Resilience is a quality that is hard to measure in people as compared to road surfaces, paint, and other finite objects. In the assessment of a life well-lived, however, it comes up over and over in the people I interview. They say that a sense of humor is essential to navigating not only the aging process but life as we know it in 2009. Humor is an essential component of resilience and life balance.
The physiological and psychological benefits of laughter have been well-studied, as noted in the article I wrote for the International Council on Active Aging (Is Laughter Really the Best Medicine—November/December 2005). But a consistent sense of humor is less well-understood by the research community. What is known is that it requires optimism along with the ability to see through a problem with a positive perspective.
The research that has been done on humor focuses on the cognitive-response mechanism that occurs when people respond to comedy. Yet, interestingly, there is little commonality in what people find humorous.
Perhaps the analysis is unimportant, as author E.B. White contends. The real importance of a sense of humor lies in helping us survive the bumps and potholes in life’s road and coming through with the ability to face the day (and tomorrow) with a smile.
Universally, people respond more positively to those around them who manifest and display humor and a positive perspective, even in adverse situations. These resilient individuals are not “starry-eyed optimists” out of touch with the hardships and stresses of life. They are realists who are able to maintain their perspective when others experience fear or depression.
At Touchmark, there are many opportunities to share humor and optimism. Contact the Life Enrichment/Wellness team for information on how to participate in the program planning and implementation.