Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Twenty-five: Laughter


You grow up the day you have the first real laugh at yourself.  ~Ethel Barrymore

Laughter is my favorite companion, my best weapon, and a true lifesaver. 

I've been using laughter my entire life to disarm people, especially my Mom. As hard as she tried, she found it difficult to remain angry at a child who was making her laugh. I use the same ninja laughing techniques on my children when they're doing their best to be angry, much to their chagrin. 

Laughter has gotten me out of lots of tight spots. It has saved my life more than once. Laughter finds its way into the cracks of depression and overpowers the darkness with its bright light. It brings people together, initiates and renews friendships, creates bonds.

But laughter can be brutal as well. Caustic laughter directed at someone's perceived deficit can wound one's soul.  It eats away at the one laughing perhaps just as much as the one made to feel less than in some way.

As children we find it easier to laugh at others than we do to laugh at ourselves. Missteps and differences produce embarrassment and self-consciousness. We strive to belong. 

At some point in each of our lives, we've had a really good laugh at ourselves. Perhaps it is when we stop taking ourselves so seriously that we are able to more fully accept our brokenness and our humanity - to develop a more mature sense of self. Admitting, accepting, and finding the humor in our faults helps us to embrace our true selves and, hopefully, be more accepting of others' imperfections.
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