It was a cool night in Brisbane and the afternoon rain glistened on the now darkened pavement. The buses whooshed by but no one else was really out and about except us. We were attending a workshop about being effective. Not more effective, effective: full stop. The mood was light, and some ribbing starting. Jokes and witty one-liners flew, the small group laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed loudly and reached my hand to cover my mouth.


“What was that?” a fellow participant asked, “why do you cover your mouth when you laugh?”.


Do you know what? I didn’t know. That is weird, I thought, why am I doing that? I pondered the different explanations I could give and ultimately said: “I have no idea!”. The conversation moved on. Soon we were making our way home in the dark drizzle of another wet night. In my car, my thoughts turned to the question I was asked earlier. Why is that, I thought. Why cover your mouth when you laugh?

I considered that maybe it was a self-conscious thing? I had recently had a back tooth removed but doubted it was THAT visible.

Or perhaps it was a “cover your mouth” thing from my youth? But I’m pretty sure that was for yawns.

Maybe it was to quiet my loud and often criticised laugh? I’m sure that one had some truth in it. 

Or maybe, it was to avoid spitting or breathing on someone else? I’d hate to inconvenience anyone by spitting in their face.


Maybe it was all these things and more, or it was everything and nothing.


It occurred to me that it was one of those things I just did and that now that I knew that I did it, I could and would stop doing it. Allowing myself to throw back my head and laugh like a child. Be as loud as I liked when the urge to laugh took over. This could be one of the final walls I had to break down to be comfortable in my loud, robust, cheerful personality and self. Maybe laughing should be the aim, not looking good doing it. Life’s just more fun when you laugh with your mouth open.

When was the last time you laughed big with your head back and mouth open? 

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