The Importance of Laughing at Yourself

laughing at yourself

It was a beautiful, bright sunny morning in downtown Montreal. So, before making my way to meet a client, I decided to go for a long walk, stop to get a coffee and enjoy it sitting under a tree in the park.

So far, sounds like a peaceful morning, right?

Well, up until then it was. I sat in the park, sipping my coffee, admiring the sun rays streaming through the leaves of the trees. Then, as I began to walk through the park to go meet my client, my peaceful moment was interrupted by a woman who came up to me and asked if I could stay by her father’s side, who was sitting in a wheelchair, while she went to the bathroom. “My dad doesn’t like being alone,” she said, “Please, would you mind staying with him for two minutes while I go to the bathroom?” Of course, I said. She introduced me to him and ran off to the bathroom. We struck up a conversation and as I was talking to him, a young man came along to ask me for directions.

Now, I won’t tell you what happened in the next five minutes which followed this eventful story and just skip to the end: it was all part of a GAG! That’s right I got caught in a “Just For Laughs Gag.” It will air January 2017, so you’ll get a chance to see it, I won’t spoil the whole thing for you here:)

I couldn’t stop laughing and had so much fun that I couldn’t keep it to myself and told my friends about it. Some of them laughed with me and got all excited about it. Some of them were surprised to hear that I signed a form giving the crew permission to air it on TV. “Aren’t you afraid you’ll look like a complete idiot,” they said, “I would have never consented to that.”

Hmmm, I thought, “Yes, they did get me to believe something that appeared weird and out of the ordinary.” But, the fact remains that I DID believe every second of it, that’s why I found it hilarious and want others to join in on the laughter.

This was a gag but, I learned that laughing, especially at myself, is the gateway to experience the beauty of life. When you are able to laugh at your mistakes, your falls, your embarrassments and circumstances, you experience true freedom: Freedom of your own mind.

Freeing yourself to live your life by not being afraid to be who you are and releasing the source of your greatest strength and potential.

Let me share a personal example.

A few years ago, I send an application to be a speaker for the upcoming Tedx event in Quebec City. I was selected for an audition where I had to present a 2-3 minute speech about my topic. I went to the audition thinking that I would be presenting to two or three people in a room, something like a job interview. You see, at the time, I had zip zero experience in public speaking. I had never given a talk to group of people.

Imagine my shock when I was accompanied through two huge doors and walked inside an auditorium full of people who would be judging my speech. I was asked to walk up to center stage, stand in the middle of a big red carpet with two spotlights on me and a camera at the back of the auditorium filming the whole thing.

I wanted to die! I finally understood why public speaking is listed as the number one fear before death.

As I walked towards the red carpet, I began to tremble and shake and kept hoping that I wouldn’t stumble off the stage in my heels. I made it to the carpet alright, but by then I could no longer feel myself inside my body, my blood ran cold and my mouth was completely dry. I began to speak. I could hear the words coming out of my mouth but, I had no idea what I was saying. Then, a woman standing at the back, put up a green card to indicate the two minute mark. I completely froze. My mind totally blanked out and I went silent for a good ten seconds. Let me tell you, up on that stage, ten seconds seemed like an hour. Anyway, I continued rambling on, finished my speech and ran off that stage. I pushed the doors open and went straight for the bathroom. I thought I was going to throw up. The whole way to the bathroom, the bashing began…

“What a complete idiot. You made a total class fool of yourself. What the hell were thinking going through with this. That’s it, it’s over. You are never, ever doing that again. You can forget the whole thing.” Now I’m being polite here, because that day, I was so much more colorful with my choice of words.

Anyway, when I got to the bathroom, I stood behind the door for a while, trying to get my body to calm down. I finally walked to the sink to splash some water on my face.  The moment I looked at myself in the mirror, I started to burst out in laughter.

It felt so good. Like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I looked at my reflection and said, “You did it! It was a total disaster, but you did it. The worst is over and now at least you know what you need to do to make this thing happen.”

I was not selected for the TEDx event. But, I had faced one of my biggest fears and wasn’t about to let it control my life. I joined a toastmasters club and not long afterwards, I gave my first conference. Today, I have given many public conferences and last spring I began giving them in South America. And, I look forward to giving many more!

When you can laugh at yourself, you give yourself permission to learn from all your experiences instead of being trapped in them, building a wall around yourself and staying stuck behind that wall living the same situations over and over again.

Laughing at yourself gives you freedom to accept yourself as a human being first.

We all came in this world with innocence and fragility. We all had our share of trial and error as we learned to walk, talk, read, write and so on. But, we did it. Somewhere along the way, we forgot that as human beings, we still hold that fragility within us as we journey through life and learn from our adversities. Laughter invites joy and happiness in our lives, gives us the energy to celebrate the whole of life and release our potential out into the world.

Remember, we are all precious Beings, not perfect, but precious; So are you!

Try to re-tell one of your frustrating moments, whether it was a mistake, a rejection, a failure, an embarrassment, in a humorous way. What happens in your attitude?

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs and tagged , .

4 Responses to The Importance of Laughing at Yourself

  1. Thank God that you did not stay in that place. I love the fact that you keep improving yourself in public speaking because you chose to laugh to yourself and to your mistakes. I think that one of the reason why we fail to learn new skills it is because we want to master the skill at the first attempt. And when we fail, we quit . If we can learn to laugh to our life and errors we will enjoy each moment of our life.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Zakari,

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your beautiful words of encouragement!

      I agree that a major reason why we end up giving up is because our expectation of already honing the skills at first attempt in trying something new. Laughing at our mistakes will make us patient with ourselves, keep moving forward and realize that we never stop learning from life.

  2. Antonia says:

    Hi Charles,

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience! I’m sitting here laughing WITH you:) We can all relate to your story and our own First experiences, whether a date, a job interview or any new skill. Laughing has a magical way of letting it go and move forward.
    I’m sure she has had a few chuckles over that experience as well!

  3. Charles Hesse says:

    Antonia, many years ago when I started college, I met the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I had not dated in high school, and my dating experience in college was still very, very limited. Somehow, I managed to work up the nerve to ask her to go out for dinner. Amazingly (to me, at least), she said yes!

    I was so incredibly nervous. The last thing I wanted to do was appear foolish or that I was not worthy of her interest. Of course, I put so much of my energy (and fear) into being ‘perfect’ that I did the one thing that doomed the date. I didn’t pay attention to her. I was so focused on myself, at not making any mistakes, and trying to appear ‘cool’.

    There was, I’m sure, nervous conversation. The reason I am uncertain is because I don’t remember any of it other than the fact that I could barely eat. My whole being became focused on not taking big bites in case she wanted to talk or that food might somehow fall out of my mouth.

    There was no second date and it took me many years before I could look back at that one date and laugh at how silly I was. By trying to be ‘perfect’, I wasn’t being myself. It had never occurred to me until much later that perhaps it was the real me that she had been interested in. Why else would she have said yes?

    It also never occurred to me until much later in life that perhaps she had been just as nervous as me. Maybe she looks back at that disaster and laughs, as well. I hope so.