Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive. – Elbert Hubbard
Do You Take Life Too Seriously?
Do you tend to take life just a little too seriously? Do you make mountains out of molehills? Just maybe you allow unnecessary worries to get the better of you.
Life can certainly get quite serious at times. It’s not always fun and games. Bad stuff happens to the best of people, and we need to handle these things like mature adults, right?
Yes, of course, there’s a lot of truth to this, but often, you probably tend to go a little overboard, and subsequently turn small inconveniences into huge disasters.
Do you think that making problems larger than life actually helps? Do you think it makes things any better? It certainly makes us worry more. And is that really very helpful? Is it helpful to worry about things unnecessarily?
Yes, there is a time and place when it’s important to take things seriously. These are times that involve compassion, empathy, and introspection. However, most situations we find ourselves in are actually not worth fussing over. In fact, they are perfect opportunities for taking a lighthearted approach to living.
Now, of course, making a commitment to not taking life too seriously ain’t easy. It’s actually damn hard because our worries make us feel very uncomfortable. Furthermore, we tend not to enjoy uncertainty very much. In fact, it’s uncertainty that actually makes us feel uncomfortable. And it’s this uncertainty that forces us to take life just a little too seriously.
When we take life too seriously, we effectively close ourselves off to potential opportunities that could come our way.
The Telltale Symptoms that You’re Taking Life Too Seriously
You, of course, might be thinking that that’s not you. You don’t take life too seriously. You’re a bit of a joker and always see the brighter side of circumstances. Maybe, that’s true, or maybe you’re just fooling yourself into believing that it’s true. Let’s find out which one it is.
Below you will find several telltale symptoms that you probably take life a little too seriously. Have a read over them and ask yourself whether this is truly how you would like to continue living your life.
- You’re constantly worrying about the smallest of things.
- You don’t deal very well with uncertainty.
- You’re afraid of embarrassing yourself.
- You’re afraid of being wrong or making a mistake.
- You’re afraid of looking silly.
- You’re overly self-conscious.
- You’re prone to get hurt, anxious, angered, overwhelmed, offended, frustrated and stressed.
- You’re incapable of self-deprecating humor.
- You’re constantly focused on threats rather than opportunities.
If after reading over this list of symptoms you agree that there is little room for improvement, then that’s a great start. Admitting to the fact that you tend to take life a little too seriously is a huge step forward.
Just imagine for a moment you lived life with a carefree attitude and approach. Just imagine you were more lighthearted and willing to laugh at yourself and the awkward circumstances that life throws your way. Just imagine how much less stress, worry, and anxiety you would experience. Wouldn’t life just be better? Wouldn’t you just feel better about yourself? Don’t you think that you would feel kind of empowered that no matter what life threw your way that it would never shake your confidence or state-of-mind?
Life can certainly be this way. In fact, you can certainly be this way. However, before you take this step, it’s important that you make a change in how you think about your life and circumstances. It’s important that you develop new thought patterns that help you to shift your perspective about the world around you.
Making a Mental Shift in How You Think
Okay, so now you’re quite aware that you tend to take life a little too seriously, and you, of course, desperately want to change. You want to take a more lighthearted approach to living. You want to see the brighter side of life without all the stress, worry, and anxiety that typically eats away at other people. But how do we do this?
Altering Your Perception of Reality
Well, it all starts with making a mental shift. This is all about making a shift in the way you think about your life and circumstances. It’s about shifting your perspective with how you choose to interpret the world around you.
The first thing to remember is that your perception of reality becomes your reality. In other words, your reality is colored by your expectations, and your expectations are a direct result of your beliefs. And, of course, your beliefs naturally sprout from the thoughts you consistently allow yourself to dwell upon.
Let’s also explain this another way…
How you interpret the events of your life determines how you see them, how you feel about them, and how you subsequently deal with them. Likewise, how you interpret a person’s intentions affects how you respond to them. Therefore, in a sense, everything is relative. You experience your reality based on how you have chosen to interpret that reality. Meaning that everyone’s experience will be slightly different.
Given this, it’s important to become aware that you always participate in how you view the world, the people, and the circumstances around you. Make a shift in how you think, and you subsequently alter how you interpret your world and what you experience as a result. This is a first important step that helps bring everything together full circle.
