Lessons on Life from Sir Noel Coward
Laughter Keeps You Healthy, Happy and Maybe Even Wise
You ever know when a good quote will come in handy.
I was asked to appear on the local Fox News channel last week to respond to a newly published study showing that loneliness can be fatal to seniors. The study confirms what many people in the aging field know: loneliness is bad for your health and people who feel isolated are at high risk for a range of unhealthy results, death being the ultimate bad result.
I am not sure how the host of the show found my organization, but I assume he did a quick search of the word Aging and found us. (My unofficial ‘mission’ is that whenever anybody puts the word ‘Creative’ in front of the word ‘Aging’, they think of us: Northwest Center for Creative Aging. So whatever the path he followed, I was open to the opportunity to talk about how people can live more creatively and how relationships and engagement are among the keys to that goal.
I have some TV experience from when I worked at Boeing. I was part of the team at BEN – the Boeing Education Network – an in-house studio that produces a wide range of programs for Boeing employees. After the initial discomfort of seeing myself on camera – something I still don’t really enjoy – I learned to focus on whatever the topic was and developed the ability to ask good questions and offer about leadership development and diversity.
That meant that in my 3 minutes with the camera running, I had a batch of things to offer about the importance of staying engaged, including a list from Sir Noel Coward, someone who I knew older viewers would remember. Coward was famous as a playwright, composer, director, actor and singer.
He was known for his wit, flamboyance and what Time magazine called “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” (Definitely something All the Single Girlfriends can relate to!)
Coward said there were four things necessary for people to feel satisfied:
1. Something to do.
2. Something to look forward to.
3. Something to Believe in.
4. Someone to love.
The friend who gave me the list added another:
5. Something to laugh about.
It’s a good list, one that I see hits home when I reel it off. I know that I am most hopeful and happy when I know my own answers to those 5 categories.
So here’s the challenge: Make 5 lists that capture those aspects of your life. Up the ante on Sir Noel’s ‘Something’ by having a number of ‘Somethings’ that fill those slots. And keep adding to them. Hopefully the things you do are ones you’ve enjoyed doing and include some new ones you are learning to do. The things you look forward to might be new goals or ones you’ve done before and want to do again.
Your beliefs are probably familiar to you but might be worth examining and recommitting to and the people you love might range from family to partners and, of course, your girlfriends.
As for laughter, set yourself a daily quota for as much laughter as you can fit in. Whether it is the joke someone told you, the newest YouTube gone viral, or your pet or roommate’ antics, take the time to enjoy them and then share them with others. Laughing together qualifies as something that will keep you healthy and happy for a long time.
Graphic credit: Noel Coward.com