Life is a serious business! Or is it? Life is beautiful, amazing, majestic, short, and we only get one. Just because someone doesn’t take their lives overly seriously does not mean that they are without motivation or ambition. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about things. People who have learned not to take life–or themselves–seriously tend to live happier, longer lives, tend to get sick less, and seem more fearless.
It’s easy to fall into taking life too seriously. You have an important job and all of a sudden the everyday crises and problems take over your thoughts. Or maybe your baby has colic and all you can focus on is the constant crying and lack of sleep. It happens to everyone at some point. I make a concerted effort every day to see the positive things in my life, appreciate them, and be happy and grateful for the people I have in my life.
What’s happening is that you’re focusing on the smaller stuff and not on the big picture. People who aren’t so serious about life are usually more big-picture types of people. It is easier to shake off the little things when you can see a larger picture in your mind. If I have a bad day at work, I never take that mood home with me. If I do, I’ll talk to my significant other about it, brood over it, and now it has ruined my whole evening. Instead, I think, “Okay. Today sucked. I’m going to enjoy dinner with my guy and go in ready to kick butt tomorrow!”
We should hold children up as an example of how not to take life so seriously. Kids are experts on getting over being told no and running off and enjoying the next thing in life. Let’s all strive to enjoy life the way kids enjoy bubbles. Here are eight ways those who don’t take themselves seriously understand life better.
1. Learn that you cannot control life or others, you can only control yourself and your reactions
Stop focusing on things that are fully out of your control. There is no point. You cannot control or change them, so stop wasting your precious time on those things, and focus more on enjoying life. People who don’t take life so seriously understand that if you something is out of their control, they shouldn’t be wasting neurons stressing about it. Instead, they are out there experiencing new things, going on adventures, and having fun.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
We’ve all heard it a million times. But just like with the things you can’t control, stop focusing on the small things. Think about it this way: does it really matter in the long run if your kid wears mismatched sneakers or doesn’t zip his jacket when he’s only running the 15 feet to the car? It is so easy to let little things become important, to let them become much bigger than they really are. Whether that is because the kid chooses this to go to war over, and now you have to deal with a whole thing about it, or because you’re so used to saying it that you insist on it over and over. Think about it. Instead of arguing with your kid and both of you winding up in a bad mood when you’re just trying to go run errands, pick your battles and remember that those tiny things aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of things, and you and your kid can just enjoy the moment.
Same with adult things. Does it really matter in the long run that your partner forgot to wash the dishes or vacuum, or that your boss wants you to stay 30 minutes late to finish up that project? Try to look at the bigger picture and stop stressing out and worrying about small things. Hey, maybe that project will earn you praise from your supervisor, and an eventual promotion. Maybe your partner just had a really bad day or simply forgot the chores. Is it worth a fight?
3. Smell the roses; watch the sunset
Just like not worrying about negative little things, you should also try to focus on happy smaller things. Did you see a gorgeous sunset on your way home from work? Did your kid light up when you walked in the house? Did your favorite TV show start right as you were sitting down to watch something? Those little things should make you happy. Take a moment and recognize that they are positive things, and it will help lighten your mood. Lightening your mood will make you feel better and less serious. People who don’t take life too seriously take time to be silly, enjoy the small things, and appreciate them.
4. Spend quality time with the people you love
It’s so easy to get caught up in work, errands, and the little things in everyday life that we sometimes take the people in our lives for granted. They’re there, they will continue to be there, and you’re busy! But no one ever laid on their deathbed and wished they had worked longer hours. They wish they had appreciated their loved ones and spent more time enjoying life and love, and less time assuming that they would still be there when they got home from work.
Spend real quality time. Don’t just make your kids do their homework and read more. Take them places, listen to them, watch them learn. Appreciate your partner and all they do for you and the family, spend time talking to your partner and going on date nights. Sometimes we get so focused on our careers or our specific individual life goals that we forget to appreciate the path to getting there and the people we chose to travel that path with.
The people who have learned not to take life so seriously are the ones who put more focus on the important things in life–their relationships with the people the love.
5. See the glass as half full and spread positivity
Learning to not just see the silver lining, but to appreciate it and let it give you hope is ideal. There is an old saying, “This too shall pass.” And so it will. People who don’t take life too seriously have learned not to dwell on negative things, but to seek out positive things and look forward to more. They try to spread that to others, and are optimistic about the future.
6. Learn not to let the negative things take over your whole day/week/life
There are always going to be negative things: bad days, bad moods, bad bosses, bad food. But you can choose to let go of the anger at something you cannot change, and not let it invade the rest of your life. It’s easy to get mad at something at work and take it home, rant about it, brood about it. Maybe unfairly take it out on your partner. It’s happened to me. I was blunt and said, “I know I’m the only other person here, but it is not fair to take your bad mood out on me. I know I’m not the one you’re upset at, but you’re acting like I am.” And my partner was surprised, and didn’t realize he was treating me that way because his bad mood and bad attitude was all he could focus on. I’ve been there, too. It takes a conscious effort to say to yourself, “I am not going to let this one thing ruin my whole day or my whole week. I have learned what I can from the experience, and I am going to move forward and not let it happen again.”
7. Smile more
It’s true that actually making yourself smile can lead you to feeling happier. Here is how Scientific American explained it. Smile more, laugh more, engage more. Take the time to laugh at a good joke, or smile just because you see something pretty or weird. Appreciate the little things in life! There is a series of small potholes in the sidewalk near my house, and the way they are make them look like a frowning face. Every time I walk over them, I smile. It’s funny and weird and cute.
8. Be confident
As we get older, we learn to be more comfortable and confident with who we are, at least that’s what everyone older says! But why wait? People who don’t take life as seriously tend to care less about what strangers think of them, tend to be more silly, and tend to be more confident. I’m a very confident person. I know what I’m good and bad at, I am proud of myself and my accomplishments, and I dance at parties like no one is watching. Something we learn as we have grown up is that they aren’t watching. Most people are so concerned with themselves and how they look that they are not watching you. And even if they were, who cares? You don’t know them, why would their opinions matter anyway?
Be confident. And if you aren’t confident, fake it ’til you make it. It truly works. Look people in the eyes, keep your head up and shoulders back. Ask questions, be engaged in conversations. Don’t cross your arms when you’re talking to people. Body language has a lot to do with confidence and perception. If you do these things long enough, they will become a habit and a part of you, until the confidence is ingrained.
You can make a choice to be happier, worry less, spend time with the people you love, and take life less seriously. You only get one life, and it is a terminal disease…enjoy the time and what you have!
Featured photo credit: Syda Productions via shutterstock.com