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Taking things too seriously is in a way a very admirable and pleasant quality. It means that you are earnest and honest and it probably means that you want to make sure everything is just so and everyone is happy.
However at the same time it can also be something of a nightmare for you as it means that you are stressing and upset about things that really shouldn't matter. At the same time some people will take advantage of your nature and tease you with things, while others might seem somewhat offended by the fact that you take their jokes and comments seriously and feel like they can't joke with you as a result. And as you take things seriously you will likely be hurt by this too. Lightening up and taking things less seriously can make life seem more fun and a lot less stressful and it can help you to relax more easily and let go. Here we will look at why you might take life too seriously and how to let go and enjoy it a little more.
Where Does it Come From?
If you take things to seriously then this probably just means that you're the sort of person who worries a lot. Freud would describe this as having an 'overactive superego' � the superego being the part of the psyche that makes sure we stick to societal norms, follow rules and don't just give in to all of our urges and desires. This kind of overactive conscience tends to come from our parents and what they said to us as children � if they were constantly warning us of potential dangers and telling us to be careful then this can cause us to be overdeveloped in that sense ourselves. We're used to focusing on the potential threats and not just letting go and it's almost our parent's voice we are hearing echoing in our head.
At the same time you may just be the sort who takes life seriously. Perhaps you were always pushed to achieve, and maybe you just don't get that much enjoyment out of playing and jokes and prefer to do well and succeed. That's good and well, but in reality an inability to laugh may actually prevent you from progressing as far as you might like and especially if it prevents you from taking chances or thinking outside the box. It's important to recapture some youthful imagination and to enjoy playing around with life and having fun.
Some people also just struggle not to take things literally and might struggle with jokes or games simply because they are taking them at face value (this actually may be a symptom of ASD � Autism Spectrum Disorder). Try to look past what people are saying and get the intention behind it � and remember they're just words.
Other Ways to Look at Life
The thing is, none of us really know why we're here or what the point of life is. This means that we are striving towards an uncertain goal and we don't know whether there will be any reward afterward or not. In other words then there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to live life, and there is no reason not to just enjoy it now. If you don't spend any time enjoying yourself then you might well find that you missed your one opportunity and had nothing to show for it. In fact studies have shown that when we are given the opportunity to do something unusual and fun, we will tend to look back on the event more fondly if we throw caution to the wind than we would if we took the 'sensible' option and saved money or stayed safe. There is no one who can tell you that you shouldn't be having fun, and there is no authority higher than yourself so you should just focus on finding meaning but having a lot of fun while you do.
This also means that whatever your end goal is, it doesn't really matter whether your plans are ruined. It's all about the journey of getting there and about the fun you have on the way and not really what you actually achieve as you can't take it with you. So if you went to an interview for a job you wanted but didn't get it because you got pooed on by a seagull on the way in � at least you have a funny story and that experience will help give your life more meaning. Try to think how your life looks to people on the outside and if it's colorful interesting and funny then surely that's a good thing � and actually a better thing than if it all just went smoothly but uneventfully? Looking at your life from an outside perspective as though it were a sitcom or a book can help you to see the funny side of a lot more things, and it will also show you how the little hiccups along the way are actually what makes life fun. So someone is teasing you... would life be any fun if everyone was just courteous? Isn't it just typical? Because at the end of the day, what do they know and who cares about what they think? They're just more colorful characters in the cast of your life. And anyway if you have the option of getting upset or seeing the funny side then which is the more productive? And if you laugh with them that's the one sure fire way to get them to stop and side with you. People like someone who can laugh at themselves.
Ways to Lighten Up
Reading a case for lightening up though isn't going to suddenly change your thinking and unfortunately it's just not that easy. There are other ways you can make sure you stay fun and don't take life too seriously. For instance make sure you do lots of fun things and seize opportunities to just goof off when they arise. At the same time spend lots of time with friends � because if they're really good friends then they'll tease you and they won't let you take life too seriously. This isn't a bad thing, it's a sign that they regard you fondly. And even just watching a lot of comedies can help you to see what makes it so funny when something goes wrong. And if you see the funny side, and the fun side in everything that happens, then suddenly life becomes a lot more pleasant and you'll find you can get value out of anything.
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- Comment #1 (Posted by Mr T)
Thanks for the article... I'm off to try and enjoy life a little bit more.
I take... correction... TOOK things to seriously. Its mainly down to me being driven to succeed in life (parents and family). I can achieve that while enjoying life... I can see that now. I can have my cake and eat it! Success and being happy.... how cool is that!
- Comment #2 (Posted by Ashish Agrawal)
It was an outstandingly well written article, and it helped me to understand a lot of things from my life. I Loved it. I generally don't reply or rate after reading any articles, but as it helped me the best way, I preferred to reply. :-)
- Comment #3 (Posted by John)
Meaningful. Helped shape perspective. Had me until the 7th paragraph. Well-intended, but, missed the "hitting home." Fell apart. Don't fully understand. Analysis, while insightful, only waist-deep. Thank you for writing.
- Comment #4 (Posted by jyoti)
Thanks for this article... it helped me a lot...
- Comment #5 (Posted by Deanne)
Missed the mark especially the part, "...would life be any fun if everyone was just courteous? Isn't it just typical? Because at the end of the day, what do they know and who cares about what they think?" So I guess it's okay when people are rude to you then?
