Thursday, January 8, 2009

Courage of Laughter

Of all the forms of courage, the ability to laugh is the most profoundly therapeutic.

This quote is Number 28 of 30 in the book, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart.

Here are some of the ideas presented in this chapter:

People find it hard to entertain two emotions simultaneously.

What is important about laughter in our lives? If you ask people, even when they are depressed, if they have a good sense of humor, the answer is nearly uniformly "yes." ...even though ample evidence to the contrary.

What gives humor its power in our lives is that a capacity for laughter is one of the two characteristics that separate us from other animals. The other, as far as we know, is the ability to contemplate our own death. There is a connection between these two uniquely human attributes that cuts to the heart of the great paradox of life: It is possible to be happy in the face of our mortality.

To be able to experience fully the sadness and absurdity that life so often presents and still find reasons to go on is an act of courage abetted by our ability to both love and laugh.

Humor also is a form of sharing, an interpersonal exercise. To share laughter is a way of affirming that we are all in this lifeboat together. The sea surrounds us; rescue is uncertain; control is illusory. Still, we sail on--together.

Those are some of the high points in this chapter.

A personal word: We are finding in these our later years that as long as we can find humor in a situation, we are able to enjoy life. Interestingly, we laugh a lot. Everything seems funny, and it's mostly at ourselves. We often say, "As long as we can keep laughing, we will be okay."

Of course there are sad times and occasions, but we don't dwell there too long. We move on.

The other day we were watching TV and Paul made a comment of observation. We looked at each other and then started laughing and we couldn't stop. I couldn't catch my breath. It wasn't the words, it was the interaction and we both interpreted the same funny way. Quite enjoyable. And we missed a few minutes of the TV program until we could quit laughing.

I've often heard that growing old is only for the courageous. I agree with Dr. Livingston, this author, that the most profoundly therapeutic form of courage is laughter.


Cathy H said...

"To be happy in the face of our mortality."


Good stuff!

Deborah Felts said...

Oh wow, Mary! I'm definitely gonna read this one with you! This looks like just what I need!

When I was growing up we used to sing a hymn, and the chorus said, "grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the living of these days." I honestly used to think, "Wow, that's pretty heavy, must have been written during a war or something." I now realize it was probably written during someone's regular old life! I think it takes a lot of courage to live.

In my great need to control all, I'm also realizing that everything doesn't have to be working out or lined up just right for there to be laughter and happiness. I look forward to reading this! Thanks. - Deb

Mary Burleson said...

Sounds paradoxical, doesn't it? I read one time that what we hear or read that rings true is what we've already intuitively learned. I find that so often to be true.

My personality type is a serious type. It's not a natural thing for me to laugh a lot. I've learned to laugh at most things, but not in a making fun of others or in a derisive way. It's mostly at the absurdity of my own ways. Gets easier with age.

Bobby Brown said...

It is our hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ and the eternal bliss that follows that enables us "to be happy in the face of our mortality."

Mary Burleson said...

Of course, you're right. I would add you are right at the "knowing" level, at the foundation level. Too often, it seems to me, we can know something but fail to enjoy it. I think there's another level of actually enjoying the day-to-day happenings and that's where the laughter I'm talking about comes in. It's amazing when I set my mind to it, that I can find something to chuckle at or to hee-haw over. It's just a matter of making that choice. Hey, thanks for commenting. And thanks for helping me adjust my settings to you could. MB

Karen Jordan said...

Mary, It's great to find your blog! You and Paul will always be on my list of "favorite teachers." [My family attended Southcliff BC in the early '80s.] Blessings!