Laugh at yourself regularly and life will seem less of a struggle

Do you have the courage to laugh at yourself?

Sadly, many singles don't. Millions of people take themselves and their lives so seriously that they refuse to recognize the absurdity of much of what they do. Not that everything in life is a laughing matter. But have you ever encountered a single who had a chip on their shoulder?

They spend much of their time complaining how everyone is out to get them. They're incapable of shrugging off even the most inconsequential slights. They're grumpy, touchy, angry, and self-righteous. It seems as if they get out of the wrong side of the bed--every day. 

That's no way to live.  It's a self-limiting box you put yourself into, turning your world into a nasty place.

Eeek! Could that be you? I hope not.

What's so funny, anyway?

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.

Several years ago, I knew some people who were almost incapable of poking fun at themselves. They had a certain image they worked very hard to maintain, and the harder they tried, the sillier they seemed to the rest of us. It was like the fable of "The Emperor's New Clothes": everybody seemed to be in on the joke except them.

Laughter is a gift from God. He must think some parts of life are pretty funny, or he wouldn't have given us a sense of humor.

Sure, there are times that demand seriousness, but much of the posturing we do in life is pretty pretentious, and we need to recognize that.

Who better to laugh at?

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.

Many people are highly sensitive. They're insecure, and laughing at them is cruel. If there's one thing Christians should never be, it's cruel. But when you joke about your own eccentricities, you're safe. Which comedian was more beloved--Rodney Dangerfield, who poked fun at himself, or Don Rickles, who made fun of other people?

Some leaders refuse to make light of their idiosyncracies because they feel their subordinates will lose respect for them.

Of course, nobody wants to follow a complete goof, but some occasional self-directed playfulness isn't going to make people think you're an idiot. More likely, they'll appreciate you as someone who's not a pompous bore.

This is no laughing matter--or is it?

One of the most poignant instances of humor I've ever read was in Viktor Frankl's deeply moving book, Man's Search for Meaning. A prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, Frankl remarked to one of his friends that after the war, they'd be standing in a cafeteria line and would tell the server to ladle the soup "from the bottom" because the odds were better they might get a rare pea or piece of carrot.

Their situation certainly was nothing to joke about, but Frankl observed that the people who would survive fought to retain as much of their pre-internment personality as possible--including their sense of humor.

When you laugh at yourself, you release a built-in safety valve. You steal power from your troubles. You may remind yourself that there's nothing to laugh about now, but in ten years, you'll be able to smile at the courage you showed during your worst adversity.

How to laugh at yourself, even a little

Desperation can make many of us singles too serious. We see every first date as a life-or-death situation. We tense up on meeting new people, terrified of making a bad impression. We try too hard because it feels like the fate of the world depends on whether this person likes us or not.

If you can laugh at actors in those kinds of situations, can you find the daring to laugh at yourself? If you can, you not only lessen the degree of the catastrophe if something does go wrong, but you also greatly improve the chances that the new person 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 a fool, but let them know you're not a puffed-up grouch, either.

Life is tough. We all need to lighten up and not make everything a matter of life and death. Will it really matter a year from now? Twenty years from now? A sense of humor helps you keep things in their proper perspective.

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.

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