Camille Goldman
Op ed

Essays: Laughter

The ability to laugh at one’s self is a marvelously, valuable tool that we can used to extricate ourselves from potentially embarrassing situations. We all have them. They can be anything from a stumble or fall to wardrobe malfunction. Whatever that embarrassing moment may consist of, we can be sure, that self-directed laughter can smooth out the situation and even change the body’s normal stress responses.

Take for example, a college student attending her first day of Spanish class. She walks into the classroom already feeling conspicuous in her shinny yellow pants. She chooses a chair and as she is sitting down, the chair rolls and she ends up on the floor. Does this qualify as an embarrassing moment? It certainly does. It is also very humorous. How could she expect the other students not to laugh? So, what does this student do? She is the first one to start laughing! She laughs hard and the other students laugh right along with her.

One Sunday during the worship service of a particular church in Chicago, the choir director had a wardrobe malfunction while she was in the middle of directing the choir. As she exuberantly gesticulated, her half-slip fell down around her ankles. Like any truly great show-person, she stepped aside, kicked the slip out of her way, and carried right on to the end of the musical number. Indeed, the situation was humorous in the extreme, but so was the degree of embarrassment. She deserved admiration for carrying on as if nothing had happened, however, had she taken the time to laugh at herself and encouraging the audience to laugh with her instead of at her, she might have spared herself the persisting embarrassment she continued to feel years after, every time someone happened to mention the incident.

We have a tendency to either berate ourselves or skulking away in shame when something embarrassing happens to us. For example, if we fall, we call ourselves stupid or clumsy.
What we do not understand is that there are those who may of themselves be embarrassed for us when witnessing our embarrassing moments. By laughing at ourselves, we can let them know that it is all right for them to laugh as well.

In the event that the embarrassing moment has resulted in injury, we can rest assured that most onlookers will probably feel enough sympathy to lack the desire to laugh, therefore, the feeling of embarrassment, in such a case, is superfluous. later on, once the injury has healed, it may help to see the incident in a humorous light.

The next time you find yourself in an embarrassing situation, whether it be missing the chair and falling on your bottom, to various wardrobe malfunctions, try laughing at yourself. Get others to laugh with you, then go on your way feeling really, really good about yourself.

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