Episode 22: Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously

Good morning! This is Jimmy Williams for Live a Life by Design. Hey, this is another wonderful morning on Monday that you and I get to share a few minutes to help build a bigger, better, and bolder you as you go on to tackle this week. Today we’re going to discuss something that is far more important than it’s given credit in the human life. We’re going to talk about not taking ourselves so seriously. 

Too often we neglect this opportunity in life to “laugh at ourselves” to give ourselves a better day. I understand what you’re saying, but I’m going to give you today some techniques, some ideas, and strategies that I use to give myself the best opportunity for laughter. To even sometimes do something self deprecating that I didn’t intend on doing but I had to learn to not take myself so seriously and allow the stresses of life to ruin my day. 

I want to visit with you just briefly about the research that we now know, has been performed by scientists regarding the effects on the body and the mind of laughter. There was an article written by a gentleman named Marshall Brain. I love that name, but you know if you’re studying laughter and writing on it, that’s quite the name to have, Marshall Brain. The title of his article was “How Laughter Works”. The researchers on this article have known for a long time that the ability to laugh is helpful to those coping with major illnesses and the stress of life. More recently tho, researchers have found that evidence that laughter can even do a lot more. It can basically bring balance to all the components of the immune system which fights off diseases. Levels of certain stress hormones are reduced through laughter. By laughing, you are invoking a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight or flight compounds that swing into action. When you laugh, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase. As do Gamma-interferon, it’s a disease fighting protein. Your T-cells, which are a major part of the immune response, and B-cells which make disease destroying antibodies. 

There are a tremendous number of physical benefits to laughter. Other benefits of laughing include the side effects of hiccuping and coughing. These functions actually clear the respiratory tract by dislodging mucus plugs. Well I know that’s gonna cause you to laugh a little bit, or perhaps be a little bit of gross. But hiccuping and coughing are good for our bodies. Now that’s a real reason to laugh. If you’re not a person who exercises regularly, and I think everyone should. But if you don’t, consider attending a comedy club in your area. Researchers estimate that laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine, or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Now I’m an avid cross fitter and we utilize these two exercise machines all the time. I can tell you they leave my heart racing, I get a pretty big sweat. So if I could gain that type of benefit from merely laughing, that’s a bonus. 

You see laughing can be a total body workout. Lower blood pressure, heightened vascular blood flow, and oxygenation of the blood helps the healing process of the body. While in the physical process of laughing you’re actually working your diaphragm, abdominal muscles, respiratory system, facial muscles, leg and back muscles. I got to tell you, you get everything worked out when you’re laughing in a very very extended period of time. So this may explain why you’re exhausted after laughing for so long. 

You know one of the best reasons for laughing though, is not just the physical qualities it improve your life. But the mental ones as well. Now I understand there are inappropriate times to be laughing during a stressful event. I’m suggesting to you though, that there are plenty of times after the stressful event, when you may be alone. That a small amount of laughter could be just the cure you need to keep you from becoming too stressed or to feel as if maybe you’re getting depressed. Laughter is the source for helping you become stress free, in my opinion. 

You see just opposite effect occurs in the body when negative emotions are stored. Anger, sadness, fear, all of these create horrific impacts that cause headaches and other illnesses. I personally attribute my excellent health to looking for opportunities to laugh and enjoy comedic moments. You know I laugh a lot at myself at times. Some of the situations in which I find myself are pretty funny. You know, and I’ve got news for you, friends of mine too that are in the same area as me when these times do occur, they share in the laughter as well. But to learn to laugh at yourself requires a healthy self-esteem. If you are the type of individual that worries what others think of you, are concerned about the fragility of your image in the community, then let’s work on increasing your ability to laugh at yourself. 

For example, I recently experienced an instance in which I had to laugh at myself for my own mistake. I was undergoing a certain health procedure that all doctors wish for you to take when you’re age 50. This is a very critical procedure that will help extend your life perhaps, and it’s called a colonoscopy. You know, simply saying saying the word colonoscopy to me is pretty funny. Now that I’ve been through one, I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s even more hilarious. But I digress. Let me explain the situation that I found myself in greater detail. Upon arriving at the surgical center, I had already subjected my body to a 12 hour process that would allow me to cleanse the body of all foreign objects so this procedure could be performed. As a matter of fact, this process was so critical and so effective I found myself also controlling my coughing, sneezing, or lifting of heavy objects of my body because I didn’t want a negative outcome and I’ll leave it with that. 

After checking in, I was escorted to a preparatory room where the only safety feature of this room from the complete outside world of doctors, nurses, technicians and other patients was a white, thin curtain. That could be thrown back with a mighty swipe by one of the medical team. I was then handed a lovely pale blue, paper gown. That was also very thin, and it could be opened in the back, very easily. As a matter of fact it was made for someone of my size to avail that area of the body pretty freely. I looked at the nurse as she handed me this and I asked a simple question. “Are you seriously asking me to wear only this thing?” Without missing a beat this wonderful, professional nurse looked me right in the eye, reached around from behind her and said, “Of course not, we’re asking you to wear these as well.” As she quickly handed me some pink, fuzzy slip proof booties to wear. 

