Humor is often confused with just being funny and walks a fine line next to belittlement. We’re apt to belittle because we’re unsure about ourselves and we think that the best way of asserting who we are is by putting someone else down. Trying to be funny when we are putting others down is the mind’s way of justifying our belittling. But humor is more about welcoming others to laugh at you together, so that they feel enough trust to reciprocate an invitation to laugh at them. Humor doesn’t belittle either of us but, rather, allows us to recognize and laugh at our shared vulnerabilities, our shared frailties. There’s no doubt life can be hard, but laughter is how we can come to terms with all the ironies, cruelties, and uncertainties that we face without yielding to these obstacles.
Although extensive research on humor is limited, there is evidence that laughter and humor play an essential role in managing anxiety and stress of the unknown. Jokes are funny precisely because they break our expectation and help us accept the unexpected. Our greatest sources of uncertainties is other people in our lives so it’s not surprising humor is often used to manage first encounters. The biggest misconception is that people think they have to be somber and serious to be respected, but the best way to reach the hearts of people is the capacity to make them laugh. Furthermore, if you’re able to laugh at yourself, then everyone knows you’re not arrogant. Besides, you hardly ever knock down someone who’s knocking themselves down. And you’re certainly not likely to clobber someone if they’ve already self-clobbered, so to speak.
But don’t feel discouraged if you think you’re just not funny; it’s not something we wake up with but it’s definitely something we can cultivate. Like anything else, it’s a skill we can develop. Sure, it helps if you have the inclination and especially if you can laugh at yourself, so maybe start there. It’s really the easiest place to begin. Learn to laugh at yourself. Laugh and don’t be so arrogant and serious. If you start looking for the humor in life, you will find it. That’s when you’ll stop asking yourself, “Why me?” and start recognizing that this is life.
And life happens to all of us.
Just knowing this will make everything easier, including your ability to accept others and all the things this life can bring.
And you’ll see that it’s actually pretty wonderful.
DAY 32. Love, Ro