Stop Taking Life So Seriously
Now, that you are aware that your perception of reality becomes your reality, it’s time to use this understanding to make further shifts in how you think about your life and circumstances. The goal here is, of course, to stop taking life so seriously, or in other words, to experience the fullness of life without the stress, anxiety, worry that most people succumb to.
To make this perspective shift, you must first take control of your emotional responses. In particular, anger, worry, frustration, bitterness, etc.
For instance, have you ever considered that your worries are never a productive use of your time? Have you ever thought about how your worries are never actually going to improve the situation?
Or, what about anger? Have you ever realized that anger rarely if ever resolves friction? And it never actually makes us feel any better about ourselves or the other person, right?
Or, how about moments when you’re tempted to vent your frustrations? Does venting frustration actually make things any better?
Also, does neglecting responsibility and throwing blame upon other people fix the situation? Typically, the answer is no. It won’t fix things or change things. However, what it does show is that you have no control over your own life. Moreover, it shows a lack of emotional maturity.
As we go about our day, we often allow our emotions to get the better of us. We allow trivial matters and small irritants to disturb our equilibrium. And when we’re unbalanced, we make irrational decisions and allow our emotions to get out of hand.
If you strongly desire to live life in a more lighthearted way, then you must get very clear about the differences between a trivial matter and something that’s actually worth fighting for. You must separate in your mind’s eye the difference between a small irritant and a life altering problem. Only in this way will you be able to understand the gravity of what you’re dealing with. And you can then, of course, respond appropriately.
For instance, let’s say that during the day you catch yourself getting somewhat irritated. Settle yourself at that moment and ask the following set of questions:
What exactly is irritating me right now?
Does this significantly impact my life, or is it just a minor inconvenience?
Will it negatively impact my week? This month? This year?
Will this even matter tomorrow?
Am I simply just blowing things out of proportion?
Is this something that’s really worth getting emotional about?
What’s a better and more productive way I could respond in this situation?
The key, of course, is not get wrapped up emotionally in petty things that won’t matter in the long-run. People who live life in a more lighthearted and carefree way understand the difference between a life altering problem that needs their full focus and attention and a minor irritant or inconvenience that’s not worth any emotional investment.
If life is stressing you out and your emotions are getting out of control, then just maybe you need to step back a little. Step back from the situation and ask yourself whether or not at this moment you are taking things a little too seriously.
Remember that Time is Precious
Another important mental shift to make has to do with time. In particular, the realization that time is a precious resource that we cannot get back.
How you spend the moments of your day is reflected in how you use your time. You can, of course, spend your time worrying and stressing about little things that won’t matter tomorrow or next week. Or you can instead choose to spend it in a more efficient way focusing on making the most of every situation.
Whenever you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by the circumstances of your life, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
Is it worth getting emotionally riled up about this?
What’s the emotional cost of indulging in this?
What’s the opportunity cost? What could I miss out on as a result?
How else could I potentially interpret these events?
How could I interpret them in a way that makes me feel good about myself and about my life?
Given this, what’s a more effective response I could make in this situation?
How could I approach this situation in a more lighthearted way?
How else could I spend my time right now?
Remember, that it all comes down to the interpretations you make. If you’re getting stressed or anxious about something, then it’s because you have interpreted those circumstances in a particular way. Choose instead to interpret them differently in a more carefree and lighthearted way, and you will quickly shift how you think and subsequently how you respond to the situation at hand.
Time to Accept a New Reality
To stress less and live life in a more lighthearted and carefree way, we must be willing and able to accept a new reality. A reality where our perspective of our world and the circumstances of our lives are different than what most other people experience.
To make this perspective shift, you must commit yourself to adopting a new view of your world. A view that will encourage you to enjoy the moment and take life a little less seriously.
Let’s break this down by making one perspective shift at a time.
This Moment is Rather Insignificant
Have you ever contemplated the fact that this moment is only a tiny fragment of your entire life and existence?
People take things too seriously because they tend to get lost in the moment. To them, only this moment matters. And therefore, no matter what happens at the moment, they tend to give that moment a high degree of significance.
People put too much weight on what’s happening right now and fail to put the current events and circumstances into proper context.
