Lighten up a little!
January 17, 2013 5:07 PM   Subscribe

How do I take life less seriously? I need things to be meaningful to get absorbed by them, but then I get so serious about it that I stress myself out! Help me get to a healthy balance.

I remember a time when life was fun, and I was light-hearted, and shit didn't matter so damn much. I'd like to feel that way again.

Caveat: When I try "just feeling" that way, I lose the motivation to do things that I need to do but don't necessarily want to do (like... writing papers, studying, etc.), and then I get super stressed by being overwhelmed.

I have a lot on my plate. I need to take things seriously to get them done, because if I feel like something doesn't matter, then I have no reason for doing it. I'd like to be serious about doing things and passionate about what I'm doing, but still able to have fun with them!

I saw this (and some other AskMes on the topic) but they're a bit different than what I need. Being silly for the sake of it makes me want to gag myself. But I'd like to not be bothered when other people are silly when I think they should be serious. I see other people who can maintain a healthy balance, and I'd like to get there too.
posted by DoubleLune to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I just saw this video about sloths.

The punchline is "If you're having a stressed out day, remember the sloth. They don't do shit and they haven't gone extinct. I'm sure you can afford to take a nap."
posted by JDHarper at 5:50 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

How much Wodehouse and/or Pratchett have you read? In my experience, they're not just silly/escapist reading (although they're certainly that too). They're also lessons in the light-hearted but sincere appreciation of pretty much everything, especially including the foibles of others. If they've failed to offer you some perspective in the past, I don't know.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:00 PM on January 17, 2013

Watch sitcoms. I think I have better coping mechanisms because I was practically raised by Mr. Belvedere and the Keatons. And more recently, Scrubs.
posted by discopolo at 6:06 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mindfulness - being present in the moment requires removal of judgment about the moment (this sucks, I'd rather be doing something else; that person's being too silly, they should be more seirous)

Lists help you keep organised and help reduce feeling overwhelmed - once you cross something off, it gives you a sense of achievement.
posted by heyjude at 6:15 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Focus on process and worry less about product, or outcomes. I find that enjoying the process of doing an important and/or large-scale thing is increased immensely when I focus on the doing of the thing rather than the finished thing I'm working toward. Wash the dishes to wash the dishes, in Zen phrasing, rather than to get them clean.

As an illustration, in my work (musical performance), rehearsals can get tense and frustrating and all kinds of badness if I'm only focused on the upcoming performance. But when I view each rehearsal as a wonderful musical experience in itself--just one with no audience--and have fun with the process of discovering a piece and learning to play it well, the outcome I wanted in the first place happens anyway and I have a much more enjoyable time getting there. So one can be serious about what you're doing without doing it seriously.

Process can be delightful (i.e., fun, frustrating, joyful, disappointing, etc.), truly, when I'm not as relentlessly focused on outcomes. And the real bonus is that, in my experience, excellent processes produce excellent outcomes.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]

How do I take life less seriously?

By taking YOURSELF less seriously.
posted by three blind mice at 4:12 AM on January 18, 2013

I like the advice about process. What helped for me was building a life "process" that I trusted. I can have fun in the evenings, for example, because I know I have gotten everything done that I needed to for that day, and that tomorrow won't be a nightmare of catching up.

It might be worth mentioning that this is an ADHD sort of behavior. I am not diagnosing you, obviously, but one of the things that people with undiagnosed/untreated ADHD do is to get themselves hyped up about things to sort of naturally medicate themselves into being able to complete them. The clarity of focus that a healthy dose of adrenalin will give you is a delightful respite. You are SO amped up that you can't concentrate on anything else, and that feels freeing. However, this is ultimately destructive because a side effect of that hyper-focus is forgetting things and also stress. A life of constant crisis will burn you out.
posted by gjc at 5:09 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think you have it exactly, LooseFilter. I definitely tend to think about where I'm going and not where I am, and that hyperfocus on the product prevents me from enjoying what I'm doing. I practiced a bit last night and this was much more relaxing, but I was still productive!
posted by DoubleLune at 7:52 AM on January 18, 2013

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