Article Date: 5/1/2008

Jest for the Health of It
lesson learned

Jest for the Health of It

Those who look for doom and gloom have no trouble finding it.

BY JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

A physician met up with an elderly patient of his, who was prancing up the boulevard with a young peroxide blonde on his arm. "Just what do you think you're doing?" asked the M.D.

"Just following your instructions. You told me to be cheerful and get a hot momma."

"No, No! I told you to be careful, you've got a heart murmur."

I tell this story as a part of a talk I give to local civic groups on "How To Adapt To Old Age," as an example of how keeping your sense of humor can help in accepting hearing difficulties and other problems of old age.

Dr. Len Werner. co-author of the excellent book, Clinical Pearls in Refractive Care, admits another example of how being able to laugh at yourself is the healthiest way of adjusting to getting older. He tells of how a couple of years ago, a lady on the phone asked him if he would participate in a survey on aging. When he agreed, she asked his age. When he told her 74 she said he was too old for the study.

Almost every night

One more example of reconciling to the miseries of old age via humor, before I finally get around to the point of this column. It involves being able to joke about the loss of ability to do many things that we enjoyed when we were younger.

A 90-year-old couple got married and went on a two week honeymoon. When they returned, one of the bride's friends asked with a leer, "How often did you have sex?"

"Almost every night."

"Really?!"

"Yes. Almost on Monday night, almost on Tuesday night, almost on…"


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

In practice too

Keeping your sense of humor and learning to laugh at yourself is important in all aspects of life, including the practice of optometry. You'll find a whole lot less stress when you learn to look for the humorous side of your problems.

Look around the room for 30 seconds and see how many things you can see that have the color blue. At the end of the 30 seconds, if I were to ask, "While you were looking for things with blue in them, how many did you see containing the color red?"

You probably can't answer because red wasn't what you were looking for. It's the same with the situations of life. If you look for gloom and doom, that's what you're going to find. If you search instead for any positive aspects and humor, that's what you'll instead find.

More enjoyable too

In addition, many research studies indicate that retaining your sense of humor results in better health and a longer life. It also contributes to your enjoyment of life, because it makes you more popular. Everyone prefers being around someone with a happy, rather than grouchy, outlook.

"If we give you a full refund, make you a new pair of glasses at no charge, fire the optician, and burn down the office, will that satisfy you, Mrs. Jones?" said a cartoon caption sent to me by Dr. Jay Petersma, Johnston, Iowa. Humorous exaggerations such as this, can help in putting up with the stress caused by obstreperous patients.

Laughter is like changing a baby's diaper. It doesn't change things permanently, but it does make everything better, at least for awhile. OM


JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2008