Laugh at yourself

Some people take themselves too seriously. No one is infallible; everyone makes mistakes. Some mistakes are made by us, other mistakes are made by someone else, and many are more situationally than personally based. How each person chooses to respond to mistakes, negative situations, and life, in general, is an important part of his/her personality. I think a lot of things are funny. In fact, I think a lot of things are downright hysterical. David often does not share my sense of humor. For example, many years ago, I was making a presentation at a large insurance company’s annual meeting. The meeting was held at an expensive, historical hotel in New Orleans. The hotel had the usual complement of staff one would expect at a prestigious 4 star property: a door person, a valet, and a bell person were at the imposingly formal entrance upon our arrival. Prior to my presentation, David and I visited my dear cousins in Tallahassee, then drove our rental car from Tallahassee across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to New Orleans, arriving the day before my speech. Our trip was pleasant until just after our lunch at the Central Grocery Store (where else would you expect us to have lunch upon our arrival in New Orleans?). When we walked out of Central Grocery, a man approached us and asked if that was our car, the one with the very flat tire and the tread trailing behind it. It was, unfortunately, our rental car. We decided, because we were just a few blocks from the hotel and the car was packed full of our belongings, to drive slowly on the flat tire to the hotel. The tire tread flapped loudly and seemed to get louder with every passing minute. David was almost in a state of panic, but I couldn’t stop laughing at the extreme contrast of driving to the entrance of this posh hotel in our loud, tire tread flapping, cheap rental car. To this day, I still laugh when I think of the expressions of horror on the snooty hotel staff’s faces! Priceless! It is this type of situation that defines who we are: We can laugh at ourselves or bow our heads in shame; the outcome is still the same but our approach to adversities can be managed. (I sure wish I had a muffaletta!)

I see the humor – the absurdity – of showing up at the fancy hotel, feeling like I was Jed Clampett limping along in his jalopy. In my defense, my lack of humor in this situation was primarily fear that we would not safely make it to our destination. There was no way I could envision stopping to change the tire – which would have meant unloading the rental car of all of our belongings on the sometimes mean streets of central New Orleans. I would not say I was scared, but my options were limited, as was our time, because we had to get to the hotel timely due to the event we were to attend. So, no, that wasn’t a funny event for me. I would take the muffaletta though, anytime. The flat tire aside, there are times when I find humor in things that Melissa doesn’t. I think everyone has a slightly different sense of humor. And, coincidental to writing my response to answer Melissa’s post, Dr. Fran Kinne recently recommended that I read a special edition of Time Magazine on “The Science of Laughter.” This nearly 100 page report on laughter has a September 20, 2018 publication date and reports more on laughter than I ever considered. It includes several articles on The Best Medicine demonstrating health improvements resulting from laughter. I never knew that social scientist and medical professionals have studied humor in so many ways. In an article contained in the publication on the sadness of comedians (see pages 53-56) a study of 1000 adults between ages 18 and 65 from the journal Personality and Individual Differences was referenced as reporting “people with a higher tendency to make fun of themselves scored higher on measurements of happiness and sociability.” Hmmm, Melissa is onto something. While the magazine was about laughter, in general, not just laughing at one’s self, it reinforces that spending time on what some might consider the trivial or silly is worthwhile. The last page of the magazine has a photo of funny man Steve Martin and a quote “A day without laughter is like a day without sunshine, and a day without sunshine is like…night.” So fire up the TV, watch America’s Funniest or The Big Bang – doctor’s orders.

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