You’re Delirious If You Take Life Serious

You wouldn’t believe how seriously I took life until a few years ago. When I look back, it makes me laugh.

I remember getting upset about the smallest things.

A few years ago, when I started doing okay as a marketing consultant, I took myself way too seriously. I literally spent ALL my money on externals. I wore tailored suits, bought a big ass SUV with a V10 engine, and I had a Don Draper haircut. I was trying way too hard to be someone I’m not.

One time, I had lunch with a prospective client. He was a marketing director at a big company, and I wanted to work with them for a long time. I can’t remember what we had for starters, but I DO remember that I spilled it badly on my suit jacket.

It was pretty bad. Like, really bad. A big oil stain on my light gray suit jacket. Normally, you would say, “no big deal.”

But no — I HAD to obsess about that stain. The meeting went wrong because I stopped listening to the challenges that the client was sharing. I only had that stain on my mind, and how bad it looked. I fucked up the whole meeting.

All because I took the way I looked way too seriously. And I have dozens of stories like that. We often do things just for appearances.

“What do you do?”

The funny thing is that we do all kinds of things to get the approval of people we don’t even like.

The cars we drive, houses we live in, the jobs we have, the brands we buy, the things we say, the books we read.

We do all those things just to talk about it with other people. We love to have a good answer to, “what do you do?”

Parents push their kids not for the kids, but for their friends. Because when they ask, “what does your kid do?” Your parents need a good answer. Saying that your kid is just experimenting with life is not good enough.

We have this urge to show other people that we’ve got it all figured out. That we have life “under control.”

Why do people care about these external things? It’s a question that has been on the minds of many philosophers. Michel de Montaigne once said:

“Why do people respect the package rather than the man?”

I guess it’s a timeless issue. But does that mean you have to play the game many others play? No way.

Just live your life the way you want. And laugh as much as you can while you’re at it. Especially about yourself.

“How can I stop taking life seriously?”

The number one skill that helps you to live a merry life is to learn the art of self-banter. I.e learn how to make fun of yourself.

People who take life seriously always think they are different. They think they are cooler, smarter, better-looking, or whatever that separates them from the rest.

C’mon it’s just life. Don’t be so pretentious. And if you’re pretentious, you can’t make fun of yourself.

William James, my favorite American philosopher of all time, put it best:

“Success plus self-esteem equals pretensions.”

When people become more successful, they become more serious. But pretensions are the enemy of living a joyful life.

Get over your bravado, ego, pretensions, and understand that you’re only human.

How?

Taking life easy is a difficult skill to learn, but it’s still something you can learn. Even if you’re the most uptight person in the world who gets upset if I don’t use a coaster on your table, you can still learn to loosen up.

Here’s one thing we just have to remind ourselves of:

Everything in life is borrowed. You don’t own anything. Technically, not even your body.

“I guess that we’re all the same, trying to do the same things. There’s some irony in that, I guess.” Yes, there you go! Give yourself a break and stop taking everything so serious. Because it’s not.

Another idea: Stop being self-conscious.

Recently I was listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast. I can’t remember which episode it was, but Tim talked about how he deliberately practices not to take himself seriously.

He spoke of an exercise that he puts himself through. Now and then, he wears the most outrageous outfits to parties. And that makes most people frown. But that (unwanted) attention makes Tim less self-conscious.

I think that’s an excellent way to say, “fuck it, I don’t care what people think.”

We’re collectively obsessed with our self-image. It’s ridiculous how vain most people are. I’m also talking about myself. Now, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. However, it’s bad if vanity means EVERYTHING to you.

Who cares if your hair looks weird today, or that your stomach shows a little bit? Only YOU care. People with bad hair still get to live a good life. And so do people with a belly. It’s not that big of a deal.

If something upsets you, do something about it. Don’t feel bad about it.

And that, to me, is the essence of not taking life seriously. There’s honestly NOTHING that makes me feel bad, ashamed, or stupid about myself. I don’t care. Why would I? In a few decades, we’ll all be gone anyway.

So you might as well make it a few FUCKING AWESOME decades.

 

(source)

 

 

Thanks For Reading!

 

I’m Darius Foroux—an entrepreneur, author, and podcaster.

