Sense of Humor
(Or: Laugh Yourself to Health)
By Patrick M. Kennedy
You remember how it goes: Ha Ha Ha! Or Ho Ho Ho! Or Hee Hee at something said or done, and even snicker, snicker, sort. That was laughing.
Everyone has a sense humor, do you? Or have you lost it? Many seniors are told that they have lost it someplace along the way. But you say; anyhow, I’m the life of the party ... even when it lasts ‘till a late 8. Or, I’m smiling all the time because I can’t hear a word you’re saying. Sure, you can hear most of the time, feel the pain, see most everything within a couple of feet, and even smell those feet, but, our five senses are incomplete without the sixth one - a sense of humor. Someone very wise must have said that.
In case you forgot, humor is that quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness, or, that which is intended to induce laughter or amusement. Do we have to define these? That is, the ability to perceive, or enjoy, or express what is amusing, comical, incongruous, or absurd. That should be a given in human nature.
Of course, there are dozens of, if not millions, jokes by and about seniors. ‘I don’t do drugs; I get the same effect by standing up fast’; ‘I love being 103 because there is no peer pressure’; ‘Can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92, have lost all my friends. But.....Thank God, I still have my Florida driver’s license!’; ‘Oh! Am I driving?’ – There are a million of them. But these are jokes, not a sense of humor.
A sense of humor is good for the health, believe it or not. It is that quick remark you make in a conversation that makes your friends laugh, or that snort and chuckle that comes from your gut when one of those friends adds a quick remark to the conversations. The sound of roaring laughter is far more infectious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When a sense of humor is shared, it brings people together and increases the intimacy. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use, and much cheaper than those RX prescriptions your doc gives you.
It relaxes your body with those belly-rolling laughs and leaves stress aside for a while. How can your be mad and laugh at the same time, unless you are a sadistic movie character. Sometimes it makes you see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous angle creates psychological distance from some problems; you can leave them behind, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and helpless. It may even clear the darkness and bring problems into the light for a closer examination.
Thinking funny is a skill that can be learned just like any other. Comedians do it. The key to humor and comedy and finding what’s funny is finding what’s matching or opposite in any situation. It includes being paradoxical, observed, capricious, fickle, twisted, screwy, bizarre, contradictory, conflicting, juxtaposed, and unpredictable, just to name a few, and just being silly, too. So, the root of all humor and comedy is ultimately what is incongruent or dissimilar.
If it is white, you think of it as orange. If it is one, you think of it being compound times ten. Of course you are going to fail once in a while and get the big GROAN from all your friends, but at least they will remember you tried, and you will feel better that at least you were thinking and took a stab at it. Humor is everywhere, in that there’s irony in just about anything a human does, said Bill Nye the Science Guy, and who can deny science.