I just started laughing at the combination of the pale blue paper gown, and now the pink booties making me a 6’2”, 240 pound man that looks a little tougher than what I appeared this day while wearing this wonderful ensemble. So I gathered my wits about me as I began to change clothing and slip on this wonderful outfit that I’d been provided. Now folks, I’m not making this stuff up. This outfit is exactly what I told you, and as I was changing into this beautiful outfit, I had become preoccupied with the pick line they have placed in my arm for purposes of administering anesthesia. And this pick line was kind of tugging at the hair on my arm from the tape they had placed on it, and I wasn’t paying attention to where I had placed my body in relation to this thin white curtain that could be opened at any time. 

Well as I was bent over putting the booties on, this curtain quickly opens and the response time I had was not nearly as fast as it should have been. My wife’s face that was in front of me went pale and her mouth was open as wide, she could have eaten a banana sideways, and her eyes were as big as saucers, and I quickly turned my head without moving my body. I had that deer in the headlight situation folks. You can imagine now, pale blue gown on, open in the back, I’m facing my wife, the nurse is behind me opening this curtain, and I turn my head without turning my body. So I effectively, and may I say with great embarrassment mooned this very beautiful young nurse that was attempting to help me that day. Oh my word, I can still laugh today thinking about this. And she simply said, “Oh,” and that was the only response she gave me and I looked at her and I literally apologized that I had just mooned this young nurse. She was so quick with the wit, you could tell she had a great sense of humor. She said, “Oh, Mr. Williams, it happens all the time, and I have seen much worse”. So we all had a pretty good laugh at that point. 

Now the time has come for the procedure to initiate. This gentleman comes to get me on a gurney and wheels me back to the surgical room, and introduces me to the anesthesiologist. Now this young doctor looked about 6’10”, his hands looked the size that he could have grabbed a watermelon with one hand, palmed it and put it in his basket at the grocery store. I mean his hands were big. Well as he explained to me the process of anesthesia and what I was about to do, I thought I probably need to explain a little bit and give a little bit about myself to this gentleman, just because, you know, this is a personal procedure, and I don’t want to feel like we’re not friends. And, I use humor to sometimes take me out of stressful situations. So, I started talking with the gentleman and in walked the gastroenterologist that would performing the procedure. Another young doctor, he had to be maybe 34 or 35 years of age. Very nice young man. And I looked at the two of them, and I just simply asked them, “Are either one of you Star Trek fans?”, and the two gentlemen looked at each other, and they looked at me, and they looked back at each other and their eyebrows went down and their eyebrows went down, and they’re kinda studying and looking at me and they said “Star Trek fans?” And I said, “Yes, are either one of you Star Trek fans, the series, you know Willam Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, and you know galaxies of stars and so forth”. And he goes, “Well, we’ve heard of it but, why do you ask us if either one of us are Star Trek fans?” And I said well, the theme of the show kind of lends itself to what the activity will be for us today, all three of us in this room. He looked at me with a surprise look as the doctor said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Because gentlemen you are going to go boldly where no man has gone before”, both the doctors, myself, start laughing audibly, and it was so loud apparently that the attending nurse came walking into the room in quite a rush wondered if we were ok. 

I guess she thought maybe we had accidentally had taken a sniff of some of the nitrous oxide, if they even had any in the room. So that was the start to my procedure. And then I have to tell you, I carried this a step further. After everything was done, and everything was great. And my health is great, and I get home the next day. The doctor asked to call him the next day and let him know how I was feeling. So I called him and he asked, “How are you feeling today?” And I said, “Well, I’m just a little bit upset doc”. And he said, “Upset?” And I said, “Yeah, I’m hurting pretty good”. He said, “You’re actually hurting from the procedure yesterday?” I said, “Well, no not in the area in which you performed the procedure”, I said, “I’m kinda hurt in my feelings”. And he said, “Well, what do you mean in your feelings?” And I said, “Well after that of a personal involvement I didn’t even get flowers delivered”. He started laughing again, he said, “There’s a reason why we don’t want to see you but every ten years, Mr. Williams”. So anyway, he gave me the award for the most fun he’s ever had in doing this procedure. 

So another area of which I look for, you know, humor and try to find things that are clean and also an area in which you can locate a ton of information or videos, audios on humor is Youtube. I’m generally on everyday, go for about a five min laugh by looking at and searching for comedic videos on YouTube of some of the old syndicated shows I watched as a child. One such show was called The Carol Burnett Show. Now some of you listening may not even know who Carol Burnett is. But Carol had a weekly show, or maybe even every night, when I was a child, I can’t recall frequency. And I laughed my head off. She had two gentlemen on the show that were regulars, that could work with one another in such a way that they extracted the most comedy from the simplest of moves. Of course I’m talking about Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. 

