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I have a wicked sense of humor.

I don’t always show it. In fact, for years I tried to tone it down, thinking my humor wasn’t “yogic” or “nice” enough – that it was a less refined (aka mean) part of my personality I should work on losing.

Although my favorite jokes are the tame “two-men-walk-into-a-bar-and-the-third-one-ducks” variety, I’m quick-witted and sarcastic and play on words whenever I hear an opportunity.

If you haven’t seen my humor come out, chances are I’m not comfortable around you yet. That’s because humor is one of the most deeply personal aspects you can share of yourself.

Sure, we use jokes to defer compliments and break tension, but true joy takes trust.

Sharing the inner workings of your mind – the connections you make, the conclusions you reach – makes you vulnerable to the reactions of others.

What if you’re judged? What if you’re shamed? What if you’re scorned? 

This is how we learn to tame our happy – you put yourself out there and see what response you get. Then you mold your natural inclinations into socially appropriate channels, or bury them all together.

This wet-blanket on fun may have started at home, school, with friends or via a significant other you wanted to impress. For me, a few key family moments and boyfriends stand out…

Luckily lately, I have an undeniable desire to feel good, and I’m giving myself permission to go for it. And that means a lot of laughing.

It means making the joke, scheduling the improv practice, not taking it personally, seeing the humor, and accepting the discomfort.

It means having the courage to show up as yourself and the confidence to know you’re safe and loved, even if you miss the mark.

It means forgiving yourself for the times you hold back and the times you boldly bumble though being your true self with the wrong audience.

Above all else, it means committing to acknowledging all of you – the mean, biting, dismissive side and the loving, caring, nurturing side.

When you commit to fully accepting yourself, you give yourself the space to know your intentions. 

If you’re like me, even your worst attempts aren’t meant to offend, hurt, or upset others – or cover up insecurity or hide from a problem. Instead you’re striving to bring more joy into your world, to play with and in life out of love.

In Hindu mythology, it’s said the cosmos were created by God as an act of divine play. Since God is perfect and complete, the only possible reason to create the world is for the sheer joy of it. Not because the world needed to exist, but because the pleasure of creating it expanded God’s joy even more.

Joy is one of the highest expressions of love. 

That’s why learning to uncover your humor and express it is an incredibly powerful practice.

Here are three steps to go about it:

  1. Love yourself. 
    Honor and cherish every facet of your quirky, bizarre, and totally inappropriate personality. I know this is a tall order, but start by forgiving, accepting, and engaging with your secret side you don’t like to share with others. We all have one, even if yours is deeply buried. (If you need help, email me; navigating this journey is what I’m good at).
  2. Love yourself so much you can’t help but want to feel joyful. 
    Feeling good – thinking good thoughts – is the ultimate expression of self-love. It’s how you know you’re on the right path and you’re making the right decisions. Moving towards love will always feel good. Plus, once you decide to love yourself, you’ll want to gift yourself feeling good all the time.
  3. Love yourself so much you can’t help but spill your joy out to others. 
    Once you feel good, you naturally help others feel good. Both because you’re more joyful and because you serve as a model for how they can feel that way too. You truly uplift the world when you uplift yourself.

And if that all sounds a little daunting at the moment,  just laugh. The power of one happy moment can change more than you imagine.