Sadly, many of us don't.
Millions of us take ourselves and our lives so seriously that we refuse to recognize the absurdity of much of what we do. We have too much shame, too much pain. (Not that everything in life is a laughing matter.) If we laugh, it is at others not at ourselves. Have you ever seen a person who had a chip on their shoulder; or a “Debbie Downer”? They spend much of their time complaining how the world is out to get them. They are always talking about the negative things in life. They're incapable of shrugging off even the most insignificant things. They're grumpy, touchy, angry, sad and self-righteous. Hmm! Could that be you? Let’s hope not. Although, if it is you, let’s try to change that.
“Laughter is inner jogging.” ~ Norman Cousins
Laughter is a way of accepting ourselves as human. To be human means we can make mistakes. It means we can lighten up. It also means growing up. Growing up means being happy with all of who we are, even those parts of us that may seem odd or funny. If we can't laugh at ourselves, we shut ourselves off from the world. We shut ourselves off from the parts of us we need to accept. Am I willing to accept the fact that I'm human? I‘m not perfect, nor do I need to be. The way I like to think of it is; what makes us perfect is that we are so imperfect.
If you can laugh at yourself, odds are you experience less tension, less worry, and better health. You have the priceless ability to put things in their proper perspective. The advantage of learning to laugh at yourself is that you don't hurt anyone in the process; and you may just brighten someone's day through some self-deprecating humor. Remember, though, this is not about putting yourself down either.
“You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself”---Ethel Barrymore
How to lighten up, even a little
If you can laugh at actors in a sitcom in your kind of situations, can you find the courage to laugh at yourself? If you can, you not only lessen the degree of the drama if something backfires, but you also greatly improve the chances that people will find you human, likable, and attractive.
Try it, slowly at first, in small doses, and in appropriate situations.
Become comfortable with yourself. Enjoy the person you're becoming, and be brave enough to admit your personality quirks.
See how people react. Notice that they like you better when you're not trying to impress them. Don't overdo it and make yourself look like an ass, but let them know you're not a grouch, either.
One of life's greatest accomplishments is to learn to like who you see in the mirror. When you're self-assured enough to laugh at yourself, you've made real progress toward that goal.
Work-in for the week: Share with someone close to you a funny mistake you’ve made.