Can you laugh at yourself?

If you are able to look at some of your own shortcomings and blunders and then joke about it, that can be wonderful and you would be looked upon as an adorable personality. You appear jovial and become more acceptable in the family and among colleagues, friends. If you are acting natural, it relaxes you completely and you start feeling very light. Clinical studies affirm that it cures you from your anxiety, depression, gloominess, other emotional and physical illness including margarine, heart diseases, peptic ulcer etc.

We are human and naturally we all do some foolish acts or the other most of the time. We commit Himalayan blunders. It is so good to narrate these and raise an uproar of laughter. Come out of that hard shell; emerge from that intricate cocoon and be free to flutter. If you are constantly scared to declare your flaws and you try to remain hypocritically hidden behind a false pretention, and façade, it can be dangerous. It is then difficult to laugh if you consider yourself a heavy weight much above all these so called silly things, and if you have erected a halo and created a false aura of respect. “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly; devils fall because of their gravity” says G.K. Chesterton. If we feel light we can talk about our failures and even about the funny looking nose you may have!
To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at self is maturity says William Arthur. All we have to do is to change our mindset and take a look at self in a sportive and playful manner. After all no one in this world is perfect. It is all these lacunas and errors that make us look naturally human and appealing to all around and acceptable to one and all.

GKC

GK Chesterton had a heavy built body weighing several extra pounds. He had to stumble up the steps and climb upstairs with difficulty leaving him panting. He used to take several pauses on the way and even write a couple of lines during this recess. What is more important is that he was often narrating all these funny situations in life and the listeners laughed heartily. He used to say he was never in a position to reach the railway station in time to catch a train because of his bulky body. He had thus plenty of time waiting for the inevitable next train which offered tremendous opportunities to write endlessly.
Barry Humphries used to say “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century”. GKC’s jokes on himself never made him look silly. He was among the most honored writers of his times. Once you have that ability to laugh on self you will start reaping mental tranquility ;you will be accepted all around as a kind and attractive person. People would flock around you.

“Laughter is a holy thing. It is as sacred as music and silence and solemnity, maybe more sacred. Laughter is like a prayer, like a bridge over which creatures tiptoe to meet each other. Laughter is like mercy; it heals. When you can laugh at yourself, you are free” says Ted Loder. If you think joke and Laughter on self may tarnish your self esteem, it is totally wrong. When Oscar Wilde said” I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying” did any one hearing this suspected he was a man of lesser intellect or writing acumen?.



“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keep friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” says Greenville Kleisser.


Great men who laughed

If you examine the life history of great people you could find innumerable examples of laughter they created by being frank about their own failures sometime in life resulting in funny situations. Mar Chrysostom, an Arch Bishop from Kerala is a living example of a person who can continuously raise laughter by narrating something from his own life. It would require at least 200 pages to narrate all that humor. Therefore I would limit myself to just one instance when a young man on the lookout for a bride approaches and requests the bishop whether he could find someone from his community eminently suiting to his demands. Upon hearing this, the Bishop asks the young man as to what kind of a bride he is hunting for. He said in reply that the bride should be rich with lots of landed property and 100 sovereigns of Gold. She should be fair, slim and beautiful looking like Susmita Sen and should be so lovely like…….Wait a moment the Bishop interrupted. If this kind of a girl had I ever come across anytime in life, do you think I would have grown a beard like this and remained a brhmachari?

Mar Chrysostom always made rollicking comments touching on self. But all these had only glorified him and it never affected the love, affection and respect he commands as a spiritual leader. He undoubtedly enjoys being laughed at by other people. The psychologists call this ability gelotophilia. They look for the joy of being laughed at. They actively and at times deliberately seek and establish situations in which others may laugh at them. They do not feel concerned when sharing embarrassing things that happened to them. They speak frankly about misfortunes and mishaps but also about situations in which they acted stupidly or produced something that was involuntarily funny. Mar Chrysostom doesn’t do this for evoking applause from crowding followers. But it certainly works wonders in keeping audience in good humor and is thus definitely beneficial.

Hoffman studies

Humor training was one of the areas of studies by psychologists like Hoffman .In one such study; the selected people were exposed for few months to a humor training program. Laughing at self was the zenith of their endeavors. We know it is the penultimate stage where a man gets mastery over himself. Beginning with a few harmless stuff they graduate into talking about more serious issues strategically desensitizing them rendering them less self conscious about losing their dignified big boss profile.

If it leaves a bad taste

Though research suggests laughter has a vast range of positive psychological impact and that some medical providers even prescribe laughter to their patients as a part of their treatment, it could have dampening effect if not handled properly.
Anything good can also be bad for you if it is in excess of limits. One should not be making derogatory remark depreciating self to dangerous levels. Back to bed when the day ends if your own jokes boomerang and come back to nag you and make you sleepless , leave such jokes all together. Foster a well-developed sense of self-awareness and a high level of self-acceptance. This makes you hear your inner voice which is always your guardian angel supporting you. Even when others roll in laughter you know your own capabilities. You don’t get belittled in the eyes of others’ and your ego is never hurt.

Conclusion

Look at life in a funny spirit and throw away your thick frame spectacles. Take things lightly ,not in the spirit of whining self-pity, but employ it as a miracle drug and panacea, that will wipe out pain, cure your deprived feeling. Your joke is not an admittance of defeat; but it should be rather a declaration of your conquest of self. There is none more robust than the man who can look within and cut a joke on himself. It is the Everest of self perfection and positive acumen. Never stand there with a swollen face taking yourself too seriously. “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive” jokingly says Elbert Hubbard. You grow taller and mature the moment you decide to achieve the first real laugh at yourself.

You can trust men or women who look at themselves in a funny angle and narrate all those mistakes they made. Such people no doubt make you feel like getting closer and be in the fortune of enjoining that paradise of fun with them. Such people are great leaders and gems who can transform you.


About the Author:

Jose Vazhuthanapilly, BSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 20 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at Josevazhuthanapilly@gmail.com

 

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