Sometimes You Just Need to Laugh at Yourself

Life can be so SERIOUS. We are stressed out from the constant pressure of our jobs and the ever-lurking-threat of being unemployed. The fate of our investments and savings are at the mercy of a fickle financial industry as well as unpredictable and ever-changing laws.  How will we ever manage to save enough to put the kids through school? And retirement – that may sound like a pipe dream – we worry that we may have no choice but to work until we reach the grave.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the stress, the fears, and the general negativity that these thoughts can generate. And who would blame us – we are talking SERIOUS concerns!

Sometimes you just have to be able to laugh at yourself.

Take a step back, take a deep breath, and indulge yourself in a little reality check. Given all of these real concerns and the seriousness of everything, what can we do to get by? Try these on for size.

–       Laugh at yourself – isn’t it a little bit funny that scrunched-up face you make when you are concentrating real hard? Or how your speech speeds up to a frenetic point when you are genuinely excited? Is there somewhere in your archive of pictures maybe one shot with you in a really-in-style-then-but-now-not-so-much-anymore choice in wardrobe? And do I even need to bring up haircuts – what were we thinking? My point here – there should be in our lives ample fuel for laughter simply by viewing ourselves as we really are. Not always serious, not always with-it, not always perfect, but real, living, breathing human beings. If we cannot laugh at ourselves, we have let an overly-serious world beat us. Just say no!

–       Escape to your happy place – a little escape from reality now and then can be just what we need to overcome stress in our life. May I recommend a trip to your “happy place”? First you need to construct your happy place. I suggest building upon a real life location you have visited to recall actual sounds and smells and sensations. Join me on a quick return trip to my happy place – sitting on a sunny beach in Maui I close my eyes to pay attention to the smallest details: my bare toes are wiggling in the warm sand, a slight breeze blows across the beach, the sound of waves approaching and breaking on the sand rhythmically repeats, the slight smell of salt in the air, feeling a light spray of the surf on my face, and around me tiny fiddler crabs dashing in and out of their burrows as their day progresses. I have saved in my mind a moment that I can return to whenever I need to escape from the reality of daily life. What chance does a stressful moment have against this tropical refuge?

–       Don’t worry so much – if we worry about what the future may hold we miss our chance to live in the present moment which is ours to experience. We cannot know what may be in store for us so worrying is not going to help one bit. It is better to focus on what is within our control now and do the best we are capable of. How often do you see a concerned expression on the face of a one year old? But how often do you see anything BUT a serious, worried, stressed-out expression on a CEO? All worrying does is gift you with premature wrinkles.

–       Make someone laugh – at whatever. It does not matter what the context as long as it is not at someone else’s expense. Laughing is truly contagious. It starts with a little smile and broadens as it engages more of the face, ultimately resulting in a carefree, happy, stress-releasing tee-hee or guffaw or deep belly laugh or who knows – we all have our own personal laugh style. I do not believe it is physically possible to not feel good yourself when you are responsible for making someone else laugh – it is simply against the laws of physics!

Sometimes you just need to laugh at yourself. You need to be comfortable enough with yourself and who you are to do so. If it is a particularly difficult day, you may need to retreat first to your personal happy place to recharge and get back on track. Making someone laugh along the way will make both you and the recipient feel better. Not too complicated a formula really and you may like the effect it has on your life. Give it a try – what do you have to lose?

David Bernard is a guest blogger for PickTheBrain. He is the founder of the blog Love Being Retired.

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