“I refuse to join any club that would have me for a member.” Groucho Marx
All the days of the afflicted are bad,
but one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast Proverbs 15:15
I believe that if we are willing to laugh at ourselves, we will never run out of material. Yes, it is true, and it is a principle of good mental and emotional health. Learning to “not take ourselves too seriously” is a key to contentment, and a tool for continual renewal.
Laughter at ourselves is healthy, refreshing, and it takes the edge off of trying to be perfect. It is far better to be aware of our own mistakes, foibles and quirks than to be blind to them, only to have to have someone else point them out to us. If they do, we might become defensive- especially if at the core we know it is true. Don’t you just hate that?
Sometimes anxiety says to us- (remember, I said in an earlier blog that anxiety is our traveling partner, so we might as well get used to it)- “you should have thought of that”; or “that’s not gonna work”; or “this project will be a disaster”; or “if people find out how incompetent you are…”
I remember telling my interns a story when I was supervising students.
Many years ago, I had just taken a new job at Miami County Mental Health Center, having come from work at the state hospital as a social worker. I realized that I had a huge learning curve in working in a community mental health setting. My work at the state hospital had been difficult, but it was a very different challenge in this new setting. I thought to myself “If they have any idea how incompetent I am here, they will surely fire me”. And I laughed. It was not true, really. I mean, I was incompetent, they would just never get the chance to find out!
My interns usually laughed, and also felt great relief. Because that is exactly how they felt too at the time. My willingness to laugh at myself, and then share it, gave relief to a common anxiety- “I will be found out as a fraud”. The truth was, we weren’t frauds, just inexperienced, and we knew it. But laughing about it defused it, normalized it, and we could get on with the business of learning, not worrying.
So, laughter is good, especially when we can see it in ourselves. Like I said, we’ll never run out of material.