Tim Conway, as one of his characters played an elderly person that would serve very different roles from time to time. He was a fireman at one time, he was a medical doctor in one skit. But in this particular skit that I enjoy the most, he’s acting as if he’s an assistant to a stage actor. And he’s back stage helping this actor get his wardrobe lined up for the next scene. Course the straight man in this skit is none other than Harvey Korman. And Harvey’s rushed into the room and he is in a hurry to change his clothing for the next scene. And the wardrobe manager is none other than Tim Conway as this elderly man. Tim Conway doesn’t walk to clothing area, he shuffles his feet, so he’s shuffling his feet, it takes what seemed like on TV five minutes, it was only about 10 seconds. But Harvey Korman, by his body language and his look of his face could tell you that he was very impatient with this gentlemen. Anyway, we cut to the scene and Tim Conway gets up to him, and he’s got this rotating clothing rack. So it just keeps going in circles. Kinda like what you see in a dry cleaners. You hit a button, and it rotates this clothing to you on an electronic rack. So Tim Conway’s in there and he’s operating this button, and he hangs on to the particular clothing piece he needs, and the button gets hung, and it just drags him across the floor while he’s hanging on to the clothing and it takes him off to the stage right, and on the next phrase it’s coming back this direction with the clothing, and now he’s actually hung on the clothes hanger as if he’s got his body in it and it’s carrying him across. Well, Harvey Korman just can’t contain himself at that point, he is laughing his head off. And these are the types of scenes that I find are very very very funny. 

You know people also place themselves in videos on YouTube to display and demonstrate to the rest of us that watch them, that they lack any kind of talent for the particular sport for which they have filmed themselves. I particularly enjoy any videos that feature ice skating, snow skiing, football, cheerleading, rodeo is another good one, that includes in the title to the particular video, the word ‘FAIL’. When you can type that into anything on YouTube, you know you’re in for a treat. So these videos will have you laughing so loud, your family will come running to find out if you’re ok.

Another area of comedy for me, is movies. Movies and sit-coms. You know I enjoy slapstick humor and comedy that is clean and self deprecating. One of my favorite sit -coms in today’s world is Big Bang Theory. This show, very edgy, geeky comedy is filled humor and laughter. Most of it is funny because the situations portrayed on screen are typically ones that you and I find ourselves at sometime in life, and it is just hilarious. As a matter of fact, it’s so funny with the characters and how they interact with each other, I generally have to video each episode on TV and rewind it because I get to laughing and I miss part of the joke. 

Another area that I enjoy doing things is going to a comedy clubs where they’re clean. I found myself a couple of months ago on some business trips. I had to be in Las Vegas and I happened to be there with one of my dearest friends, he’s like a brother to me and his name is Randy. Randy and I enjoy going to comedy clubs where we can laugh and have a great time and we found a such club and it was a theatre actually. And the theatre had a gentleman named Tape Face as its artist. And this gentleman had been on America’s Got Talent.  I’m not certain if he’s won it or not. But I’m telling you he is hilarious, you can see him on YouTube as well. But Tape Face, for 1 hour and 15 minute show, spoke not one word to this audience. This was a very large audience. But his use of mime techniques, his use of props and the interaction of his audience in his performance had me laughing so hard when I left there I had to dry my eyes from laughing that I had gone to tears. My sides were sore, my abdominal muscles were sore, I mean I literally had the best time. Now the reason I had such a good time is, I was one of his supposed victims, excuse me I mean volunteers, in one of his particular skits. This was the most fun thing I guess I’ve done in a long time. 

But look for places where you can interject yourself into the comedic action and I assure you you’re having a great time before you now it. You know, my challenge to you this week is very simple. Just go find a means to laugh at yourself. Allow yourself esteem to grow and know that not everyone is laughing at you, that many of us are laughing with you. You know I’ve never laughed where someone was seriously hurt because of an accident. That’s not the point of laughter of which I’m referring. What I’m talking about is that laughter where the gentleman or lady can fall down and get right back up and keep going. You know it’s one of those things where you, you laugh just because it was really funny and no one was hurt. Nothing profane occurred, it was just a funny bodily action or something that occurred. You know, the challenge this week, as I said, is to go laugh at yourself. Find something comedic and enjoy a hearty laugh at least once per day. Do me another favor, take one to two minutes is all it will take, and scroll down below to our comment section form. Take a moment and put in there what caused you to laugh this week, so maybe all the rest of our listeners can have a fun laugh as well. 

You know, it’s a simple thing to just laugh. And you’ll find yourself not only feeling better from a physical standpoint, but an emotional, mental, even spiritual standpoint. You know, our Bible even tells us that laughter is good for the soul. At the end of the day it’s a good thing for your body to destress in anyway possible. Exercise, as we said, is a great way to do that. But laughter can also help you find a place of rest. I assure you, that if you will find a means of laughing sometime during your day, then you will be less stressful. Your life will fill more rewarding, and I’ll even go on the limb to say you will sleep better at night. So do me a favor. Laugh this week, enjoy yourself and let us know what caused you to laugh by placing a comment on our website. You know, I really appreciate everyone listening to this podcast. So join us next week when we initiate a four-part series on “Realizing Greatness Within You”. You won’t want to miss this series. You’re gonna pick up some ideas and strategies that are going to take your life to the next level. There may be some things that you’ve been inadvertently doing, maybe even subconsciously doing that is holding you back from a bigger future. We’re gonna show you how to do that next week by some of the information we provide.  

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