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Laugh At Yourself

Laugh at yourself. Seriously, just do it. Think of something just so ridiculously goofy that you’ve done (intentional or not) and think “wow, what a goof I was”.

This past weekend we had a memorial service for my mother (my giant family was not able to convene in October when she passed away so we set something up near most of the family so we could all get together). It was a simple gathering as she wanted. Nothing too solemn or somber, just family getting together and sharing stories. A common theme in all the stories shared about my mother was “she taught you how to laugh at yourself”. This is so true.

So why is it important to be able to laugh at yourself? Does that mean you have no pride? Not at all. What it means is you can screw up, laugh about it and learn from it, and try again. Not being able to laugh at yourself, well you may just screw up and then give up from frustration or hurt pride.

A rather simple example is when I was learning how to snowboard. At 34. Isn’t that when most people learn how to snowboard? Oh my…it was a sight to behold. I’m sure I fell well over 100 times on that first day alone. Hell, there were times I fell getting off the chairlift. What kept me going? Laughing at how funny I must have looked cartwheeling down the hill, getting the snow off my face, standing up and zooming down the hill again. I think “hm, what if I couldn’t laugh at that? I may have just given up”. Instead, I’ve been going on a yearly trip with friends since then and have pushed myself a bit each year to get better and better and it’s just a damn good time no matter how silly things may look. “Hey, I think I’ll go launch myself off that jump. Get the camera ready”. If I land, cool. If I fall, we all have a good laugh and good stories later.

If you’ve got that ability already, you know what I’m talking about. I’m sure you can look back at various instances in your life where not taking yourself too seriously has given you the ability to learn more, to do more, and obviously to enjoy life more.

If you’re one of the ones that is reading this going “what the hell is he talking about? Laughing at yourself? Sounds dumb”, well, you’re kinda missing out. On life. On learning. On a lot of good things in life. Here…let me give you a list of reasons why laughing at yourself can really help you in life.

Why Laughing At Yourself Rocks

  1. You’ll learn more – Putting your guard down and doing whatever task it is, no matter how hard or how silly, means you learn more. If you fail, you can laugh it off and continue at it until you have it down.
  2. You’ll get good stories out of it – Oh yes you will. “Just Do It” from Nike means putting that guard down, doing it, and having a great story of triumph or a funny story of “you should have seen that”.
  3. Criticism is better – When you’re able to laugh at yourself, you’re more than likely able to accept criticism better too (which obviously leads to better learning). Not only that, people will feel more at ease offering constructive criticism as they know they can just blurt out “man you looked silly with your foot like that. Here, try this” and boom, you’ve got it.
  4. Laughing is good for you – It is. Studies prove it. Might as well have another reason to laugh.
  5. Pride can be dangerous – Too much pride can be dangerous for many reasons (I’m not going to list them all out here). One main danger is that this pride may keep you from doing things because “I don’t want to look stupid”. Tough. Get over that pride, do it. If you nail it, rock on! If you fumble a bit, laugh it off and then have a little pride (with some humility of course) knowing you took on a new challenge and learned something.
  6. Life is just better – Roll up 1-5 and you can see how life in general can be so much better if you can just go through life like a bright-eyed innocent child, wanting to explore and learn, laugh off the pain and failures and keep on going.

That’s just a simple list of how laughing at yourself can improve your life. Let’s think of some fun real world situations where this helps.

Asking a girl out. Maybe you spilled something on yourself or said something really dumb. Laugh about it. She’ll see you’re a fun guy to be with and won’t get bent out of shape over the littlest things and actually dig that about you.

Take on a new hobby. Whatever it is, you may make a complete mess of it the first time. “Yeah, I was building a model. I accidently used the steering wheel as a tire.” Ha! That’s a funny story. I’m sure you’ll learn to pay attention to the directions a bit better now, huh?

Take on a new sport. Yeahhh…see above about the snowboarding experience. Or imagine learning how to do flips off the diving board and instead doing a good bellyflop. It may sting a bit but just laugh it off, tell the story, and get that flip down.

I think you get the gist here. I think you can also see how not having the ability to laugh at yourself may hinder you as you take on all these challenges or tasks in life.

Enjoy it.

I thank my mother for teaching me all this. Let me tell ya…I’ve got a lot I can laugh about as I look back at life. I can also tell you that the people who laugh at themselves have probably lived a fuller life than those that don’t. Let’s get out there and live life.

PS – If you want to see how laughing at yourself can help you succeed in business, there is a short post on up at ChiaTown.com.