don’t remember the last time I saw an adult do that.

And kids hit each other. Just for fun. They just slap each other in the face. Go ahead and try that now!

And then later at night, I can speak for myself, I wonder what people think of me. What I wrote. What I said on a podcast. What I said at a party. It’s like I rewind part of the day and replay it, totally wasting more opportunities for fun and laughing.

Did I say or do something wrong?

Answer: yes! Just by thinking about it.


Kids used to fart and then laugh about it. In basements all across the country we even came up with the same rhymes. “If you smelt it, you dealt it”.

Adults don’t rhyme about farts anymore. Instead, they go to the opera. Opera is not funny. At least, none that I’ve been to. Correct me if I’m wrong.


I don’t mean to be a downer on alcohol. People drink. I get it. It’s social.

And, for very very short-term, it helps you loosen inhibitions and there’s a variety of reasons (sex) why one would want to do that.

But the reality is: Alcohol is a depressant. Which means it makes you more depressed.

And everyone basically drinks at night and then wakes up slightly more depressed than their baseline depressions and then goes to work where they become more depressed because works sucks and it’s filled with other depressed people.

Then we feel “stuck” and that we are “trapped” and we need to reinvent ourselves but we don’t know how. We get these vague feelings that we are not fulfilling our purpose in life. Which brings me to…


Purpose is largely a myth that gets encoded into our brains sometime in our 20s and NEVER leaves us again. When I was nine I thought my purpose in life was to hit the ball better in little league baseball.

But when I was 25 I thought my purpose in life was to do something that would CHANGE THE WORLD.

That is a lot of responsibility. Somehow between nine and 25 I went from hitting a ball with a stick to creating a one government world where nobody was angry anymore. And I would be rich.

People get depressed now if they feel they are not fulfilling a purpose in life.

Here’s what I think purpose is: the universe doesn’t know anything. So it cut off tiny pieces of itself to go out there and experience things, any things, and then come back home when they were done.

That’s it. So whatever you are experiencing today, good or bad, the universe is learning and happy and grateful to you because it is exploring new things about life.


No other purpose.

Back to hitting a ball with a stick.

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