What’s happening right now in your life, is only a single thread on the canvas of your life. This moment, therefore, doesn’t define you. It doesn’t lay down the script for the rest of your life. It’s only a moment, and possibly more insignificant than you realize.
But let’s say that you’re facing a huge problem right now. Yes, this might be a significant problem within the context of this week, this month, or this year. However, your problem is all but part of a billion problems that people are dealing with across the globe. In fact, your problem might pale in comparison to what other people are dealing with right now. And across generations of time and space, your problem becomes even more meaningless and irrelevant.
You, of course, might feel differently as you’re caught up in this problem right now. But possibly things are not as serious as you imagine them to be.
With this in mind, take a step back and view your problem from a global perspective. See it within the context of all the other problems people are currently dealing with. Just maybe then, this will help put the problem into proper perspective.
People Won’t Always Support or Like You
No matter what you do, what you say, or the brilliant ideas you come up with. The reality is that people will not always support you, agree with you, or for that matter like you.
To live life in a more lighthearted way, you must curb your expectations. Don’t expect that everyone will always be on your side or that they will share your beliefs and opinions. The likelihood is that they won’t. And even if they do, it will probably be short-lived. Everyone, after all, changes their mind from time-to-time.
Accept and respect how other people are and the differences they bring to the table, and you will stop taking life so seriously. You will stop because you will come to the realization that the only opinion that truly matters is your own.
Life is About Experience Not Outcomes
We often take things too seriously in an effort to achieve a certain outcome. We have all these goals and aspirations, and a clear picture of what that will look like at some point in the future. Then, when we don’t get what we want, we succumb to disappointment and self-pity.
Yes, having goals is important. But just maybe we give our goals too much significance. We so desperately want to achieve that goal, that we quickly forget that the destination pales in comparison to the person we become along our journey toward that destination.
Have you ever felt kind of empty inside after achieving a goal? That typically happens when we desperately strive for a single outcome. We eventually achieve our goal, but instead of enjoying it, we begin the pursuit of something else.
The joy isn’t actually found within the achievement of that goal. The joy is found within the journey toward your destination. Therefore, whether you achieve your goal or not, doesn’t really matter. What matters is the experience you gain along the way and the person you become as a result of that journey. That is something you can take away for the rest of your life.
Given this, it’s important not to put too much significance on goal achievement. Yes, your goals are important, but the journey toward those goals is what counts. Therefore, whether you achieve the goal or not, matters little. It’s the person you become along the way that lives on within you for the rest of your life.
With this in mind, find joy in the moments of achievement along your journey toward your goal. That is when the greatest happiness and fulfillment can be found.
Life is Full of Stuff That is Out of Your Control
Life is incredibly unpredictable and uncertain. We just never know exactly what will happen next. We can, of course, do our best to make predictions to control our outcomes, but the reality is that nothing is ever certain.
This, of course, leaves us with only two choices. We can either try controlling everything, or we can embrace uncertainty. Trying to control everything will, of course, lead to massive disappointment. On the other hand, by embracing uncertainty, we can go with the flow of life. We can approach every circumstance with curiosity and fascination. And instead of stressing out about what will happen next, we can get excited about the possibilities and opportunities that await us around the corner.
The people who take life too seriously are often trying to control everything within their sphere of influence. And as we all know from experience, that rarely if ever works. Choose instead to accept that the world is unpredictable and that bad things will sometimes happen to the best of people. Then commit yourself to embracing every moment, and making the best of every situation.
Life is Incredibly Amusing
When bad things happen, you have two choices. You can either give in to your anger, disappointment or frustrations — as most people do. Or you can simply choose to deal with the situation with a little sense-of-humor.
If you choose to allow your emotions to get the better of you, you shut down all opportunity for making the most of your predicament. You’re no longer in the right frame-of-mind to think things through rationally. Instead, you close the door to opportunity and wilt under the weight of your own irrational thoughts.
On the other hand, what if you chose to view the situation humorously? What if instead of cursing or allowing your critical voice to get the better of you, you chose instead to ask:
What’s funny about this situation?
What’s hilarious about this person’s criticism?
How could humor be of value here?
Yes, asking these questions might not immediately help you find a solution. However, what these questions will do is put you in a more positive state-of-mind. A state-of-mind where you are more open and receptive to possibilities that may exist.