- Comment #6 (Posted by TANER)
Its ironic how I had tears and smile on my face after readin this.
- Comment #7 (Posted by Tayo ogunbode)
It's nice to know that I'm not alone. Thank you for the article... nice piece of work.
- Comment #8 (Posted by Denise)
Thanks for the article, I�m actually a person that always take things very very seriously. And it hurts me and makes me angry and shaking inside. I want to learn to make it go away and by understand why am I like this? I actually went through depression because of this, and every time I encountered this kind of emotion by the words of other people... (mostly is from my dad and other very close relatives) I will still feel the past sensation of the depression. I don�t want to go thru that anymore. So I need to know WHY, so as to solve the problem... so this article give me some insight, I need to practice it every day... Thanks Mr Thomas!
- Comment #9 (Posted by Gela)
It opened my mind to greater things. I�m glad that I�m not struggling this alone, it is indeed true that our purpose here on earth is to sustain each other through love and compassion. Thank you Sir Thomas!
The last paragraph torn me. "Being with friends... they won�t let you take life seriously"! For me, some of my best friends, they seem not to care.
- Comment #10 (Posted by Mr Mr)
So basically remain ignorant of the future, live for the now and do whatever makes you feel good because there is no right or wrong. Don't listen to these articles, deep down we all know there is a right and wrong.
- Comment #11 (Posted by Matilynn)
Gives me lots to think about.
Every day you are faced with a million little traps that encourage you to take your life way too seriously. The frustrations of 21st century living come in many forms such as slow internet connections, people who drive at a snail’s pace, and choosing what to wear to an event with an ambiguous dress code. It is easy to get caught up in perpetual flow of decisions and events that make up our lives and to forget that most of the challenges we are faced with are only as stressful as we choose to let them be. Next time you are tempted to smash your computer or lash out in a fit of road rage, remember these reasons not to take life so seriously.Every day you are faced with a million little traps that encourage you to take your life way too seriously. The frustrations of 21st century living come in many forms such as slow internet connections, people who drive at a snail’s pace, and choosing what to wear to an event with an ambiguous dress code. It is easy to get caught up in perpetual flow of decisions and events that make up our lives and to forget that most of the challenges we are faced with are only as stressful as we choose to let them be. Next time you are tempted to smash your computer or lash out in a fit of road rage, remember these reasons not to take life so seriously.
1. The world is ridiculous
Objectively speaking, civilization is ridiculous. Next time you are at a scenic overlook or an elementary school Christmas pageant, take a second to look around and count the number of people who are experiencing the beauty of nature or the adorable miscues through small LCD rectangles instead of with their own eyes. If that isn’t enough to convince you that our lives are ridiculous, consider the fact that it is customary for businessmen to tie a piece of cloth around their necks every day for no apparent reason, or that every suit they wear has a row of pointless buttons on the cuff. If you can stop and laugh at every day absurdities, you are two steps ahead of the game.
2. Relationships are all that matter
Time and time again when researchers have tried to figure out what makes people happy they have come to the same conclusion: personal relationships make the biggest difference. If we valued our happiness over money (as many of us claim to) we would do everything we could to spend time with friends and family and not worry so much about putting in extra time at work. When you look back on your life, you won’t reflect on the time you spent at work; you will remember family dinners, great vacations, romantic dinners, and your wedding. Prioritize people over your career.
3. Rich people aren’t happier people
Spending more time at home or with friends will probably have a negative impact on the balance of your bank account. Just reading that sentence probably sent a wave of panic through some of you, but consider the fact that wealth is not correlated with happiness. In fact, once you have enough money to satisfy your basic needs, money makes very little difference in your overall well-being. The only exceptions are if you give your extra money to charity or if it significantly boosts your social rank.
4. Worrying isn’t productive
Some of us even end up stressed out in situations where it is totally unwarranted. For example, you might find yourself visiting a new city like London or Paris and end up thoroughly confused by the transit system. You can’t find out how to get where you want to go and it makes you want to scream. But what are you accomplishing by stressing yourself out? Nothing. Take a step back and laugh at yourself. Go with the flow and end up where you end up. Getting lost in a new city will lead to a way better story than going to some stuffy museum anyway.
5. Your time is limited
If worrying is unproductive and money doesn’t make us happy, why do we waste so much time on those things? You only get to live one life. If you’re lucky enough to make it to age 90 you still have less than 800,000 hours between the time you are born and the time you die to cherish and enjoy all the things that make up life. One third of that time you won’t even be awake for, so you had best make the most of the remaining chunk. Do what you need to do to live a happy and fulfilled life, and forget what anyone else tells you.
6. You are a speck
Finally, if you need a reminder that your problems aren’t as big as they seem and you want to readjust your perspective, get out of the city and look at the stars. The universe is larger than you can imagine. It is filled with burning balls of gas, galaxies and solar systems beyond counting, and (in all likelihood) thousands of other civilizations fighting their own wars and facing their own challenges. In a very real sense, you are insignificant. What better reason could there be not to take your life to seriously? The only thing that really matters is enjoying your life as much as you can and helping other people do the same.
Featured photo credit: Loren Kernsvia flickr.com