Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 15, 2016

Stop taking yourself so seriously and live a little

        It is healthy to believe that you have value as a person, that you are important to several, perhaps many people. You make a difference in significant ways. Having confidence in your worth as a human being is a good thing.

It is, however, unhealthy to value yourself too highly, to suppose that you are the most important person on the block. The secret is to not take yourself too seriously which tends to make you uptight and miserable.

Now and then I run into people who talk incessantly, as though everybody is dying to hear what they have to say. These talkers seem full of themselves. And they hate silence so they fill the air with words, their words.  

        I listen as patiently as possible while wishing Scottie would beam me up to another planet. I resist the temptation to jump into the conversation with some good advice – relax and live a little; you are not the center of the universe. Stop taking yourself so seriously and have fun listening to someone else talk awhile.      

It helps to remember that the world does not revolve around me. That does not diminish me in any way. I am still a person of worth. I am even unique; there is no one else quite like me.

        That thought is worth a good laugh. My friends are surely thankful there is no one else like me. They would hate to have to put up with two of me.  

        A healthy sense of humor helps you to laugh at yourself when you make silly mistakes. Without such a disposition you can never enjoy other people or be fun to live with. Nobody enjoys being around straitlaced people who are unable to laugh at themselves.  

The humorless life is one of misery filled with tension, friction, anxiety and restlessness. Those who live with such people are thirsty for laughter. They are always looking for an oasis – a caring, smiling person genuinely interested in other people.

        Once we throw away visions of grandeur about ourselves, we can enjoy being an ordinary person who is both flawed and gifted. We don’t have to be the smartest person in the universe. We can just be glad we are smarter than a rock and enjoy this brief life before time runs out.

        When you do something dumb, you can laugh at yourself instead of beating yourself up. You can be thankful for the brains you do have. There is a good chance you have not worn them out yet. So you can use what you have instead of wishing you had more.

        A great way to get a good laugh is to take a look in the mirror. Notice how much a smile does for your face. Instead of fretting that you are not more beautiful or handsome, just be thankful you don’t look any worse. Enjoy the way you look. After all, what you see is all you’ve got so you might as well enjoy it.

        One of my great challenges is to resist getting uptight about uptight people. I try to remember that I am not in charge of the behavior of other people; I have a full-time job trying to control my own. It is best to respond with laughter than anger when someone else makes a stupid mistake. Laughing with others can reduce the tension in the air and it is good therapy for the soul. And when it comes to laughing, we ought not be content with a giggle and a smile. It is good for the soul to throw your head back and enjoy a belly laugh now and then.

        I love the story of the origin of “Rule 63.” In the early days of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Bill and Bob met with a hundred recovering alcoholics to develop a charter for the organization.

Eagerly, almost addictively, the group formulated rule after rule until they had 62 rules and regulations. Suddenly they realized what they had done. Their compulsiveness and addictiveness had run rampant. So, with good humor amid healthy laughter, they created Rule 63: "We will not take ourselves too seriously."

They scrapped the other rules and began the movement without the excess baggage of many rules. The great success of AA teaches us how helpful “Rule 63” can be in all our lives. If you are "the Boss" where you work, Rule 63 will help you become a better leader. People will enjoy you more. If, however, you constantly have to remind everyone that you are "the Boss," you are simply taking yourself too seriously.

The strings on a guitar or violin must be tightened in order to play well, but they will break if they remain tight all the time. The lesson of the strings – relax, loosen up, laugh a little and enjoy being alive. 

True freedom is the great reward for not taking yourself too seriously. Hard work must be mixed with humor or it becomes drudgery. When the balance is right, life is rich and enjoyable. At the end of the day the losers are those who took themselves too seriously. The winners are those who were fun to be with.  + + +