Excuses Are a Waste of Time
Have you ever caught yourself making excuses? When we make excuses, that’s a telltale sign that we’re taking things too seriously.
Excuses are an indication that what we thought should’ve happened, didn’t. And as a result, we try and explain away why we didn’t get our desired outcome. But are excuses really ever helpful? Not really.
Instead of making excuses, choose to ask questions that help you find solutions to your predicament. When you ask questions that lead to answers, you naturally become more playful and open to the possibilities. You stop taking things so seriously and instead turn excuses into curiosity. And only via curiosity will you find the answers you are searching for.
Things Could be Much Worse
No matter how bad things get, keep in mind that things could be much worse. When Murphy’s Law is in full effect, everything and anything can happen. However, that, of course, doesn’t mean it will. But if you envision every problem as the end of your world, then that’s precisely how you will experience it.
Here’s an idea. When confronted with a problem, make a perspective shift. Instead of crying over the spilled milk, choose to count your good fortune that you didn’t break the milk bottle. Instead of throwing a tantrum that things didn’t work out as you had imagined, consider for a moment that maybe this will actually all work out for the best in the end.
The key here is to stay open to the possibilities and to put your problem into proper perspective. Don’t close yourself off from seeing the opportunities that may still arise as a result of having this problem in your life.
What you have might very well just be a minor inconvenience in the context of what could’ve potentially gone wrong. Given this, treat it as a minor inconvenience. Don’t give the problem any more credit than it deserves. You are after all in control of how you interpret your circumstances.
Developing an Anti-Serious Action Plan
Okay, so if you’re ready to start living life a little less seriously, then within this section you will find a definitive action plan that will help you do just that.
You, of course, already have an understanding of the mindset required to live life in a more lighthearted way. All you need now is some specific actions that can help you to put that mindset into practice.
Some of these action steps will be quite straightforward. However, other action steps will require that you use your imagination and actually make a considerable effort to approach life and circumstances in a very specific way. It might take a little getting used to, but I’m sure you’ll follow through and have some fun working through this process. 🙂 Remember, the goal is not to take life too seriously. Therefore, your objective is to have fun. Enjoy the process and turn your life into an incredible adventure. 🙂
Imagine Your Life as a Game
Just imagine for a moment your entire life, and all the experiences you accumulate are nothing more but a game. This is, of course, your game. You, therefore, piece together the rules about how this game should be played. Moreover, you decide how to score points and win the game of life. Remember also to celebrate your victories and enjoy the process.
For more insights, read an in-depth exploration about how to Win at the Game of Life.
Imagine Yourself as a Lead Actor Within a Sitcom
Just imagine for a moment that you came into this world with one life purpose. And that life purpose is to find joy and humor everywhere you go. Now, this, of course, won’t be easy. Finding joy and humor when your emotions are being twisted in multiple directions can be extremely difficult to deal with. Unless, of course, you’re the lead actor within your own sitcom.
Yes, I want you to imagine that your entire life is nothing more but a sitcom. As the lead actor of this sitcom, you will, of course, go through your ups and downs. Terrible things will no doubt sometimes happen. And these things will be completely out of your control. However, this is a sitcom, and you are therefore required to make the best of every situation. More specifically, you are required to find the humor in every circumstance you find yourself in.
Remember, that in a sitcom a lot of things tend to go wrong very unexpectedly. And when they do, you need to find humor in these circumstances. You are then required to persist through your dilemma and come out on the other side with a renewed spirit and enthusiasm for the future.
Imagine Your Life as the Truman Show
Have you watched the 1998 movie, The Truman Show, starring Jim Carey? If you haven’t, then this is definitely a movie for your wish list. 🙂
The movie is about Truman Burbank, who is played by Jim Carey. Truman believes that he’s living a regular normal life just like everyone else. However, what he doesn’t know is that everything is an elaborate illusion created by the producer of the show. More specifically, his entire life and existence is a television show watched by millions of people around the world.
Truman’s entire life is broadcast live through a network of hidden cameras that capture every moment of his day. And, of course, everyone but Truman knows this. All of Truman’s friends, colleagues, and the people in his life are hired actors acting out a script around its main character.
