A mother pulled out a picture to show her 3-year-old daughter. It was a picture of the mother way back when she was 7 years old. “Do you know who this is?” she asked. The daughter gasped, “That’s me when I’m bigger!”
Kids. They add humor to our homes, joy to our lives, and Crayon colors to our walls. When my daughter said, “Daddy, you were born back when everything was invented,” I learned one of the great secrets to developing a healthy sense of humor: Laugh at yourself and you’re never short of material.
Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts and the loveable Charlie Brown said, “If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself.”
In elementary school, I rolled up little bits of paper and shot them through a straw all over the ceiling straight above my desk. They stuck there. In the afternoon about a hundred spitwads fell one by one onto my desk and all around me. My teacher, asked if I knew who had been shooting spitwads. I started to laugh. He joined me. And invited me to stay after class and clean them up.
While speaking, I fell off a stage. I couldn’t stop laughing. The audience was so relieved. I limped around awhile, just to worry them, but they sure paid attention after that.
On another occasion I smacked an open water bottle, spilling it on a number of women in the front row. What would you do? I said, “Woops. My water broke.”
Laughing at our shortcomings and accepting ourselves, warts and all, can bring peace, contentment, and ample opportunity to laugh. Studies show that laughing at ourselves can boost relationships, reframe challenges, cultivate creative thinking, and combat stress.
My lawyer friend Gary tells lawyer jokes. I love him for it. He says, “Old lawyers never die, they just lose their appeal.” Laughing at myself is my way of saying, “I’m not okay and that’s okay. God loves me just as I am right now.”
One element of successful aging comes in learning to laugh at ourselves. As did the mother whose son said to her, “Hey mom. I’m watching you make my sandwich so that when you die I will know how to do it.”
Want to read more from Phil?
When my daughter was 15, she hung a Bible verse on her bedroom door. Psalm 56:1: “Have mercy on me…
When I was two, I realized I could make people laugh by walking around with my soother stuck in my…