After speaking at a recovery convention, a fellow speaker approached me and said, “Francine how come you’re so serious? You need to lighten up! You never smile. You say you’re grateful, but you need to tell your face. You look like it’s the end of the world.”
Well I thought to myself, “Who does he think he is telling me to lighten up?” I’m light. I have a sense of humor, ha, ha. I can take a joke – sometimes.” As you can image I was just a little peeved. But you know, he was right. I never smile. I’m always serious, and my face looks tense, as if I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. What’s with that? I hide behind the fact that I am a left-brain thinker and never allow the little girl – the silly person, the humorous person that I believe I really am – to come out and play.
Since that time, I made a conscious effort to lighten up. The first time I practiced this was at a conference where I unhappily forgot what I was talking about. I got conversational with my audience, went off on a tangent, and couldn’t remember where I was. In the past when that happened, I was devastated – and you could tell. My hands got sweaty, my body tensed up, and my mouth got dry. I looked scared and I was. But on this particular day, I simply stopped for a minute, took a deep breath and blurted out, “Oh my God, I’m having a senior moment.” The crowd roared. I didn’t die, and I demonstrated that I had a sense of humor about myself. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Sense of Humor.
When we lighten up we see the world through new eyes. Problems become more manageable. And mistakes aren’t the end of our world. We learn to delight in all that God has created, and we become full of joyous expectation of the good that awaits us. Plus, we don’t age as quickly because we allow our inner child to come out and play.
What does it take to allow yourself to be silly in the moment? Well some people are natural humorists. They have the capacity to see something funny in all things, starting with themselves. For many, they have been making people laugh from the time they entered the world. Recall the kids you went to school with you who made everybody laugh. They were funny; it was natural for them. But for the rest of us, being silly or lightening up is a learned skill.
This week you have permission to get silly. Silliness is an experience of joy. If we are really feeling joyful, then it’s to our advantage to show that in all we do.