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5 Reminders to Not Take Life so Seriously (and Why It's Important)


When was the last time you had a full-blown belly laugh that left you in tears? And when was the last time you felt giddy like a child on Christmas eve with excitement about life? If you can’t remember the answer to these questions, you might be taking life too seriously.

When you don’t leave room for fun and won’t let go of your problems, you miss out on the living part of life. By not taking life so seriously, you open yourself up to a life of deeper fulfillment and less stress. But this may be easier said than done.

This article is going to teach you how to stop taking life so seriously and finally let loose to live your life to the fullest.

Why do we feel like we have to take life so seriously?

Why can’t we all just sit back and enjoy the ride that is life? Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

As you are probably well aware, human nature and current societal pressures tend to result in far too many of us operating from a place of survival mode. In survival mode, we focus on our fears and anticipate the next thing that could go wrong.

You jump from one stressor to the next. In a typical week, I will go from stressing out about a patient one minute to then stressing about a presentation I have to give on Friday.

Research shows that this consistent focus on stress and fear leads to an experience of anxiety. And the kicker is when we approach life from this anxious state the same study found we’re even less able to effectively deal with challenges.

So essentially we feel like we have to take life so seriously because if we don’t then something might go wrong or we might fail. This increases our anxiety and feeds back into the stressed-out loop we live in. All this does is make us take life even more seriously.

The impact of taking things seriously all the time

You might think that not taking life so seriously is going to be detrimental for you because you can’t function at your best if you’re not on high alert all the time.

The research would argue otherwise, however. When you take things seriously and live in a state of low-grade chronic stress, a study found that it has the following impacts on your body:

  • Reduced immune system function.
  • Hormonal dysregulation.
  • Reduced cognitive capacity.
  • Increased inflammation in the body.
  • Neurochemical changes that put you at risk for depression.

So by learning not to take things so seriously, you will experience greater health and mental vitality that allows you to both succeed and enjoy your life.

I experience this all the time. Whenever I get so bogged down by a problem in my life or let my stress levels get out of hand, it’s almost guaranteed that I will get a cold.

It’s my body and brain’s way of saying you need to chill out and learn how to surrender to all that life has to offer.

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5 ways to stop taking life so seriously

Let’s dive into steps you can take to reduce your tight grip on the reins of life and master the art of enjoyment on a day-to-day basis.

1. Remember your own mortality

Starting out on an uplifting note, right? But in all honesty, realizing that you are but a mere mortal who will someday not roam the earth may help you put your problems or circumstances into perspective.

When I reflect on the fact that I only get this one life, it helps me realize that all the things that stress me out aren’t worth my time.

I remember chatting with some of my colleagues because one of our co-workers had a patient who was pressing charges. I was surprised because the co-worker who had charges pressed against him was not stressed out whatsoever.

We asked him how he was staying cool as a cucumber. His answer was along the lines of, “When I’m on my deathbed, I won’t be thinking about this lawsuit. So why would I let it eat me up right now?”

That one interaction has stuck with me for years because I admired that approach to life.

2. Seek out humor

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Laughter is medicine”. And oh boy, I believe it to be some of the best medicine life has to offer.

When you’re laughing, you’re not angry or focusing on the negative. Laughing makes you remember that life can be fun. As such, it's a great way to not take life so seriously.

When I find myself getting stuck in a state of “just keep swimming” in life, I make it a point to seek out a good laugh. Sometimes it’s as simple as spending time with one of my friends who I can goof around with and just be silly.

But most of the time, I either seek out a comedy show or throw on a YouTube video of one of my favorite comedians.

Sometimes, it's also a good idea to just laugh at yourself, for something silly you once did.

It only takes a few minutes of listening to some jokes to remember that life can be fun. And that if we turn our problems upside down, we can end up getting a good belly laugh out of them.

3. See the opportunity in the problem

Speaking of turning your problems upside down, another way to stop taking life so seriously is to find the good in your problems.

Yes, I know I sound like your mom forcing you to be grateful for that present that you didn’t want. But flipping your perspective on your problems can help you realize that it’s not such a big deal and ease your stress.

The other day I found out that I owed more money than I thought for renewing my PT license. Things like this would usually stress me out because I run on a pretty intentional budget.

Instead of having my little mini freak-out session about finances, I took it as a reminder to remember that allowing myself to get so attached to money isn’t a healthy place to be.

It ended up being a helpful way for me to work on my headspace with my money and remember to react from a place of abundance instead of lack.

I know this problem is generally a small one.  However, even with life’s bigger curveballs, you can almost always find the gift hidden in the problem if you choose to look hard enough.

4. Make time for play

I think this tip is way underrated. We encourage play so much as a kid, but somewhere along the path to adulthood, we stop focusing on it.

Play is a time when you can just let yourself be free to create, relax, and enjoy life with no pressure.

For me, playtime lately has looked like learning to crochet or throwing the ball for fetch with my dog in the yard. Other times my playtime is along the lines of baking my favorite cookies or reading a fantasy book.

Your play doesn’t have to be a certain activity, but you just need to find something that completely pulls you away from the day-to-day stressors.

You need to do more of what makes you happy, and nothing more.

Having this time to create and have fun just for the sake of it is what helps put back into perspective that life is meant to be enjoyed.

5. Use the "year from now" trick

Another handy trick is to ask yourself, “In a year from now, am I even going to care about this?”

In more cases than not, the answer is no. I try to think about things that stressed me out in my life a year ago and I honestly can’t even remember them.

We’re so good at building things up in our heads to be so consequential and working ourselves up over them only to realize a year later that we wasted precious energy on something insignificant.

Save yourself that precious time and energy by asking yourself the “year from now” question. You’ll find yourself letting go of problems faster and feeling so much more content.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Wrapping up

Life was never intended to be taken so seriously. Us humans are just a bit slow to learn that truth. You can abandon insignificant stressors and start living your life with a genuine smile by implementing the tips from this article. After a good laugh or two, you might just find that fun and giddy childlike excitement for life available to you anytime you want it.

What's your favorite way to remind yourself to not take life so seriously? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Ashley Kaiser

Writer

Physical therapist, writer, and outdoor enthusiast from Arizona. Self-proclaimed dark chocolate addict and full-time adrenaline junkie. Obsessed with my dog and depending on the day my husband, too.

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