Don’t Take Life So Seriously

old man at the beach

Elbert Hubbarb | Don’t take life so seriously. It’s not like you’re going to get out alive.

If I was to choose a quote that summed me up, this would be it. Don’t take life so seriously!

Okay, so we’re grown-ups. Life is hard. It’s not often fun. There are some really serious bits that you are not allowed (under any circumstances) to laugh at or be jovial about in any way. It just isn’t ‘done’ (whatever that means.) Do you ever see anyone laugh at a funeral? Never – and this is one reason I dread them.  But why should this be the case? When someone passes away, what we are really doing is celebrating their life.  We share anecdotes and a little about their life and loves. But we are expected to be sombre, be grim and, above all, not to smile. It is the latter I find most difficult.

I am one of those (annoying?) people who wanders through life with a laugh and a joke.

I can just about see the funny side to most events without losing taste or being insensitive (I hope!) This isn’t because I am obsessed with ‘the funny.’  I am not some comedian-in-waiting.  I just think that being able to see the flip side is a natural state for me: I do it automatically almost without thinking. At times, I guess to some people ( i.e. those who don’t know me) it can seem a little callous but it can be a real stress reliever and tension diffuser. It isn’t just me (thank goodness – that must mean I’m normal, right?) Those working in highly stressful environments use humour for these very reasons. One relative at hospital recounts the following story which I think is typical of the medical profession:

My husband went to the cardiologist after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. “I had taken our cat to the vet,” he told the nurse, “and while I was there, my chest got tight, and I had trouble breathing. Later, my left arm began aching.”

The nurse was clearly concerned. “So,” she asked, “how was the cat?” ***


I have also been on the receiving end of a doctor’s acerbic wit. When being examined during a routine ante-natal appointment close to my confinement with my second child, the doctor noticed I was having contractions.  To his bewilderment I wasn’t feeling a thing.  He pointed to my abdomen which did indeed, at intervals, have ripples running across the surface.

“Maybe you will have one of those painless labours,” h
e remarked.

“There is such a thing?”  I questioned, getting really excited that I was going to give birth without the need for any medication and in relative peace. (Perhaps reading a novel at the same time as having a manicure, I optimistically visualised.)

“No,” was his curt reply (his face remaining perfectly straight.)

I couldn’t help but laugh at this despite my anxiety that I was apparently in labour without actually knowing it (and all the organisational chaos that goes with it.)

Facing trauma everyday forces you to see life differently.

You can take two paths, as far as I can see. One is to see the ‘awfulness’ of it all; to pity the ‘victims’ and ponder on the meaning of life on a regular (and highly upsetting) basis. The second is to still recognise the awfulness and tragedy but to reflect on it differently. A fantastic example of the latter in action was the highly popular TV programme M*A*S*H whose characters turned to humour to keep themselves sane. To a much lesser extent, glimpses of this ‘macabre’ humour are seen in the unlikeliest of places.  I am reminded of my beloved grandparents who would get into arguments on the most unusual of topics. One recurring difference of opinion was on the subject of who would die first.

“It’ll be me to go first…….”  
My grandfather would say with a laugh in his voice.

“No, no it will definitely be me,” my grandmother would retort, adamant that she was right and he was wrong.

When the inevitable did happen, I couldn’t help remembering these spats and I caught myself at my grandfather’s funeral smiling stupidly to myself surrounded by a sea of grim faces. If only they knew why.

***Source: Reader’s Digest


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Authored by Clare Bailey

selfie“A mother of 3 teens, I have professional experience of working with young children and, as a result, have become a parent blogger. Prior to this, I wrote a column in a national publication for two years sharing my experiences of working in the childcare sector. I currently write about anything that comes my way: life, loves and modern living.”

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