There are few things more satisfying to me as a genuine laugh. I love the sound of a baby’s belly laugh. I enjoy watching my children laugh so hard milk comes out their nose. A favorite sight is seeing a friend doubled over in laughter. Laughing is a wonderful sound and an equally, if not more so, wonderful feeling. Being able to laugh at your own expense is a skill I believe everyone should hone. Life is so much happier when you can laugh at your own expense.

Case in point: years ago I waitressed in an establishment that had the unfortunate lay out of the kitchen being in the basement. Additionally, the stairway that led from the bar area to the basement was narrow, (room for only one server with a tray) and was shaped like a “v,” (up several stairs to a landing where you then reversed direction up several more stairs). Navigating this set up was a challenge; particularly so when you had artfully placed six full dinner entrees on a serving tray. Worse even when someone was attempting the same feat behind you OR rushing to go down the stairs to pick up an order. I feel quite accomplished in my practice as I never dropped a tray or lost an item of food on the stairs, even with the truism that I frequently trip up staircases and almost as frequently miss the final stair as I descend. HOWEVER, on one occasion, when I was ascending the stairs with nothing in my hands and no excuse whatsoever, I tripped on the final step and landed with a total absence of grace into the crowded bar area. Humiliating right? No. Without thought I popped up and performed my best Mary Katherine Gallagher “Superstar.” I was rewarded with a whole room full of laughter. Legendary awesomeness.

I have used the “Superstar” on numerous occasions since. It has proven to be a wonderful aversion to embarrassment.

Another tactic I have found that aptly avoids humiliation is to point out the embarrassing scenario myself. As in, “Oh my God did you SEE that? I totally just walked out of the bathroom and across the dance floor WITH MY SKIRT TUCKED INTO MY UNDERWEAR!!” Yes, that has happened. I was fortunate that my sister was in attendance and raced across the dance floor to assist me. Then we doubled over in laughter and continued to the middle of the dance floor to get our groove on.

Similarly was the time I walked out of a bathroom and realized that I had toilette paper stuck to my shoe. Instead of removing it, I worked my way through the crowded bar and back to my friends (the whole journey hoping the TP would not dislodge itself), and proceeded to show them the hilarity of my predicament.

What is my point? Well, I do actually have one. I watch my oldest daughter struggle to fit in with her peers. She is hyper sensitive and this makes her fodder for being teased. She ALWAYS gives a reaction. Usually her reaction is dramatic, angry and defensive. She seems physically incapable of deflecting a teasing or hurtful remark and equally physically incapable of laughing at herself. Try as I might to lead her to a place where she can not only manage criticism and embarrassment in the manor I have found great success, she is not me. She literally has no poker face. She is not quick on her feet with a comeback or a one line zinger. She is PERFECT prey for a bully. This fact is very hard to accept and deal with as a mother.

Therefore, my point is this: being able to laugh at yourself, being effective at eliciting humor in an embarrassing situation and finding the humor all around you every single day not only makes you fun to be around, it also is a shield against humiliation and criticism. Your sense of humor actually makes you a stronger individual. My one caution: it is NOT funny to make jokes at another person’s expense. However, using yourself as comedic inspiration is quite acceptable. And, once in a while, you will find a friend that allows you to use them in your comic routine… but they will justifiably expect reciprocation; and you would be quite impolite not to give it.

To take a phrase from the younger generation… YOLO… you only live once. So, laugh often. Never take yourself too seriously, (no one else does). And dance like no one is watching, (they aren’t, they are looking at their phone).

PS – So, I went looking for a horrendously silly picture of myself and I found the gem included above. I thought to myself, “self, the whole article is about being able to laugh at your own expense. This probably doesn’t qualify.” And then I thought, “Yes self, but this is arguably the most awesomely hilarious picture you have ever taken.” So I reflected for a moment and quickly decided that my husband, with much work and constant perseverance on my part, has become the type of friend I can both laugh AT and WITH. And then I also thought, “Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” This is not a theory I employ often. But truthfully, aren’t you glad I did? And anyway, the ostrich told me to.