Learning to Laugh Through Life

I have been blessed to have family members who have known how to make the most out of life. I am grateful for those who have taught me how to laugh at myself and many of the things that happen each day. It is good to know how to laugh at yourself and your mistakes. We all make them. Instead of getting upset, we can laugh it off.

Two stories come to my mind when I think of those who taught me this lesson. First, my great-aunt was a complete crack-up! She had so much fun that it almost felt wrong. She knew how to laugh and enjoy her life. This story illustrates how well she made this happen. Aunt Frannie went to the hairdresser almost every week. It was important to her. So in her usual routine, she had her hair perfectly dressed and headed out for her day.

She decided to stop at the carwash. She pulled up to the console and entered the payment information. Then she pulled into the carwash. She had failed to roll up the window, and as soon as her car hit the right spot, the water started to spray. It came so fast that she could only panic. With a full spray of soapy water coming at her, she tried and tried to get the window closed. Screaming and flustered, she could not make it happen.

What else could she do but laugh? And get her hair fixed. I think she hoped for a half-off sale that day!

At the end of the wash, she looked at herself in the mirror. On her right, her hair was perfectly coifed, just as she loved it. On the left, her hair was matted, dripping, and soapy. That side looked awful. So she decided to go back to the hairdresser. Aunt Frannie tried to sneak in and quietly approach the front desk. Just like in the movies, as she approached, she was noticed, and in a shockingly loud voice, the attendant said, “Frannie! What happened to you?” Motioning for him to come closer, and whispering so as not to draw any more attention to herself, she whispered, “I just went through the carwash with my window down.” Shocked, he shouted, “YOU WENT THROUGH THE CARWASH WITH THE WINDOW DOWN?!” Now, everyone was looking. Here she was looking like a half-abused Cruella De Vil with everyone staring at her. What else could she do but laugh? And get her hair fixed. I think she hoped for a half-off sale that day!

The second story is from my grandmother. Grandma loved the shopping catalogs that arrived in the mail. Most of us consider these catalogs full of junk, but she loved them and spent a ton of money on these things. (I am so grateful she lived before shopping channels!) Once she saw an ad for a rearview mirror for the car that boasted “Now a mirror where you can really see everything!” So she ordered it. It was about three feet long and had all kinds of little mirrors on it. She was excited about it and went to place it in her car. She removed the old mirror and used the included double-stick tape to put up the mirror.

For some time, Grandma used the mirror and bragged about it. She loved her see-all mirror! Then one very hot summer day, the mirror fell of the windshield and onto the front seat. You guessed it; the mirror was sticky-side up. She sat on the mirror and did not realize it. So she went on her way, not noticing the mirror’s absence. She arrived at the store and went in to do her shopping. While bending over, she felt a tap on her shoulder. A very nervous woman stuttered to her while pointing at Grandma’s backside, “Excuse me, ma’am, but you have…um…ah…um….” Without missing a beat, Grandma reached back, yanked the mirror off her bottom, and stated assertively, “That is my rear-view mirror!” Then she quickly moved on!

My family and I have laughed about these two stories (and more) over the years. They have become our examples of how to handle the frustrating experiences of life. We have tried to follow Grandma and Aunt Frannie’s examples and laugh at ourselves, laugh at the funny things that happen, and find joy in the unfortunate and wacky stuff that happens so often.

When I dropped a whole container of salsa on the floor and it splattered all over the ceiling, my head, my shirt, and my tie, I looked at the terrified faces of my kids as they feared an angry dad. In that moment, I remembered what my grandmother and aunt had done and followed their lead. What came next was a funny experience and another family story to teach this example. I asked, “Does anyone have a chip?”

So learn to laugh at yourself. Find ways to laugh about life. Add more fun to each of your days by laughing about all the crazy things that happen. Heck, you can even laugh at the boring, monotonous, and awkward things that happen. Then, don’t stop there. Tell someone else! Don’t just whisper it! Tell someone else what happened. Let them laugh at you and with you. Spread the funny stories and spread the laughter. It makes this life so much better when we do.


Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R Jacobs is a brave creator who strives to do mighty things! Jim is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator helping others to live more brave and authentic lives! He is the author of Driving Lessons For Life: Thoughts on Navigating Your Road to Personal Growth. Jim speaks professionally, and coaches others to success and living with integrity. He is a counselor, educator, innovator, father, and friend. Please check out Jim R. Jacobs and Driving Lessons For Life and find Jim on social media! Let's connect and dare mighty things!

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  1. Loved your stories, Jim, thanks for the laughs.

    It seems that you may have been living in a house we inhabited for a short while – or you are not the only person to have read sticky stuff splashed all over the kitchen. Naturally, we made up many stories – one more wacko than the next – for what this red stuff was that we washed away. As we never found a body it was probably tomato sauce.

    • Thanks Charlotte! Fun memories! I love the idea of made up stories for the stains on the walls! What can I tell people about the chocolate shake stain on the living room wall? I love it!

  2. Self-irony, that is, laughing at yourself with intelligence, learning to develop this faculty of the mind can prove to be a precious resource for being able to live better, thus giving the right weight to things.
    Developing a bit of self-irony helps to put the right distance from the things that happen to us and to develop a benevolent tolerance towards ourselves.
    Self-irony allows us to downsize the defects or failures that we attribute to ourselves, grasping the paradoxical sides of the most unpleasant situations and diluting – through laughter – the shame or embarrassment that can derive from them. it is therefore necessary to exercise the ability to observe oneself by assuming the perspective of a hypothetical external observer, grasping the paradoxical aspects of our behavior with humor.