Life is serious. You might die.
Uh. Yeah? I guess so.
My dear mother gave me one gift that has been more valuable to me than anything I know or can imagine. She taught me to laugh at myself.
It's easy to laugh at other people or at situations that don't affect us directly. That's the trade of comedians. They present an opportunity to sit in comfy chairs and laugh at stories and witty wordplay in relative safety. It's good therapy.
Laughing at yourself, however, is a bit more difficult. We grow up with constant reminders that life is, in fact, quite hard. Those reminders come from all sides and are unrelenting. It can leave us with little to laugh about.
The burden of day to day living can wear you down. We are confronted with a barrage of bad news and an increasingly frequent threat of annihilation. Sometimes all we want to do is curl up somewhere warm and sleep. Forever.
I heard the phrase, "I choose to be amused," some years ago. It summed up nicely the unspoken philosophy my mom gave me. When the shit hit the fan, we assessed the situation, then laughed about it. We got plenty of practice during my childhood.
And I still get plenty of practice as an adult.
I turned a corner in my truck one day. The traffic was tight. It was lunch time and people were out to grab a bite. The vehicle in front of me suddenly stopped, and I braked hard to avoid slamming into them. Just as I stopped, the truck behind me slammed into me, causing me to smush into the tail of the one ahead.
After all the vehicles were sorted out and moved off the busy road, the driver who hit me was being angrily apologetic in a sort of unfriendly way. Understandable. I tried to lower the tension by saying, "Well, it could be worse," and laughing.
The guy's companion shot back, "There's nothing funny about this." He glared. I said, "Well, it's better to laugh. There's nothing gained by getting mad." The two of them walked away taking their gray cloud with them. A fragment of it remained.
There's rarely anything to be gained by getting mad. I choose to be amused. Odds are, you can't do anything about whatever it is anyway. Even if you could, being angry only clouds your thinking at the moment, and weighs you down in the long run.
Why carry around a load of anger about something you can't fix.
Of course there are times when righteous indignation (now there's a phrase you don't hear anymore) is appropriate. There are times when laughter is inappropriate and should be avoided. But for the most part, people will appreciate a touch of levity in a tense moment. Choose to provide it. Choose to be amused.