I was watching two adorable kids, my grandkids, look at each other and then explode in laughter. I flashed back a few decades to when I was a child laughing at the silliest things. I chuckled just recalling the giggles, the roars of laughter, and many times I was rolling on the floor laughing so hard I thought I was going to burst. I also recalled that many times when I stopped laughing I couldn’t even remember what was so funny in the first place. As kids, laughing was second nature we could simply look at each other and burst out laughing.
AND THEN… I got older, all grown up, and the laughter slowed to an occasional spurt. I found the only time I laughed really hard was when I went to a comedy club or watched a funny movie. Life became ‘REAL’ serious and I became too serious in the process.
As I watched my grandkids I wondered did life really get too serious? Or did I loose my sense of humor? or perhaps both? I became so focused on ‘maturing’ and being successful I had lost my daily laughter.
To compound things I bought into the lie, one of my managers said I was too bubbly to be an executive. I became an executive and each day I laughed less. I learned to be serious and focus on what it takes to be a real success.
Over the past few years I started to take a deeper dive into some of the works of the ‘old masters of success’ and one of my favorite success champions, Andrew Carnegie, once said,
“There is little success where there is little laughter”
Oops, somewhere along the way I had let laughter shrink. I kept my smile, just not the daily giggles and the deep belly laughter. I had been successful and yet the word ‘little’ kept jumping off the page. Little laughter, little success.
Could I really go to a higher level of success by intentionally bringing laughter into my daily habits? I laughed when things were funny, however I just wasn’t finding a lot of ‘funny’ in life. I was having fun and enjoying life, but FUNNY LIFE, not so much.
To add fuel my curiosity I did something I rarely do, I watched TV and an old Charlie Chaplan movie just happened to come on. I was in captivated by what he so masterfully created in those first movies. Charlie wrote:
“To truly laugh you must be able to take your pain and play with it.”
Ok, That’s it. Now I get it, time to get some laughter intentionally back in my life by playing with pain or embarrassment, or discomfort, disappointment or even frustration. When I dialed it down to degrees of pain I remembered a time when I was in FIJI at an Executive Program with Tony Robbins. Each day we spent brain storming, thinking, working hard and then we would go outside and play. Everyday it rained when we were outside. My first response was to retreat back under cover and we quickly learned to play in the rain, like we did as young kids. In fact just as a precaution we had many village kids playing and laughing in the rain with us. This way all of us executive could get comfortable again being silly by paying in the puddles, you know for the kids ;0)
It was incredible the creativity that was revealed in that week, laughing and playing with our greatest teachers, the Fijian children.
Between the flash backs and Charlie Chaplan, I decided it was time to enter an experiment. Time to bring back the laughter of childhood. My family thought I had lost it and even questioned what was in my water. One night we had a group of people at the house one night and I laughed so hard at myself, I couldn’t continue sharing. I just cracked myself up. Laughing at the silliest things. WOW, did that feel good.
It became contagious. When I start taking myself too seriously I put myself in TIME OUT and institute “playing with pain”. The pain of embarrassment, the pain of disappointment, the pain of loss, the pain of forgetting really important appointments, the pain of hurt, the pain of stupidity, the pain of ….
If Charlie were still alive I would ask him what his Keys to Playing with Pain were. Since he is not try these out:
- Smile 1st. Fake it at first if you have to because it works to relax all the muscles and lessen the tension.
- Laugh at yourself – share your embarrassing moment, the best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
- Look for humor in all situations. Seek the irony in the situation its there just beneath the surface if your looking for it.
- Surround yourself with reminders to laugh, screen savers, fun friends, funny videos and quotes. We make funny faces at each other at our house, and it instantly causes laughter.
- Keep things in perspective – Remember to let the egos go, we really can’t control most things, especially other people’s behavior.
- Pay attention to children and model them, they are experts at playing and enjoying the simple things in life.
“To make mistakes is human;
to stumble is commonplace;
to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.”
William Arthur Ward
I had gotten it all wrong. Maturity is not being serious and all grown up, its being able to laugh at yourself.
Playing with problems comes naturally to children. Climb a tree. Get an elevated view of the situation. When you use humor to take you to a higher place, you can view the situation with a more relaxed, positive, creative and lightened perspective
Is this really worth getting upset over?
Is this worth getting others upset?
Is it really that important, in the BIG PICTURE OF LIFE?
LAUGH to LIVE and LIVE to LAUGH