100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 85. Laugh At Yourself

This one is not about smiling. It’s about laughing. Don’t you ever miss another opportunity to laugh. Especially at yourself. The longer your laughing sessions, the shorter your misery ones. Looks like a nice deal, isn’t it?

Every good laugh will kill a potential stupid move you were ready to do. I know this from personal experience. Every time I was relaxed enough to laugh at myself, all my decisions were spot on.

And if we’re talking about how we spend our time, I can always chose to laugh about something I did than to be sad about something I didn’t. That’s quality time, if you ask me.

Laughing is the most genuine expression of pure happiness. Especially when you laugh at yourself. 

What Really Happens When You Laugh At Yourself

Humor is a strange thing. It’s almost impossible to explain. How do you explain to somebody that something is “funny”? How do you decide, in the first place, that something is funny? What makes you laugh? And what is laughing, after all?

This was a very intriguing topic for me, 20 years ago, when I first realized how strange and how beautiful laughter was. Among all the species on Earth, humans are the only ones laughing, did you know that? Other animals don’t have that.

It took me a lot of reading, from Henri Bergson’s Laughter – An Essay on The Meaning Of Comic up to many other books on this topic, along with some serious personal research on practical jokes (which led me to memorize a few hundreds), until I came to some sort of understanding of this phenomenon. I don’t claim this understanding is final (nor accurate, for what matters) but it’s helpful. At least for me.

Laughing is the joy of detachment. At its core, laughing is the detection of a “crack” in the predictable structure of the universe. It’s a surprising continuation of a certain action.

A man slipping on a banana peel. That’s the fundamental laughing trigger. Why do you laugh when you see that? And by that I dare you to picture Buster Keaton in your mind, slipping on a banana peel. Because you don’t expect it. Because of the contrast. The seriousness on Buster’s face is in total contrast with his lack of balance. He falls down, he interrupts his normal, predictable course of action, yet his face remains the same.

This contrast, this contradiction, this short-circuit in the way the world works, well, that thing creates a subtle detachment. Instead of being frightened by this lack of meaning, by this “crack” in the universe, we choose to enjoy it, somehow. That’s what laughter is, fundamentally: a way to enjoy the continuous disruption of our universe.

And thats why laughter is so healthy: because when we laugh, we don’t cling to stuff. We’re floating away with it. When we laugh, we’re not proving something, we’re just synchronizing our vibes with the “crack”, we’re just there, releasing that tension, that energy that builds up when we see Buster’s face, immutable, sitting on top of his rubber-like body, falling apart.

Laughter is created by these fractures, at every level in our life. Because of our conditioning, we lose our ability to laugh at everything (and, in all honesty, not all the fractures are laughable, some of them need our energy to fix them on the spot). But the intention to laugh, the intention to enjoy the rapture, the change, the “disfunction”, that’s what makes us survive. That’s what gives us more energy and life.

And that’s why is important to laugh at yourself too: when you do that, you acknowledge that you’re changing, you acknowledge a fracture in your life: the seriousness of your face, sitting on top of your rubber-like body, trying to cope with life’s ever changing challenges.

You acknowledge that fact that you’re alive.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vatobob/2136501005/sizes/o/

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