“Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Weep and you weep alone.
For this stolid old world has need of your mirth,
but has troubles enough of its own.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox
As the end of the year approaches I ask myself what one gift I could give to each of you. What is the one thing that if I could share would bring you more joy and peace and change the world? I hear a noble whisper from deep inside myself: “Ask them to love themselves.” And as I begin to look for the words that will inspire and uplift you another voice (yes, there are several) more impish than the first says: “Tell them to laugh at themselves.”
I must admit I’m as startled as you. This doesn’t seem at all a proper holiday message or the proper way to end the year!
Yet the more I think about it the more it delights me. I think of us running to the store at midnight because little Sarah has more gifts than little Shane, I think of the sacrifices we make slaving over a hot stove making “home made” rather than “store bought.” The angst we have over buying the “right” gift. I think of the wrapping, the decorating, the cards, the company, the parties that we do all with the thought that we are being good and noble, kind and considerate. (Admit it, you still do some of it). I think of how we paste on a smile or a marytr face because of what we “have” to do. And I find us hysterically funny.
What I find most funny is that regardless what I say about taking care of yourself (which you already know), regardless what you know about not enjoying certain things – you’re going to do all of the above anyway. Oh, I know there are parts you love (you don’t have to write and tell me about them), I know there are things you used to do that you didn’t enjoy and stopped. But I also know that there are parts that annoy you, parts that exhaust you, parts that you’d rather not do.
So this year, as a gift to yourself I’d ask you this: “When you get to the breaking point, when you see yourself as the great martyr, when you’ve pasted that smile on your face one last time…stop. Ask yourself why? What for? Really look at if what you are doing makes anyone else happy (really happy, not pacified for the moment), look at if they even notice – and then laugh. Laugh even if you go in and do it all any way.
If you’ve grown beyond doing all of this I’m sure you can find some place and time during the holidays when you have the urge to beat yourself up. This is the point where I’d love you to stop and say why? Then laugh. Laughter is a way of acceptance, accepting that we’re not perfect, we don’t do it all right, we still haven’t figured it out, and yet – we’re just fine.
Laugh at what funny people we are doing what we don’t have to do, to make people happy and it doesn’t, to look noble when we don’t. And if you can find it in you to laugh at yourself you will find joy and peace in all the chaos and your joy and peace will change the world.