A Serious Case of Seriousitis

How to cure one of the most prevalent diseases of our time.

Originally Published in The Startup

Photo by  Evgeny Nelmin

Photo by Evgeny Nelmin

Are you struggling with seriousitis?

A common side-effect of the human condition, this ailment often goes undiagnosed by even the best of medical practitioners. In fact, many even suffer themselves!

Some tell tale signs of suffering?

Constant worry, an unfriendly relationship with uncertainty, hyper focus on others’ perceptions of you, the fear of being wrong, and a general inability to take a joke.

Other manifestations?

Unnecessary stress, a degraded relationship to self and others, as well as a general lack of enjoyment in life.

I’m well versed in the art taking life too seriously.

My immune system still hasn’t quite managed to condition itself to fight off seriousitis; I can often be found with a furrowed brow and a look that says “I’m constipated”, even in the most light-hearted of situations.

Fortunately, I’ve found ways to cope with this prevalent condition, and hope the ones I cover here are helpful to you.

Remember That Most of Your Thoughts Aren’t True

Reality and perception are two entirely different things, and the latter is heavily influenced by the shockingly high volume of thoughts that rattle around our heads faster than we can blink.

Most of these concepts aren’t true, but we often believe many of our thoughts which can then create a serious case of seriousitis.

Learning to observe, whether through meditation or ssome other means, the movie thats playing in our minds can help us laugh at the absurdity of these notions.

…And That You’re Going to Die

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

Steve Jobs

The more practiced I’ve gotten at reminding myself of my own, potentially imminent demose, the more I’m convinced that I might as well have a good time while I’m here.

The seriousness with which I approach work, relationships, and even the smallest of things is put into perspective when I remember my time is finite.

Be Weird

Photo by  Braydon Anderson

It’s really damn hard to take life seriously when we allow ourselves to tap into the goofiness that the world could use more of.

I encourage you to mess up your hair, make some strange noises, and get weird.

Strike a goofy pose in the mirror, take an unflattering selfie, roll around on the grass making monster noises…whatever brings out your wonderful weirdness.

Do More of What Brings You Joy

Find, or remember, the things that bring you joy.

For me, two of my go to’s when I catch myself falling into seriousitis are playing tennis or guitar.

I find a hell of a lot of joy in something as simple as hitting a ball back and forth over a net.

Prioritizing these things as acts of self-care, instead of just luxuries, is a sure-fire way to improve our quality of life.

…Play!

To this end, play is so important, and it’s worth asking: when did you stop playing?

If I’m feeling too serious I often crawl, jump, bounce and dance until I remember that the beautiful little kid within me is still here.

Make More Jokes

“Laughter is wine for the soul… the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.”

Sean O’Casey

Photo by  Priscila Batista

When I’m taking things too seriously, there’s often a notable lack of laughter in my life.

Making a conscious commitment to find more humor in day-to-day events, problems, and interactions brings more humor into my field and helps to wash away the seriousness.

Smiling, even when you’re sad, can actually trick your brain into happiness. So turn that frown upside down!

Make Mistakes

“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.”

Nikki Giovanni

Reacting to mistakes with from a place of gratitude and recognition of the opportunity to learn addresses a common side effect of seriositis: worrying about the little things.

What’s more is that the fear of making a mistake is soooo much worse than actually making one.

And, if you’ve made a mistake that you were worrying about obsessively, you’re still alive and kicking with the opportunity to be better for it.

So Take Responsibility for Your Reality

We have the capacity to shift our perspective immediately, making a decision in each moment about how we make sense of the world around us.

How we think about and interpret our lives determines how we see, feel, and react to the events that we face.

We are entirely responsible for our realities: our thoughts, our perceptions…our everything.

When we start to question our conditioning to be so serious, it’s not uncommon to come to the realization that we’re doing so simply because we’ve been led to believe we should…being or acting in certain ways because that’s just how everyone else does it.

This Doesn’t Mean We Don’t Work Hard

But work doesn’t have to be so serious. Can you allow for the possibility that there is room for fun and joy in activities that we’ve come to associate with the opposite?

I won’t say this isn’t more difficult if you’re responsible for, as an example, hundreds of employees or millions of dollars in a corporate setting.

But the ability and opportunity to lighten up and enjoy the process still exists.

Ponder How Little We Know

We can find meaning in the meaninglessness of our situation, achieving liberation from seriousitis simply by considering all the things that we’ll never have answers to.

The absurdity of time, the infinitude of the universe, and the potential existence of other planets, races, galaxies, even realities…

Joe Rogan has an awesome video that speaks to this idea, which is liberating in many ways, not the least of which is…

Remembering How Quickly Things Change

“Everything changes but change”.

Israel Zangwill

Things change pretty damn fast.

From physical sensations, to thoughts, to desires, to our physiology.

Remembering that our thoughts, feelings, and emotions can pivot in the blink of an eye helps to cure seriousness if its where your focus currently lies.

We’re Not the Center of the Universe

Photo by  Greg Rakozy

Photo by Greg Rakozy

There is no one else like you.

No one with your unique experiences, talents, perspectives, or ways of being.

But you’re not at the center of the universe. Neither am I (as much as I often hate to admit).

I spend a hell of a lot of time doing, worrying, and acting for others, before remembering again and again that everyone is often too busy and concerned with their own problems to give half a damn.

Realizing that everyone is going through very similar difficulties, challenges, and experiences is something I find to be very comforting.

And the idea that I’m not the center of the universe lifts off a hell of a lot of the self inflicted pressure to be perfect that I’ve let myself fall into.

So, are you open to the possibility that, even in this very moment, you don’t have to be so serious?

Smile. Give yourself a hug. Put that goofy face on.

I’m doing it now, because the advice I give is often the same that I need to receive.

Thanks for reading!