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People Who Aren’t Serious About Life Understand Life Better

People Who Aren’t Serious About Life Understand Life Better

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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