The only cure for vanity is laughter, and the only fault that is laughable is vanity. – Henri Bergson
What does that mean?
Taking this quote from the second half, the quote says the only fault which is laughable, or mockable, is vanity. In other words, it deserves to be mocked or laughed at.
Vanity is a state of extreme prideful-ness in which the achievements or appearance of or by that same person is held in high regard. It happens, but it’s a sad thing.
The first part of the quote then states that mockery or laughter is the only way to alert the person in question that their self-value or vanity is way out of line.
In this manner, peer pressure can be used to help them come back towards what is normal. Hopefully, the person can understand what happened and why, and alter their behavior. Also, one can only hope the person also can see the humor in their prior behavior.
Why is laughter important?
Well, there are tons of reasons why laughter in our lives. But this quote is about a very specific kind of laughter. Yes, it is mocking, but it need not, and should not, be cruel. There is some true humor in it as well, as the vain person is usually acting a bit silly, at least by our standards.
Consider the other tools available to help alert and get a vain person to understand their position. Would a fist-fight be very useful? How about a quiet conversation? How would the vain person respond to either of these methods? Do you believe they would be persuasive in even the slightest?
If the person is only a little vain, or only in a small portion of their lives, yes, you might be able to reach them using other methods. But that’s not the kind of person this quote is considering, at least not in my opinion. It is dealing with those who have not responded to lesser methods.
And that is where laughter comes in. Most people can tell the difference between others laughing with them, and when they are laughing at them. For nearly everyone, that is a noticeable wake-up call. It is an invitation to look at their life and see what might be out of line.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Vanity is a flavor of pride, which can also be addressed in this manner. Think about the areas in your life where you tend to be a bit cocky, brash, over confident or proud of what you look like, what you own, or what you can do. Yes, it is a bit of work, but I believe it is less painful than having others laugh at you.
Hopefully you didn’t find too much, and that most of the things you found were not very intense. I’m kind of proud of my eyesight, my problem solving ability, and my height. Fortunately, I have been humbled frequently enough, that it never got to the point of vanity.
As examples, my wife has better eyesight than I do, my son will easily be taller than I am, and I frequently ask for help with solving problems. All these things, and so many more, help to keep me in my place. And my wife wouldn’t hesitate to laugh at me if I ever got too full of myself.
To me, this is very similar to the Hans Christian Anderson’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. The vain person is, obviously, playing the part of the Emperor. It is up to us to play the part of the child who sees through (pun intended) the absurdity of the New Clothes.
Depending on the telling, after the child only says he’s got no clothes, either others take up the call, or laughter erupts from the crowd. Either way, as others realize how the vain Emperor was duped he became a comical figure, and worthy of a good laugh.
In this case, as with my understanding of the quote, the laughter has some mocking in it, as it is pointing out the silliness of the vain person. But what it isn’t is mean. It is not a vicious laughter, like you hear too often in the halls of schools.
Please take a moment and consider both where you might want to work on possible vanity issues, as well as how you might approach someone else who is having a vanity spasm. I would like to think that laughter would be the last option, after trying a few other things, short of a fist-fight.
Before you go, please remember the quote, and how it states that the only fault at which you should laugh is vanity. We all have plenty of faults, and laughter rarely helps with any of the others. Be kind.
From: Twitter, @OprahsQuotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henribergs381410.html
Photo by Conrad and Peter
For some odd reason, my ‘related articles’ app is still face down in the mud. I hope to have something that works by early next week…