Life is a serious thing.  It’s full of ups and downs and twists and turns that sometimes make you feel like you are on a rollercoaster.  There are times that get us down and times that require greater focus but if you’ve ever been accused of taking life too seriously, perhaps it’s time to recognise the grave effects that that can have.  After all, having fun and enjoying life is not all about having fun and enjoying life, but it’s also about looking after your mental and physical health.  In fact, taking life too seriously inevitably leads to stress – and stress is a killer.  

“Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out of it alive” – Elbert Hubbard

Of course there are times when you can’t avoid stressful situations.  When faced with difficulties, the body releases stress hormones that allow you deal with perceived threats, giving you the energy to either fight or flee the scene – the ‘fight or flight’ response.  Once the threat is removed, hormone levels should return to normal.  However, when under continual stress, be it real or perceived, external or internal, hormone levels remain high and that causes symptoms of stress to become obvious.  

Stress can cause different reactions in different people, although there are some common signs of stress.  Problematic sleeping patterns, excess sweat, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, anxiety and low self-esteem, and aches and pains are all warning signs that the pressure is getting too much and that the body is struggling to cope.  If these weren’t bad enough, stress can lead to chest pains, colds and flu, anger, panic attacks, hair loss, muscle spasms, and stuttering.  To make matters even worse, extended periods of stress leads to a higher risk of heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated aging, and premature death.  With all that to fear, do you still want to take life so seriously?

“Life is far too important a thing ever to take seriously about” – Oscar Wilde

The risk of health problems caused by taking life too seriously is only one side of the coin.  It could almost be understandable if the pressure actually resulted in something positive but in the majority of cases, stress actually hampers rather than helps success.  After all, stress causes as many emotional changes as physical ones, causing anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, and panic attacks.  In addition, a lack of sleep and irritability may impede any attempts to ‘get ahead’ or ‘win the race’.  So whilst a little added pressure may help you get the job done, especially within strict deadlines, too much pressure will have the opposite effect – and may even set you back ever further.   

“Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous” – Vaclav Havel

And of course, no one can escape the fact that life is simply more fun when you don’t take it (or yourself, for that matter) too seriously.  Surely the thought of enjoying life and having fun is more appealing than being so serious and so stressful all the time?  Here are just some of the things that you rarely hear dying people say:

  • “I wish I hadn’t had so much fun”
  • “I wish I had worked more”
  • “I’m glad I didn’t spend more quality time with my loved ones”
  • “If I had my time over again, I would take things much more seriously”.  

“There is a certain happiness in being silly and ridiculous” – Anon

So naturally, there are times when you have to be serious and there are times when life will get you down but it’s important to remember to let the good times in too – for your mental wellbeing, your physical wellbeing, and for life itself.  Here are some ideas on how to not take life so seriously:

  • Take a step back and think about what is really important – family, friends, laughter. 
  • Learn to meditate and be mindful of the world around you.
  • Appreciate the little things in life – the feel of freshly laundered linen, the crunch of autumn leaves under your feet, the smell of freshly cut grass, being able to sleep in after a long week in work.  Whatever your favourite moments are – savour them.  
  • Be a child again – put on your rain boots and jump in the puddles, run your hand along the railing, walk along the wall or climb a tree.  
  • Watch a comedy and laugh with abandon.  
  • Play more games.
  • Go outside, let your worries slip away, and enjoy nature.  
  • Smile at strangers and talk to people.  
  • Write a bucket list – and start crossing things off it!

Most of all, remember what Hunter S. Thompson said: “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously”

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ARE YOU TAKING LIFE TOO SERIOUSLY? by UrbanSculpt Staff Writer Victoria Froud, MA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.UrbanSculpt.com.
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