“You grow up the day you have the first real laugh at yourself.” – Ethel Barrymore
“Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.” – Alan Alda
What’s the point of things without a good sense of humor? Why make my list of rules, if I can’t laugh at how ridiculous that is? A life taken too seriously is a terribly boring affair. So, I made a rule to remind myself to step back and laugh at the stupid and/or silly things I do on a frequent basis. A reminder to laugh at myself, instead of doubting myself.
Why So Serious?
This rule starts with something many people are probably familiar with. The usual hippy mumbo-jumbo about not taking yourself so seriously. Seeing the stupid things that you do and laughing at it. Allowing yourself to do things that seem remarkably silly, just for the hell of it.
Perhaps including a picture of Heath Ledger’s Joker and subtitling this part “Why So Serious?” gives a hint at my own weird sense of humor. Maybe my sense of humor isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Actually, that’s funny, too!
Let’s expand a bit on all of this point, though.
The ability to laugh at yourself seems to be a sign of maturity and mental health, both. Show me someone who is unable to laugh at the stupid things they have done, continue to do, and probably will do in the future, and I’ll point out that they’re probably quite immature and/or exhibit poor mental health. Being able to laugh at yourself, not taking yourself seriously all of the time, on the other hand, shows a much higher level of maturity and mental health.
A large part of that train of thought comes from the “Laughter is the best medicine” type of mentality, which I do prescribe to. If more people laughed more often, I think the world would be a much happier, healthier place. I aim to laugh every day, in the interest of my own health. The one thing that will always be available to laugh at, so long as I am alive to laugh, is myself, and so this “Laugh at yourself” philosophy is the cornerstone to health, in my eyes. (I’m not a doctor; this is all just philosophical bullshit, basically.)
I also really believe that we would be far less advanced in our world today, if people didn’t regularly stop and do ridiculous, apparently stupid things. We do these things, and we learn from the bizarre outcomes. It inspires our creativity and gives us new ideas. By laughing at ourselves and letting it all go, we allow this to go on. So laughing at yourself advances our society! How far would we come in overcoming some of our largest woes, if people just laughed at themselves and allowed themselves to try ridiculous, stupid things on occasion?
On Self Doubt
There is a whole additional train of thought about this philosophy of mine, though. Part of not taking yourself too seriously, and ultimately laughing at yourself, is to not doubt yourself. To absolutely believe 100% in your capability.
Are you maybe wrong? Sure. Everyone is from time to time. Maybe you have to turn back and start all over again. That is fine. According to this rule, that’s the time to laugh at yourself; at how remarkably dumb your idea was. Still go, without doubt. Confident in yourself.
A perfect example of this is seen in my love of technical hiking. More than once, I have found myself scrambling up or down a slope that was certainly not safe. Finding myself on an exposed, technical climb without any safety gear to protect me from a fatal fall, I’ve consistently found that self-doubt is one of the worst things to do. To instead stop taking myself so seriously, and go, confident in my ability, I’ve conquered these moments without fear interfering. Without adrenaline causing my hands to shake. Now, looking back, I laugh at how dumb I was for going the route I chose. It is pretty funny!
So, stop doubting yourself. Laugh at yourself and go 100% into the ridiculous, the absurd, the silly. Live your life like no one else can!