Finding the Freedom to Laugh at Life

When my friend told me my life was material for a 4-star sitcom, I couldn’t decide whether that was flattering or insulting.

“I would watch that show,” he said emphatically. “It sure would be better than some of the stuff out there.”

On the upside, that meant my life’s recent events were interesting. On the downside, it meant they were also somewhat melodramatic—unfortunately something I had no control over at the time.

Can you relate?

Some people go through life actively creating drama wherever they turn. Others wish something dramatic would happen to them. Others try to avoid the drama. And still others sit back and laugh.

While I won’t get into the details of the scenario to which my friend referred, suffice to say it had caused quite the social upset among some people close to me. It made me realize that the reason some sitcoms thrive isn’t because they’re far-fetched, but because they could happen to any of us—even those of us who try to eschew life drama with every fiber of our being.

What I learned was that, while I love a good televised or written drama, those types of events are actually quite painful in reality. We might empathize with the characters in the story, but at the end of the day, it is still entertainment. We are still being entertained by their fictitious tragedies and triumphs. So what happens when we are suddenly the characters in a live soap opera? Does the scenario lose its charm?

Usually. That is, for most of us.

The intrigue of two real-life colleagues trying to one-up each other becomes too stressful.

The drama of a real-life family dividing against itself becomes too painful.

The tension of a real-life love triangle becomes too agonizing.

The repeated rejection of the real-life underdog becomes too disheartening.

All of these elements work their way into film, and yet they are no fun to live out in real life. It’s because they involve real people with real decisions and feelings, whose lives only get one draft—no rewrites if the script goes awry.

That being said, I think there are times when we would benefit from taking ourselves a little less seriously.

There are some moments I remember having during the aforementioned life saga which, although excruciating at the time, I can look back now with a laugh. Conversations that literally sounded like a script. Moments when I knew that the imaginary audience of my life was gasping in shock, pity, or chagrin. Moments when I knew the same imaginary audience was rolling in the aisles with laughter at the irony of my predicaments. While it didn’t make any of those moments easier, the days, weeks, months, and years that followed gave me a clearer perspective (as time usually does) on what had actually happened and how significant or insignificant those events really were.

In short, time gave me the “viewer’s perspective.”

Much of what happened would have been laughable if it didn’t happen to me.

Now, I’m not talking about truly traumatic events or life-and-death situations. Those are not laughable, no matter whom they happen to. I’m talking about the dramatic episodes we sometimes find ourselves in, which seem like the most monumental crises at the time, but which pass and leave us wiser in the end. I’m talking about the stuff of, well, sitcoms.

Every one of us has memories that we would prefer to forget because they were either too stressful, embarrassing, awkward, or bewildering.

It’s all just part of being human. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we won’t forget—and sometimes, if we do forget, we are missing out on prime comedic material. Part of healing can mean learning to take something less seriously—learning to recognize it as absurd or ironic and, instead of languishing over it, laugh at it. If we can separate ourselves from the emotions of the situation enough to look at it from the viewer’s perspective, we might just be able to appreciate some of the humor woven into our tumultuous little narratives.

Maybe it’s a part of maturing. Or maybe it’s just called making the most of a real-life melodrama.

What’s your take?

No need to share embarrassing stories (although they are definitely welcome)… but what are some ways you’ve coped with the drama of life?

Are you the type of person who creates the drama? (Which raises the question of whether drama queens ever know they are drama queens…)

Are you the type to flee drama and dramatic people? Are you an unwilling victim of drama?

Or are you perhaps the invisible audience laughing at everyone else’s drama???

2 Comments on “Finding the Freedom to Laugh at Life

  1. What a unique way to look at things. While I enjoy reading and watching drama, I cannot stand it in my personal life. I try to steer a far away as possible because it wakes up the angry side of me, which I prefer to keep asleep.

    There definitely could be moments of my life that people would laugh at, but not too many. I always think people consider my life boring but that is just my projection. People whose lives are filled with drama tend to gravitate toward me. Together, we achieve equilibrium.

    How do I cope with drama? 1. I try to stay away from it. It drains me too much. 2. I try to look at the problem rationally (emotions aside) and solve it. Then, I deal with emotions real quick and then leave it behind.

    I think everyone creates some sort of problem that another person can label as drama. However, I don’t think anyone in my life would label me in that way. I’ve met people who are aware and those who are not.

    It’s easy but not to make me laugh. Other people’s drama usually makes me pity them, empathize with them, cringe, etc.

  2. I love your take on this. Sometimes it really seems the world would be a much calmer, less stressful place if there were more rationalists in the world! Here’s my disclaimer, though: I am naturally wired more emotionally, but have worked hard over the years to control those impulsive responses that generally lead to drama. As with a lot of things in life, it’s a balancing act, and I’d have to agree that most problems are better solved when we don’t let our emotions cloud our thinking too much.

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