I believe one of the greatest indicators of a person’s grip on reality is their ability to laugh at themselves. It shows you can view yourself as both imperfect and flawed, and that you have courage to find the humor in your flawed ways. It takes courage to admit you are wrong, but to laugh about that wrongness takes a special talent.
I know a lot of people that are uptight about their positions on almost any issue. They judge all their interactions with people as zero-sum affairs. In order for them to feel justified, somebody else must lose. This is both a myopic view of life as well as a handicap. How can you ever learn something new if you are right in every opinion and in every interaction? No, sometimes it is better to listen and find out where you are wrong, and then change.
I do not advocate being wishy-washy or weak, but on the contrary, listening to others deeply enough to figure out their position and why they believe that way rather than instinctively looking for counter points takes a certain amount of courage and inner strength. Courage to face the reality that maybe, just maybe, your most cherished beliefs may need fine tuning or perhaps even discarding. Of course listening deeply does not require you to discard a belief, for the person may not have a good argument, and they may be confused and emotional in their position. Nevertheless, you will have gained a friend and somebody who trusts you for your listening skills.
Ever had a moment when somebody “got your goat” with a point that cut to the heart of your opinion and really hurt? We all have. How did you react? Did you get angry and say something hurtful, or did you take a moment, laugh at the folly of the situation? A quick grin, with a twinkle in the eye saying – ‘Aha, you got me’, with a chuckle can diffuse any situation. Chances are it will soften the other person’s position too, because it is the rare sociopath that will see such an admission with a tinge of humor as an opportunity to go in for the kill, just to win a point.
I know that I am swimming against the tide in today’s hyper-competitive society where there is a tendency to always want to be right. Letting somebody have even an ounce of correctness is seen as a sell-out or a flip flopper. Too many political people see their party as a team and care more about their team winning, than from forming good policy or meeting the needs of the largest group possible. Instead they pursue scorched-earth policies where conceding on even a small issue is seen as a loss.
Everybody’s life experience has something of value. Sure, some have processed those experiences better than others, gaining true wisdom, but others have been so selective in their reading of the facts that they only choose those things that confirm their already held beliefs and refuse to accept any other interpretation. These types of people are so afraid of reality, that they create their own, and rarely have enough of a sense of humor to laugh at themselves.
But… I could be wrong. Ha! (He says grinning ear to ear, yea even laughing at himself as he steps down off of the soapbox)