Those who cannot laugh at themselves leave the job to others

By Khyati Dharod. Khyati is a doctor. She lives in Mumbai, India

When I first read this line, I thought how simple it is. But when I read it the second time it provoked a chain of thoughts.

As quoted by Victor Borge, laughter reduces the distance between two people. It creates a bond of friendship. Travelling by the local train in Mumbai with so many strangers around, when I switched on the fan, I realize it’s not working and all passengers around me are staring at me (as 1/3 rd of them had tried the same thing before me to realize the same thing). I smile at my own failure and many co-passengers reciprocate to my smile and here I have a new group of people to strike conversation with. The next station another girl gets in and the same incidence repeats but she doesn’t make eye contact with anyone trying to hide her shame and ending up with every one giggling and commenting.

Thus it dawns upon me that when we begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. And then when we are confident in ourselves, people lay their confidence in us. The more we try to hide our failure, we end up being a subject of mockery.

When people laugh together they cease to be young or old, masters or pupils, employee or employers, or just strangers. They become a single group of human beings enjoying their existence, their imperfections, their failures.

As Dwight Eisenhower rightly said, laughter can relieve tension, soothe the pain of disappointment and strengthen the spirit for the tasks that always lie ahead. It reminds me of the Comedy show on TV. Most of the comedians are too short, fat, dark, or bald. But they have turned their adversities into opportunities. They are earning by laughing at their problems. They have learnt whatever it is probably won’t go away, so we might as well live and laugh through it.

Same what Barbara Johnson said when we laugh at ourselves; we are bending so that we don’t break. If you think your particular troubles are too heavy and too traumatic to laugh about, remember that laughing is like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t solve any problems permanently, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.

But as life is always biphasic, there also is second school of thought, that if we laugh at ourselves too often, people won’t take us seriously. There is always a chance of being taken for granted. You may not be able to exercise the same control on others as may be the case otherwise.

Probabilities are always there, but we must learn to strike a balance, we must learn to cherish our own emotions and at the same time see that no one undervalues them. We must learn to make others comfortable with us and see to it that we are not becoming subject of laughter.

No one is known in history or legend as having died of laughter. Laugh we must as it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy. Those who can laugh at themselves know how to accept a rejection and how to reject an acceptance. Thus let me quote Ethel Barrymore: “You grow up the day you have your first real laugh – at yourself.” So let’s grow up!!

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