For as long as I have known myself, I have been a serious person. My mom recounts in my baby book that one morning when I was a little girl, she found me laying on the floor of the living room face up with my legs straight and my hands folded on my stomach and my eyes closed. When she inquired what I was doing I apparently told her I was trying to find out what it was like to be dead. Yep. A serious soul.
I’ve been labeled many other things that seem to go along with being serious: studious, introspective, organized, hard-working, dependable. And I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard people say, “You’re too serious!” or “Don’t be so serious!” or “Lighten up!” or “Can’t you take a joke?” I often struggle to understand jokes when they’re told and rarely know when someone is being facetious. I would occasionally miss out on cues from my peers that I was being teased or made fun of. I just look at the world through the lens of seriousness. It’s as if my brain is wired to notice the powerless, to empathize with the struggling, and be sensitive to the hard work of being human.
However, I have learned through my recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder that there is such release, such freedom, such power in learning to laugh. So, I’ve embraced that idea and am trying to laugh at myself more often. It makes the perfectionist in me bristle, but it’s so helpful!
Just yesterday I laughed out loud with my boss when I shared my tendency to jump to the catastrophic conclusion that if one person on the planet is angry at me, doesn’t like me, or shares his/her disappointment in me then I am totally unlikeable. I can laugh about that one now that I realize it’s completely untrue.
Then there was this morning in my group workout at the gym when the instructor started doing a move in which we were to raise our arms to the sky, bend down and touch our knees and then bend further and touch the floor, then reverse it. The child in me must have gotten excited because I started doing “head and shoulders, knees and toes” like I was in preschool again while the rest of the class continued with their “proper” way of doing it. After a few reps, I realized my mistake and laughed out loud as the sweat poured off me. I had an even bigger laugh about it in the car on the way home.
Yes, it feels SO good to laugh…at my mistakes, at the things life throws at me, at my character flaws. It’s even better when I can share that laugh with a friend.
How long has it been since you’ve laughed at yourself? Next time something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to, or you recognize some previously hidden truth about yourself, go ahead and laugh. Don’t just type “LOL”. Actually DO it.
Peace, laughter, and health,