I mention this movie because I want you to imagine for a moment that you are Truman Burbank. Your entire life and world are scripted. Therefore all your friends, colleagues and family members are there within your world, just for you. They are there to help you achieve your goals and live a better quality of life. Yes, things will go wrong at times, but you can feel secure in the knowledge that the director is working valiantly behind the scenes making sure that everything works out for the best in the end.
Take time to watch the movie, and this will give you a better idea of what it means to live life like Truman Burbank. And when you do, you will come to understand how much value this movie can bring to your life. 🙂
Consistently Embrace the Ridiculousness of Life
Life is ridiculous, unpredictable, and uncertain. Things happen unexpectedly that throw our entire lives off course. But that’s life. It’s naturally this way. It throws us curve balls when we least expect them and trips us over when we’re not looking under our feet.
Instead of resisting the ridiculous nature of life, practice acceptance instead. Accept that things are the way they are. Bad things will always happen. However, what seems horrible at the moment, might eventually turn into a blessing in disguise. You just never know. However, if you don’t handle the situation appropriately, then it’s very possible that things could get much worse.
The first step is therefore acceptance. Whenever something bad happens, tell yourself…
I accept how things are and I will make the most of this situation.
I will just move with the flow of life and allow things to be as they are.
The second step is to simply embrace the uncertainties of life. Life is fundamentally uncertain. And that’s what makes it so very exciting. See it in this way, and you will progressively stop taking things so seriously. 🙂
Never Take Things Personally
One of the main reasons why we take things so seriously is because we take things too personally. For instance, when someone criticizes or rejects us, we take it personally, and it ruins our entire day. But, what if you didn’t take things so personally? What if instead, you just laughed things off and told yourself that…
This doesn’t matter.
I am bigger than this situation.
I choose to respond differently.
Whenever you’re criticized, judged, ridiculed, or rejected, just take a moment to smile, and then move on. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and to embarrass yourself at times. In fact, laugh at your mishaps and fumbles. Have fun with your goofy nature. Just be real and authentic. And embrace fully who you are with all your flaws and limitations. Only in this way will you stop taking life so seriously. 🙂
Take Time for Gratitude
When life starts to get a little too serious, take a moment to reflect upon the things you are most grateful for. Ask yourself:
What’s there to be grateful for in this situation?
What do I appreciate about this person?
What do I have that other people lack?
Gratitude will help you appreciate what you have in your life right now. And this will subsequently allow you to view your life and circumstances with an open mind and a rich perspective.
Turn Lemons into Lemonade
Finally, to live life a little less seriously, it’s important to adopt a solution focused attitude. In other words, train yourself to turn lemons into lemonade. Or to put it another way, turn problems into opportunities, fear into excitement, mistakes into learning experiences, and failure into humorous stories and tales.
No matter what happens to you, only your perspective of the situation matters. One person will succumb to their difficulties, while another will enthusiastically overcome them. And it’s all dependent on our perspective and the attitude we bring to every situation.
Commit to turning lemons into lemonade, and you will never get caught off guard by life’s endless array of problems. 🙂
Nobody said that living life in a more lighthearted and humorous way was going to be easy. It certainly won’t be easy. You need to adopt new attitudes, perspectives, beliefs, and then take the necessary action steps to make it all happen. However, what I can tell you is that in the end, it will all be worth it.
Less stress, less worry, and no more anxiety attacks. Moreover, you are less likely to succumb to anger, frustration and overwhelm. These are emotions I’m sure you would like to leave behind. And you will, but only when you stop taking life so seriously.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’m confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. It’s kind of like implanting a thought into your brain – an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas. 🙂
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 5 Ways to Help You Stop Taking Yourself so Seriously @ Inc.
- 6 Reasons Not to Take Life Seriously @ Lifehack
- 6 Ways to Stop Taking Life Seriously @ Finer Minds
- 6 Ways to Stop Taking Everything So Seriously, And Focus On What Really Matters @ Bustle
- 9 Things We Should Stop Taking Seriously In Life @ Bustle
- 10 Simple Ways to Lighten Up and Let Life Flow @ Mind Body Green
- How to Lighten Up and Stop Taking Everything so Seriously @ Bolde
- How to Stop Taking Life Too Seriously @ WikiHow
- How to Stop Taking Things Personally @ Psychology Today
- This is What Happens When You Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously @ Thought Catalog
- You’re Delirious If You Take Life Serious @ Darius Foroux