This I Believe

Billy - minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on February 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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“Laugh it off,” said a friend after I embarrassingly fell flat on my face. Laughter is something that can have two opposite effects on people, but something I could not live my life without. It can break ice and bring people together and it can isolate people and make them feel bad. Despite its possible negative aspects, I think it is one of our greatest human tools.

Nothing can make a bad day better like someone making you laugh. It is often uncontrollable; even though sometimes you feel so bad you don’t want to smile or laugh when your friend tries to cheer you up, your mouth still spreads and your teeth still shine through, as a blast of air shoots out of your mouth. It is something I could not go through a day without doing. Laughing is very therapeutic.

Today we live in a culture that is afraid to laugh at a lot of things. Everyone is so concerned about being sensitive, not offending anyone, and being politically correct. I realize that hating on political correctness has become cliché, but I maintain that trying to be P.C. is holding us back (and its impossible). In this hyper-sensitive world, the smallest comment that a group deems offensive can kill someone’s image. I’m not advocating that everything should be laughed at though. Kramer’s career deserves to be ruined; there are certain things that are clearly not funny. Finding this line is the hardest part, and the grey area surrounding what is and what is not funny is the strongest argument to not laugh at anything offensive at all.

But don’t be afraid to laugh. Mostly, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and don’t be afraid to let other people laugh at you. I try to avoid laughing at the misfortunes of others or laugh at things they cannot control. But when someone trips and falls, if they’re not (seriously) hurt, it probably warrants a hearty laugh and they should laugh at themselves too. If everyone could stop being so self-conscious and laugh with people rather than just be laughed at, it could go a long way. If everyone could ease up a bit and stop being so sensitive, it could ease a lot of tension in the world. The power of laughter is something than cannot be underestimated. So laugh, a lot, especially at yourself, but also try to laugh wisely.