I publish weekly articles on overcoming procrastination, improving productivity, and achieving more. Never want to miss an article?

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11 comments

  1. You nail it.

    Thanks for that article. I love Tim Ferriss’ idea of wearing outrageous outfits to parties.

    In my part-time job I come across situations when I need to point out some rules to people. These rules may be stupid in some situations and people get annoyed and tell me not to give so many fucks. And I just try to do a good job. Do you have a tip how I can do my job and still don’t give too many fucks afterwards if people tell me off? Thanks.

    Another great article about this topic: The Subtle Art of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson (I bet you’ve read it).

    1. What’sup Jonas! Thanks for the support!

      If that’s part of your job, so be it. You’re doing your job. That’s a good thing. If people don’t get it, that’s their problem!

  2. Brilliant essay. I mostly enjoyed these parts “Everything in life is borrowed. You don’t own anything. Technically, not even your body” and “In a few decades, we’ll all be gone anyway.” I agree to enjoy yourself mostly in the present, and do things for yourself!

  3. I absolutely fucking love this! And I have always lived with this mind set. And I have had one hell of a good 38 years. It’s just recently I have started waking up in the middle of the night with this horrible anxiety of I’m wasting my life away… I haven’t accomplished much of anything. I don’t have any money. I am pretty happy but life has lead me down a path that doesn’t really make my soul shine like it used to. If I don’t have kids will I regret it? How do I start this business that I have dreamt of for a while now but have no clue where to begin? My parents are getting older, maybe I need to move closer to them? Blah blah blah blahhhhhh. I have never taken myself or life too seriously and always had a great time and lived very presently. I am now struggling with keeping this mindset and also setting myself up for a life of some money in the bank, doing my dream job and less anxiety that has just started becoming part of my everyday. Please help! I’m open to any advice you may have 🙂

    1. Hey Carrie! Thanks for sharing1 I believe in finding a balance. But at the same time, anxiety, stress, fear is not useful. And of course, money, career, etc is all important (but it’s not everything). So I would challenge you to let go of worry about stuff the might happen, and start focusing on the power of change. If you don’t like something about your life, change it! We all have the ability to decide. Decide that you can.

  4. Absolutely brilliant, Darius. I mostly live like this but have recently taken the leap to concentrate on my own business and leave a well paid, but pointless job. I have a little extra tension around me at the moment, but mostly too much going on in my head. This post and the one about multi-tasking were sent to me to read at just the right time. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Darius! You are so right. I’m making a big change very soon that I have been putting off for emotional reasons, I think I have letting myself obsess over things I cannot control because I want to avoid one big thing I can control but have stupid fear about. Does that make sense?! Thanks again!!!!

  5. I’m in senior school (or high school in America) and while this post’s ideas are totally applicable in adulthood, I’m wondering how to apply that advice in a school context.

    To be honest, I’ve never been an easygoing, thrill seeking, adventurous person. I am always stressed and anxious: an attitude which is often heightened by my school’s environment. I attend a private school in England which gets some of the best GCSE and A-Level results in the country. Everyone there is a leader, every pupil is set on a path with connections and support, toward a bright future in Law or in the Medical sector.
    It’s not like I don’t also have these advantages: my parents have the connections and the money that will put me at this same level: the problem, therefore, lies with me.

    It’s just that despite being desperate to do well in my GCSEs (which I will take in a year), my academic success is falling behind my peers and I’m sure I will fail if I can’t improve my grades. If I am to continue at my current school to sixth form, I must obtain 8 or more A*/A** grades, of the 10 exams I will take.

    I’m certain I sound like a privileged, ungrateful prick: but not taking life seriously is tough when competing with ‘friends’ (and their parents) for top grades, aware that failure would really really upset my family.

    I would love give less fucks, can you give me any advice?

    Thanks,

    Lexi (14) (Girl)

    1. Hey Lexi. You don’t necessarily have to give less fucks. I think that understanding that life is not infinite helps a lot. At the end, we all die, and nothing matters. So, does that mean we should get drunk every day and eat cookies? No. We must do our best every day, and accept what we can and can’t control. I would read Stoic philosophy to develop that thought. Start with A Manual For Living by Epictetus. And Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is also great. Let me know what you think after you’ve read those.

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