Humor and Resilience
Humor offers a shield against adversity even in the direst circumstances. As Victor Frankel writes: “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation
Humor offers a shield against adversity even in the direst circumstances. As Victor Frankel wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning on he and others survived the Nazi concentration camps:
“Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human makeup, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”
In their work on healing resiliency authors Drs. Steven J. Wolin and Sybil Wolin observe that creativity and humor “turn nothing into something and something into nothing.”
A study of Vietnam POWs reports that humor was a saving grace that built solidarity and renewed hope. “These men relied on humor not in spite of the crisis but because of it. The VPOWs’ system was a powerful civilizing force.”
Humor is also viewed as a powerful tool to build resilience in children.
The Taoists are remarkable for their attitudes toward resilience even in the face of death.
When Chuang-tzu was dying, his disciples wanted to give him a lavish funeral. Said Chuang-tzu ‘I have heaven and earth for my outer and inner coffin, the sun and moon for my pair of jade discs, the stars for my pearls, the myriad creatures for my farewell presents. Is anything missing from my funeral paraphernalia? What will you add to these?’
‘Master, we are afraid that the crows and the kites will eat you.’
‘Above ground, I’ll be eaten by the crows and kites; below ground, I’ll be eaten by the ants and molecrickets. You rob the one of them to give to the other; how come you like them so much better?’ (Graham, trans.)
As the note commentator Eric Schwitzgebel notes, Chuangzu is challenging the burial traditions taken so seriously by most of his contemporaries, but also rejects by his mood and tone, solemnity and negativity about death, and undercuts his disciples’ attempts to revere him.
- Humor and Resilience
- Resilience: it’s hard to feel like a victim when you’re laughing
- Humor and Resilience: Lessons from the Vietnam POWs
- Building Resiliency in Children Through Humor
- The Humor of Zhuangzi; the Self-Seriousness of Laozi
Next: Resilience and Aging