I always find it interesting when one is asked to ponder or debate something that will continue to exist despite whatever is said about it. When all is said and done, there will be people who exhibit the ability to laugh at themselves and there will be others who do not exhibit that ability. With that being said I will offer some of my humble thoughts in regards to this quotation.
The first point I would make is that I’m not sure people actually need to laugh at themselves in order to gain perspective. I would rather see people give themselves a pat on the back in response to a mistake or embarrassing moment. In the majority of cases a mistake or embarrassing moment occurs because a person has been courageous enough to put themselves in a position that is outside their comfort zone and that is something that certainly doesn’t deserve to be laughed at.
One of the most important things in regards to not only laughing at oneself but also laughter in general is that it should be spontaneous; spontaneity is imperative to its magic. Therefore, one could argue that the moment you enforce some sort of unwritten rule that one must laugh at oneself it is in that moment that you strip away all of its magical and healing qualities.
Another issue I have with this particular quotation is the phrase “laugh at themselves.” We’ve all heard of the concept of laughing with someone versus laughing at someone. It’s a sad fact that this earth is home to many people with low self-esteem and people who display quite masochistic behaviour. I think encouraging these types of people to laugh at themselves would have serious ramifications and when you think about it in this context the phrase “laugh at themselves” takes on a much more sinister tone. We must also remember that for every innocent giggle or tipsy chuckle there is a darker counterpart such as an evil snigger from a bully. In essence, some people’s perception of laughter may be so tainted that they can’t comprehend the idea of it being a light-hearted form of self-deprecation.
As I’ve just mentioned there are certain people who take great joy in laughing at others in a very callous manner. Therefore, one could argue that perhaps the best time for individuals to laugh at themselves is when they are surrounded by genuine friends. This is obviously due to the fact that any laughter that manifested itself would clearly be an example of good-natured banter as opposed to derogatory mocking. In this circumstance the act of laughing at oneself allows the individual to embrace a beautiful sense of vulnerability whilst enjoying the security of being encompassed in a cocoon of love and solidarity.
The second half of the quotation should also be examined a little more carefully. The implication is that the act of letting other people laugh at you somehow diminishes your sense of power and control. To a certain extent this is true. In many respects laughing at yourself is like telling Lord Sugar that you’re quitting just before he fires you. By laughing at yourself first you take away the power and control from those laughing at you. However, the truth is you shouldn’t care if people laugh at you or what they think of you in general.
I’m sure that I could waffle about this topic for several more pages and analyse well-known phrases such as “A day without laughter is a day wasted” or “Laughter is the best medicine.” But the truth of the matter is that it all comes down to the individual. It is entirely up to the individual to choose whether they laugh at themselves or not. Thankfully the job of laughing at others isn’t an official one. Although, considering the economic climate and the high levels of unemployment I’m sure there would be more than a few people willing to apply for it. I think it would be appropriate to end this article by altering a very well-known phrase, so I say laugh and let laugh or don’t laugh and let laugh. It’s really up to you!