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Try it, I dare you: Laugh at yourself. Although counter-intuitive to our human instincts to typically protect our fragile egos, laughing at yourself leads to great benefits.
Dare I say that laughing at yourself is the best elixir available. Those more inclined to sarcasm and parody may counter that laughing at others is their brand of the ‘Fountain of Youth.” But if you like to find the “funny side of being human,” start wit yourself.
Before I list the benefits of laughing at yourself, you must distinguish between self-deprecation with self-reproach.
In the former, you’re finding the lighthearted aspects of your humanness. You can smile at your imperfections, foibles, erratic behaviors, and suspect decisions.
In the latter, you’re never feeling “good enough.” You believe that you lack intrinsic and external qualities that relegate you to “less than.” Here, it’s easy to feel underwhelming, undeserving, unimportant, unappreciated, and unloved. (And how can you feel love from others when you don’t authentically love yourself?)
Therefore, when you’re poking fun of yourself, don’t poke holes in yourself. Laughing at yourself should never feel like your pouring the proverbial salt in your wounds.
On the contrary, laughing at yourself softens the emotional wounds that may already be present. Humor directed at oneself may even prevent emotional scars from forming. I’ll get into that principle soon enough.
For now, become an advocate of Chelsey Handler’s mantra:[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Laugh loudly, laugh often, and most important, laugh at yourself.’ – Chelsea Handler” quote=”‘Laugh loudly, laugh often, and most important, laugh at yourself.’ -Chelsey Handler” theme=”style2″]
You’re Taking Back Your Power[click_to_tweet tweet=””Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.’ – Dalai Lama” quote=”‘Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.’ -Dalai Lamar” theme=”style2″]
It’s so easy to feel embarrassed or ashamed when others are laughing at our expense. In the absence of high self-concept, others’ jokes lobbed our way becomes tantamount to caustic attacks where we feel deflated, if not destroyed.
But the sarcasm and ridicule would not wield such an adverse effect if we did not believe, on some level, there was truth in what others say about us.
Their words become lethal because our emotional wounds are raw and fester, leaving us vulnerable. Their bitter words rub our wounds the wrong way, and we just want to withdraw and run away.
By laughing at yourself, you’re demonstrating empowerment. You’re not taking the negative comments to heart.
Perhaps you can even find the humor within the joke or criticism.
Case in point: I had a coworker who was routinely laughed at because of his adult acne. (Yes, I used to work with the equivalent of mean-spirited high school kids.)
When confronted with a tasteless joke, he would smile and say, “You’re right, I have to face the truth about myself.”
He ostensibly laughed, and he would start to volunteer other acne jokes.
Before long, my colleagues had no motivation to direct their poisonous darts his way. He proved immune to these darts, and the motivation to throw them ceased.
This is not to suggest that you should counter all types of bullying in this manner. If I had been the subject of such unacceptable behavior, I would have reported the offenders to the personnel office. Others may have resorted to throwing verbal slings at the perpetrators.
But I never forgot the lesson this coworker taught me: Laughing at yourself need not destroy your inner peace or happiness. A person with self-deprecating humor is not usually a coveted target
You’re practicing the art of self-forgiveness[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘When you can laugh at yourself, you are free.’ – Ted Loder” quote=”‘When you can laugh at yourself, you are free.’ -Ted Loder” theme=”style2″]
Religions across the world preach forgiveness of others. Too little scripture is devoted towards the importance of self-forgiveness.
Newsflash: You’re going to screw up! It’s inevitable. It’s human.
- You’re going to fail a test.
- You’re going to utter a hurtful, inappropriate comment.
- You’re apt to fail at a given task.
- You’re likely to forget something important to do.
- It;s probable you’re going to embarrass yourself in front of others.
The list is endless. And not only will you make mistakes, but you’ll make them again and again. Welcome to the journey that is life, and the wonderful world of the human form.
Laughing at yourself is a way to declare that the mistakes you commit are natural and forgivable. In short, it’s OK not to be OK. And this imperfection can be OK.
I remember going on a first date, feeling self-conscious and nervous. It took about an hour to get to her house — a mansion that was by itself very imposing.
I rang the front doorbell(at least I think it was the front doorbell) but no one answered. I walked towards the back of the house, but en route, I literally stepped into a pool, soaked top to bottom.
When my date answered the back doorbell, she saw my sporting the wet look, and instantly knew what happened. We must have laughed about 5 minutes straight!
Usually my serious nature would prevent me from lightening up about a very embarrassing situation. But it was such a random, hysterical experience, that even I had to laugh.
I forgave myself for being so unaware. And it paid dividends. Stepping into the pool forged a step in the right direction because I could tread lightly and laugh.
You, too, must forgive yourself for any perceived shortcoming or ill-fated action. It shows self-compassion and empathy — necessary qualities for a better way of life.
