“But learn from the earliest days to inure your principles against the perils of ridicule: you can no more exercise your reason, if you live in constant dread of laughter, than you can enjoy your life, if you are in the constant terror of death.” ~ Sydney Smith, Wit and Wisdom of the Rev. Sydney Smith …
Sydney brings up a very good point: if I am not comfortable living in constant fear of death, then why should I be ok with living my life in fear of how others perceive me. In both instances, we lose the ability to be in control of our lives–to exercise reason and sound judgment to live our lives in an authentic and purposeful way. If we are sensitive to what others think of what we say or do, we have made a conscious choice to be so. This leads us to neglect our duties of building up a resistance to the ridicule and laughter of others and it subjects us to their whims. This can–and will–prevent us from acting in ways that we know or believe we should, and even keep us from acting in ways that align with who we truly are.
Some of the most successful and greatest artists, innovators, creators, and intellectuals, have been those individuals who were not afraid to step outside the confines of their chosen fields and risk the ridicule, laughter, and insults of others–even their loved ones and peers. They trusted their hearts–their own vision and reason of what constitutes living a life of principle.
The fear of ridicule is a disease to our souls; it robs so much of our potential. However, just as we can develop an immunity to some diseases by receiving inoculations or from some poisons by continually taking small doses of the poison, we have the ability to inure ourselves against the ridicule of others so that their perceptions no longer affect us.
Season your principles against the scorn and laughter of others–your happiness, purpose, and authenticity is at stake.
Questions to consider:
What does it mean to be “in constant dread of laughter?” Why do many people have this dread?
Why do we often worry so much about what others think?
How might you build up an immunity to the negative reactions of others to your words, thoughts, or actions?
For further thought:
“Ridicule is generally made use of to laugh men out of virtue and good sense, by attacking everything praiseworthy in human life.” ~ Joseph Addison