“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”—Mark Twain
Some of you know my “15 Rules to Live By“:
1. Be Kind.
2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to you.
3. Write poems, even if only in your head.
4. Sing out loud, even if badly.
5. Dance, even with no rhythm.
6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal.
7. Find things to be in awe of.
8. Be grateful for what you have right now.
9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”
10. Duh, do yoga.
11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.
12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.
13.Take more pictures.
14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.
15. Thank the Universe in advance.
My first and most important rule: be kind.
But today we will talk about rule number two: having a sense of humor, especially when it comes to yourself.
I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t take your yoga practice seriously, or your job or anything else that is important to you, but you should never, ever take yourself seriously.
Why? Well, for one, it is boring. It’s extremely dull to be around folks who don’t have a sense of humor, who can’t laugh at themselves.
I find that when I lose my sense of humor it is usually when something in my life is out of alignment or when I am over tired or stressed. I start to get offended easily. I don’t laugh or smile as much.
When I fall in a yoga pose, I most certainly do not laugh.
Here’s a tale: At my last retreat in Mexico, the group decided to play a practical joke on me. (Side note: if you take yourself seriously, practical jokes do not ever seem funny to you.)
They decided that on the third chair pose, of the last night of practice in Mexico, they would all moon me. I should have known when they set up cameras and asked if it was okay to shoot a video. (Being the social media obsessive that I am was over the moon at this idea. Yes, yes, please shoot the video and make it viral. How fun! How Facebook savvy I thought they all were being!)
So the third chair comes and I happened to be facing the ocean. I turn around to the class and I have a sea of backsides facing me. Now, what did I do?
A) get upset and accuse them of being disrespectful
B) Pull my own pants down and moon them?
You already know the answer was B and is Bare-Ass. I had to laugh. There was no other option for me.
Like kindness, laughter is always the easier choice. The choice that just feels better.
I encourage laughter, and joy and finding more humor in situations, always. And yes, in my yoga classes, too.
I often find there to be an incredible lack of a willingness to laugh.
Plus the mooning situation showed me that I attracted a roomful of people who had awesome senses of humors (and tushies) and were willing to laugh at themselves. How cool is that?
Plus, they thought of a new yoga pose: Full Moon! Yes, there is video and no you cannot see it. I’ve made promises. I’ve pinky sworn.
Sometimes when we look at why we are upset it turns out we can easily laugh instead; if we look at it with different eyes. Or listen with new ears.
Having a major hearing problem, I have to laugh about it all the time or I will sit in a dark corner and cry. I have gotten my friends used to seeing subtitles on my television. They say they are becoming better readers, in fact. I have to laugh at the fact that when someone says their name is “Dan” I call them “John.”
What is the alternative?
Here are some steps to laugh more in your life, especially at yourself:
1) When you fall over as you attempt a tree pose in yoga, laugh and say “I meant to do that.”
2) When someone cuts in front of you in line at the coffee shop, offer to buy their coffee. Yes, for real. You are having a sense of humor and applying Rule 1 of kindness.
3) When someone hurts your feelings take a look at what they said and see if it is your ego that is actually getting offended. If it is, ask your ego out on a date. Buy it a nice meal and a glass of red. Make it feel good so it forgets all about those hurt feelings.
4) When you look in the mirror, instead of criticizing yourself, have a laugh at how absurd it will sound 45 years from now. Think of yourself as 98 years old, looking back on such nonsense.
5) When you make a mistake in life, especially if it is something non life-threatening, see if you can laugh at yourself instead of berating yourself. If you pocket call someone and end up singing into their voicemail for seven minutes, can you laugh? Even if it is someone you just had your first date with? Can you look back at a failed relationship and instead of being embarrassed, smile or laugh?
6) Or better yet… Can you look at perceived ‘mistake’ and realize it was not a mistake at all but rather an opportunity for growth, love and humor.
7) When you feel irritated by your parents, or your kids, can you just divert your annoyance. That’s it. You will probably realize you are being annoyed at something that you have been annoyed with for a long long time. That it’s not even what is going on at the moment that’s bugging you. That in itself should be funny to you. It’s like we, as humans, are trapped in the past. It’s like we, as humans, need to get our butts back to the present moment and have a big laugh at our obsession with the past.
8) Tickle someone.
9) Get tickled by someone.
10) If you aren’t ticklish, you should be. It tickles.