Humor When Facing Adversity: The Best Ally

· November 6, 2017

A sense of humor when facing adversity is our most useful and gratifying tool. Maintaining a sense of humor in critical circumstances helps us stay on our feet.

There is a relationship between positive emotions and our ability to recover. Studies show that going through life with a positive attitude in the face of adversity helps you be flexible in your thinking and resolution of problems. 

“Anyone who can maintain a positive sense of humor will not break down or fall apart in the most critical moments and will become a person of true strength.”

Bernabé Tierno 

Humor when facing adversity

A sense of humor is one essential characteristic of a resilient person. Resilient people can laugh at adversity and make jokes about their misfortunes. When faced with adversity, a smile is our best weapon because it helps us stay hopeful. Furthermore, it keeps us from focusing on the negative. With a positive attitude, we see the positive aspects of a situation as well as the negative.

humor when facing adversity

While some studies show that mental resilience is a relatively stable personality trait, research shows that a positive attitude helps build this “hidden strength.” This does not mean that positive emotions are simply a byproduct of resilience. Rather, feeling positive emotions during stressful experiences can help an individual’s coping process.


“Humor is a serious thing. I like to think of it as one of our greatest, earliest natural resources, which must be preserved at all costs.”

-James Thurber

Humor and health

A smile is a powerful antidote for stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more efficiently to help us regain our balance. Humor lightens our load, inspires hope, connects us with others, and keeps us focused and alert.

Positive emotions in the face of adversity also have physical effects. For example, humor boosts your immune system and increases the levels of immunoglobulin A in your saliva. This immunoglobulin is an important antibody. It acts as the first line of defense against respiratory diseases.

On the other hand, studies have shown that approaching adversity with humor is associated with a faster recovery from physical injuries. It also reduces the recidivism rates for diseases that require hospitalization in the elderly. It also has many other benefits, such as reducing hospital stays.

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tool you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”

-Paul McGhee 

Happy people prosper under adversity

When facing adversity, there are only two options: grow or suffer. It is all a question of attitude. Happy people, with their positive attitude, choose to grow. This can seem so hard to understand for many. Changing you attitude and facing adversity head on is not easy, but it’s possible.

humor when facing adversity

Viktor Frankl wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning“Man can be taken away from everything except one: the last of the human liberties, the choice of the personal attitude he must adopt towards his destiny in order to develop his own path.” These words make even more sense when we remember that Frankl spent several years in a Nazi concentration camp.

As Nietzsche wrote, “He who has a reason to live can bear almost anything.” Whenever we have a reason to move forward, we have a source from which we can draw strength. Happy people have a reason to live, and that allows them to face adversity with humor and optimism. They can stay focused on their goal.

“Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes.”

-Francis Bacon 

When we are struck by adversity, we can still emerge victorious. We can overcome and grow, accomplishing things we never thought we could. Research has shown that happy people really do prosper when faced with adversity. Instead of getting stuck, they use hope as a tool to gain ground against the storm. If they can, why not you?