You’re balancing stress[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Laughter is an instant vacation.’ – Milton Berle” quote=”‘Laughter is an instant vacation.’ -Milton Berle” theme=”style2″]
Can you feel that stress and tension in your face, shoulders, and all other parts of your body? Can you almost feel the surge of problematic hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
As these hormones flood our systems, they raise blood pressure, increase inflammation,accelerate heart rate, and exert other troublesome effects.
Time for your body to work for you instead of against you. Self-laughter initiates the release of endorphins, healthy neurotransmitters that will boost happiness and fight pain (both physical and emotional).
Consequently, it makes sense to look for ways to enhance endorphin production. In this quest, you can exercise more regularly, engage in yoga and meditation, and eat foods, such as dark chocolate.
But a quick way to unleash the power of endorphins is to laugh at yourself.
And if you’re not ready to laugh at yourself, at least smile. Smiling can literally trick your brain into thinking your just fine.
You’re Feeling Less Pain[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.’ – Charlie Chaplin” quote=”‘Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain’ -Charlie Chaplin” theme=”style2″]
It may be impossible to laugh away pain, but laughter can reduce it. Through the prism of emotion, nothing seems so earth-shattering or permanent when a good laugh accompanies a difficult situation.
My mother-in-law exemplifies this point. My wife told me that any time she got fired from a job, she would celebrate with a “firing party.”
Now this seems to be an unusual way of dealing with a pink slip, but it kept her from becoming blue. It lightened the challenging news for the entire family, too, and taught her children another way to handle adversity.
Extracting humor from a high tension experience can even be life-saving. I remember reading about Holocaust survivors who actually made fun of their appearance, realizing the insane circumstances they found themselves in. They got through the most terrifying experiences with faith, hope, and laughter.
In addition, laughing at yourself relieves physical pain. Aside from the “happy cocktail” of hormones laughter produces, as described above, there is also the mind-body connection.
The clearer and joy-filled the mind, the less tense the body is, and the less sensitive our pain receptors become.
Moreover, self-laughter serves as a distraction. My son recently experienced a stomach ache, but he gained some temporary relief by laughing at his flatulence.
Laughing at yourself is an anecdote to pain.
You’re Making Yourself More Attractive[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘It was the way you laughed. I knew I wanted that in my life.’ – R.M. Drake” quote=”‘It was the way you laughed. I knew I wanted that in my life’ -R.M. Drake” theme=”style2″]
A cascade of giggles is magnetizing. Joke about yourself and others will likely be drawn to you.
My wife has this effect on others. A school teacher, she occasionally eats lunch with her colleagues. Her presence is welcomed, as she regales the other teachers with embarrassing stories and self-deprecating insults.
They even laugh hysterically when she refers to herself as an “old hag.” She lives her life in the mode of late comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, poking fun at herself with abandon.
People are not used to this way of acting. Too many of us try to elevate our status, proving to others we are worthy of their admiration and accolades.
Making fun of yourself, in contrast, keeps everything more real. Other people see you as more authentic and trustworthy as you’re not afraid of being who you are.
And it’s unique and different, and people laugh when they hear such unfiltered honesty.
Now my wife is an extreme character, and I’m not advocating that you embark on a road of funny self put-downs.
But lighten up, at times, as self-laughter can place you in a favorable light, from other folks’ perspective.
You’re Gaining a Sense of Resiliency and Confidence[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘I believe that the ability to laugh at oneself is fundamental to the resiliency of the human spirit.’ – Jill Conner Browne” quote=”‘I believe that the ability to laugh at oneself is fundamental to the resiliency of the human spirit.’ -Jill Conner Browne” theme=”style2″]
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t wilt when confronted with difficult experiences? And even if we did succumb to challenges, at least temporarily, wouldn’t it be empowering if we could lift our spirits to move forward with our lives? This is the definition of resiliency.
We need resiliency now more than ever. We’re confronted with the COVID-19 reality, complete civil unrest, and a host of other problems — both external and internal. This sense of resiliency can be fomented with hearty laughter!
You may think what is transpiring is no laughing matter, but manifesting laughter helps you navigate through all the ‘doom and gloom,’ and get you through all the absurdities inherent in life.
You’re Setting a Great Example for Others[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed..’ – Bennett Cerf” quote=”‘The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed.’ -Bennett Cerf” theme=”style2″]
Open the curtains, let the sun in, and just laugh … and keep laughing. As you enjoy your life, others will take notice, and it will be easier for them to manifest a similar mindset.
This is especially important for parents who should model merriment and laughter so their children can more readily feel such joy and relief. Children who grow up in homes filled with love and laughter become more adept in handling adversity
As Bennett Cerf rightfully observed, the person who brings laughter into a room is blessed. But so is the person who witnesses the laughter, and can experience it directly or vicariously.
Live, Love, and Laugh
A life with little love can feel empty and meaningless Similarly, life with only sporadic laughter can result in depression, sadness, and loneliness.
Laughter has a myriad of benefits, as noted above, but here is an all-encompassing connection between all the positives of laughter: The quality of your life will soar, and you can more readily rise above the challenges.