I’ve always believed that the ability to laugh at oneself is a skill everyone should have. I think that there are a great many times in life where you have two options: you can either laugh or you can cry.
Some of these moments are a little more serious than others, for example, I wouldn’t recommend laughing at a funeral. Context is important here, folks.
I mean those moments when work is just giving you the hardest time ever and you’re so ready to go home, and then you spill coffee all over yourself. Moments like these, you can either sit on the floor and cry (I have been tempted to many, many times) or you can just laugh.
Or when you’re walking along the river, enjoying the sunshine and the breeze, and a bird straight up pees on you from a tree. Like, what are you going to do, get mad at a bird for doing its business in the place where it lives? Of course not, that’s not fair at all. So you laugh. Laugh at the bird pee you have to wipe from your glasses and the fact that this shirt is DEFINITELY going in the wash when you get home.
I’ll warn you now, people are going to look at you funny. What kind of weirdo gets peed on by a bird and then laughs about it?
But, being able to laugh at the heaping pile of garbage your day has turned into will always be a better option than crying, at least then your makeup won’t be ruined as well.
Funnily enough, the more I do this in hard situations, the less difficult those situations seem when they happen again later. (I’m sure there’s a psychological term that encompasses this, but I’m just going to declare myself a genius and call it a day).
This is a hard thing to do sometimes; being able to find the good and laughable parts of a day that is dead set on being the worst isn’t always easy. But, when you can find those moments and introduce some amount of happiness into them, your day doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
There are also many less serious moments when I think being able to laugh at yourself is so, so important. Like when you do something incredibly stupid.
And I have done a few too many stupid things in my life.
Not big stupid things, I’ve never gotten a drunk tattoo or skinny dipped in Lake Michigan in the winter or followed someone to their house and watched them in their bedroom with binoculars from a nearby tree branch. Nothing like that.
But, I have burned myself on landscaping lights and I get startled by pigeons regularly and I am a seasoned professional at putting my foot in my mouth.
Long story short, I embarrass myself on a daily basis.
I used to get so hung up on stuff like that. I would spend hours agonizing over whatever thing I had just done- over the folder I just tripped on in the hallway or the stupid thing I had just said to that cute guy in my class. I would torture myself and play it over and over again in my head until I forgot about it.
And then, I’d usually do another stupid thing and it would start all over.
I’m not sure when I began to change, maybe it coincided with me maturing some or maybe, one day, I just decided that I wasted far too much energy on this way of thinking and just gave up caring. So, I began to laugh.
I would laugh at myself and my perpetual clumsiness and the fact that I could never say a whole sentence without something coming out wrong.
I would laugh at immense susceptibility to be startled by the most harmless things.
I would laugh at my complete inability to NOT touch a hot thing after specifically being told that it was really hot.
I would laugh.
And that was so much better than agonizing, by a landslide.
Life can be difficult sometimes and it is so easy to focus on that. We have gotten so good at focusing on the times when we’ve messed up or the times that life has messed us up. And, frankly, that’s no way to live life. When you focus on the bad, the whole world seems to look that way too.
And, of course, laughter isn’t ever going to solve the truly awful things that happen every day and it won’t solve the big hard stuff in life either, but it might just change your worldview and make those big, bad, awfuls seem a little bit more manageable and the hard days a little better.
So, the next time you make a stupid mistake at work or fall asleep in the sun and burn, try and find the funny in the situation and allow yourself to laugh. The next time you trip over something that isn’t there or get startled by a pigeon on the sidewalk, do your best to laugh.
Laugh at your immense clumsiness and how you manage to even mess up walking, and then move on. Laugh at the hard days as much as you do the great ones.
Live your life and do not allow the little stuff to weigh you down.
Life is far too short for that.