A Reminder to Laugh at Yourself

It was a cold and snowy Monday morning. I lazily slumped out of bed at 5:20am, my body pleading me to stay curled up just a little bit longer because 4 hours of sleep just wasn't enough. Yet, I yanked myself out of bed knowing that I hadn't finished an adequate amount of work the night before, and I had to accept that today was just going to be a long one. After getting ready with my eyes half open, I found the willpower to trudge through a dark and snowy campus to Starbucks to study for a couple hours before my 8am lecture. I told myself I’d start the day off right (with a venti coffee, of course) to put myself in a good mood for a long day of classes, work, and meetings that wouldn't end until 9pm that night.

I sat through my 8am pleased that I was awake enough to listen. I cheerfully stood up as class ended, feeling productive and ready to get to my 9am. Then, as I put on my coat, I heard the sound of liquid sloshing on the ground. I looked down, and there was my coffee, covering my pants, shoes, and my entire lecture seat, dripping down into the rows below. Everyone whipped their heads around, looking slightly amused as they shuffled out of the lecture hall to their next class.

I was obviously mortified that a class of over 70 people was staring at me, stressed that I had to clean up my mess quickly enough to make it to my next class, anxious to run up to my professor and ask her if she had paper towels, and annoyed that my planned day of perfect productivity was messed up (oh, and sad that I split my fave coffee!). As these negative emotions rushed through me, I realized I had a choice to either keep wallowing in them, or to just laugh. In that moment, I chose to laugh, and it made things so much better.

I can think of so many embarrassing moments in my life, and every time I look back at them I cringe as I re-feel the humiliation and stupidity.  But then, as I remember how small they are and starting laughing at them, the weight of negative emotions lifts off my shoulders. The silly moments you have can have the power to ruin your day only if you let them; laughing at them can be a way to take back the experience as a humbling and amusing one rather than giving it the power to make you frustrated. Sure, spilling my coffee all over myself and the lecture hall was annoying and it made me late to my next class, but shrugging it off felt good. Re-telling it with laughter made my friends laugh, too. Next time you have an embarrassing moment, I challenge you to be humble and laugh at your stupidity, then notice the difference in you how feel.