My Grandpa’s Secret

My grandpa died in January of natural causes. He was 102… ONE HUNDRED AND TWO. Isn’t that amazing? I think he had a secret to his longevity.

My grandpa always told me something I thought was very special which I often remind myself of:

If you can’t clown around in the world, you will never get around

You see, my grandpa had this way about him—a unique ability to sprinkle a little laughter into every day. He chose to live this way for his entire life and look how long he lived!

You Can Choose Laughter

The way I see it, you have two options in life.

You could take everything personally, focus on the negative, feel down and discouraged or you could adopt some of my grandpa’s positivity and choose to clown around. Imagine what would happen if you added humour to your days? What if you played? Wouldn’t that be fun? That’s my grandpa’s secret. He chose laughter.

I know it’s not always easy…

“But Sara, what if certain things just feel hard?” I hear you.

The truth is … it’s sometimes hard for all of us. My grandpa’s life wasn’t all fun and games. He struggled at times and in more ways than most—I bet it wasn’t easy for him to find humour every day. He was blind by the time he was a teenager and when the other kids learned how to drive, he longed for the day that never came. I saw his struggle first hand when he’d whisper in my ear his simple wish for sight.

When my grandpa was growing up, if you were blind, you were sent to boarding school. It could have felt terrible for him to live away from his friends and family, but he found a loved one there… my grandma. She was also blind.

He tuned pianos for a living because what he lacked in sight he made up for in sound and together, they raised three children with bells on their shoes—a little trick to keep track of their footsteps around the house. Isn’t that fun?!

I think the moral of this story is that with humour, you build resilience. Of course, there will be difficult times, but it’s important to always search for joy, silver linings, and silliness in times that feel hard. I think laughter is healing and humour goes a long way to helping you move through challenging circumstances and tough emotions.

How to add humour to your day

My fondest memories of my grandpa are filled with laughter. Joking together! I want to thank him a thousand times over for his wise words, but all I can do is share them with you.

It’s a childlike quality that we can carry into adulthood. I think of my son sometimes when I need a reminder. When our babies are born, we do everything we can to make them laugh. Now, he laughs at the oddest jokes that he thinks are really funny. It makes me happy to see him so happy and we snowball from there. Don’t you think that’s proof enough of the positive impact humour has on our wellbeing? I sure do!

Here’s a few ways to find your ‘inner clown’ even if you think it’s silly:

  1. Make funny faces in the mirror – sounds weird but it works.
  2. Sing really loud using a funny voice.
  3. Watch a funny movie and laugh until your face feels like it’s cracking.
  4. Dance like no one is watching.
  5. Play dress up with your kids or friends.

Laughing/humour will give you the space to cope with a situation with a more relaxed view and help give you a different perspective so you can bounce back to move forward with more ease.

Until next time…


Sara Westbrook
Sara Westbrook
Hi, I'm Sara Westbrook, professional speaker, author, and creator of 3E Emotional Development. I have spent the last 15 years researching and presenting on the subject of emotions and the impact they have on choices and well-being. I have had the pleasure of presenting my energetic, interactive, and meaningful presentations/workshops to over 500,000 people, and have been on many Canadian media outlets including Global, CTV, and Sirius XM. I am the author of The UPower Journal 2.0 – an interactive journal designed to build resilience and boost confidence in youth. Here’s some behind the scenes about me… Before I was a full-time speaker I was an award-winning singer/songwriter. When I’m not presenting or writing, I can be found in my kitchen whipping up yummy, healthy treats for my husband George and son Kai. At the end of a long day, I love relaxing with George, talking about our day.

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  1. Sara,
    Welcome to BC360! I love this story. It reminds me of my grandpa, who passed away many years ago. I think I was 13 at the time. He too was blind but never lacked for a sense of humor. I believe it is what helped him through his challenges and it was passed down to the rest of us. I always say laughter should be a part of every day. It is what sees me through for sure!

    • Hi Frank, I am loving being part of 360. My Dad, who died in 2003, had an incredible sense of humour – even when he knew he was dying. For the last 6 weeks of his life we all had sore faces from the things he said & did to take our minds off of his impending death.

  2. Thank you Sara and very welcome to Bizcatalyst, with so many more inspiring people like yourself!
    And sorry for your precious loss Sara. What a great respectful age to be very proud of!
    Your grandpa really understood the secret of life beyond physical limitations and challenges.
    With his humor he turned it into his strength, accepting what is and making the best of it every day.

    Humor is a very powerful way to face challenges of life. He responded to life with the choice to take his power back, what a great mindset for such a young age, commendable. More beautiful to see his legacy today in your work inspired by your granddad, just wonderful.

    Thank you, Sara.

  3. Oh my, Sara, you sent me right down memory lane to my father emulating Monte Python and the Ministry for Silly Walks when we took an evening trip around the block. Or wanting to take an ocean dip before dinner but it was raining a little so he took the garden parasol to keep his towel dry on the beech.
    Never one to confuse seriousness with solemnity.

    Welcome to BC360.

    • My Dad & I loved watching Monty Python together. Both of us would laugh so hard as we tried to recreate what we had seen. My Dad died in 2003 so I imagine he & his Dad (my grandpa) are causing quite a stir in heaven 🙂

  4. Just love it Sara. Such openly positive advice. Dancing while nobody can see you! And I can relate to singing as loud as possible. My neighbors sometimes hear me singing Bob Dylan’s Mr, Tambourine Man!! Or perhaps Dylan’s ‘Everybody must get Stoned’!!
    Welcome, Sara.

  5. Thank you, Sara.

    H. L. Mencken said that Puritanism is “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is happy.” Ouch –

    Especially in that part of our world we label work, laughter can be deeply suspect. when I get called in to help an organization heal, the first thing I do is walk around and pay very loose attention, but smiling as I go. People’s responses to that smile tell me more about the place than all the climate surveys and focus groups ever invented.

    John Prine: “And you can see me tonight with an illegal smile; it don’t cost very much and it lasts a long while. Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone; I’m just tryin’ to have me some fun. Well done. Hot dog bun. My sister’s a nun.”

    Still pickin’ and grinnin’

    Please drop in on the back2different podcast (including three folks from our very own Friendship Bench):

    I’d love to talk about having you do an episode – people from all over the world engaged in dialogues about pushing forward rather than pushing back.

    • Hi Mac, to start – I would love to be on your podcast. Here is my email address: [email protected]

      It’s interesting how people perceive a smile and the word Hi. I do a lot of walking and whoever I pass by I smile or say Hi. Most people respond with some sort of greeting but some ignore me – look ahead as if I am not there. They don’t realize they are missing an important part of life – connection.

  6. Sara – Thank you for this beautiful message and reminder. Many of us – me! – cart a lot of stuff around with us in our heads. I have to periodically remind myself to put it down and lighten up. Not sure about the dress with friends, but I’ll find other ways to laugh. Thanks for sharing your Grandpa with us.

    Welcome to BC360.