The Ability to Laugh at Myself
Did you know eighty-seven percent of people in the United States admit they cannot laugh at themselves? No, I’m just kidding, but it seems to me the numerous people that I have encountered throughout my life take themselves and their lives too seriously and the truth is that this fictional statistic might as well be true. After a brief meeting with a steel door, I learned the importance of dealing with embarrassing situations with laughter.
This is the philosophy I try to live by every day, whether it be conscious or not. At Fairfield University, it seems everywhere I turn on campus there are heavy metal doors. Near the entrance to every building, there are buttons which can be pressed in order to open these massive structures automatically. These buttons are primarily used for the handicapped. Yet, I have seen many people, whom I would like to point out are not handicapped, utilize these buttons. I have, in turn, started to use this addictive method of opening the doors for two main reasons: first, the doors are exceptionally hefty and the second, I am extremely lazy. One day, I pushed the button to open one of the doors on the way to my psychology class. I was too impatient to wait for the left door to open so I decided to use the right door. As soon as I bent my head down to open the right one, the left one opened and decided to meet my forehead. Even though my head was throbbing with pain, my initial instinct was to laugh.
As Agnes Repplier once said, “Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.” Respectfully, I disagree with Repplier. Life, in general, is funny. I think the small incidents of life are very humorous. I would have laughed regardless if it was someone else who had hit his or her head on that same door or the time it happened to me. To prove my point, I will narrate a story about a friend of mine. As he was walking down the hallway of our high school, Justin decided he would try his luck at being a comedian. He began running towards a girl he knew and while jumping in the air, he lifted up his left leg and swung it around his back in an attempt to try and kick her. Justin is not very coordinated, to put it nicely, and he got tied up and fell to the hard, embarrassing ground. However, he jumped up and was already in tears from laughing so hard. I was on the ground too, not because I tripped or fell, (I am extremely coordinated), but because I saw my friend do something so amusing. Justin and I share, what I believe to be a very important trait, the ability to laugh at our foolish mistakes and moments of embarrassments. This may be the cause of our optimistic outlook on life. Justin was able to accept an awfully shameful moment and decide it was better to laugh along with others than endure the horrible feeling of being the object of social embarrassment, while I brushed off the traumatic event of busting my head on the heavy door with the same type of laughing ability.
Laughing at myself is not only important in certain day to day situations, but throughout the course of my life. I could have easily yelled and cussed at the bulky door for hitting me in the head. Instead, I laughed at myself for being impatient with those pesky doors. The ability to laugh at myself makes it easier to deal with the problems that occur in my life, especially as a first year college student. I could lie to you and tell you I always laugh at myself. Sometimes, my frustration and anger builds up inside and it is hard to view a troubling situation in an optimistic way. These are the times when I have trouble even following my own philosophy. For instance, my girlfriend and I were picking up some pictures at the mall right before closing time. The gate was a quarter of the way down at the entrance of the store. I had my head buried in pictures and was not paying attention to what was in front of me. Having the curse of being over six feet tall, I struck my head on the bottom of the gate. I now realize that I have a knack for hitting steel contraptions with my head. I did not, however, have the initial instinct of laughing, but my secondary instinct took its place and I became angry at myself. I was overwhelmed with pain, angry, and a tad bit of embarrassment. The rest of the night, I was in a horrible mood because of that one humiliating incident.
Did you know laughter, to some, is the best medicine? This time I’m not kidding because it is a real fact. Laughter improves blood flow, blood sugar levels, relaxation, and sleep. More specifically, research has shown that humor helps to improve the immune response. It boosts the amount of immune cells, which are influential in fighting off viruses. Stress levels are also reduced because of humor and laughter.
This unique, but easily obtainable ability is an essential component in my easy-going lifestyle. If people take their lives and the opinions of others too seriously, they may miss the humor and enjoyment of life’s little quirks. I try and find humor in almost all of everyday mishaps and this may contribute to my general optimistic outlook. In the words of Jack Handey, “If you’re robbing a bank and you’re pants fall down, I think it’s okay to laugh and to let the hostages laugh too, because, come on, life is funny.” Handey exemplifies my point of having the ability to laugh at myself. Of course, I am not saying go rob a bank, but to laugh at yourself if your pants ever fall down if you do.