In his wonderful book, The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer retells a story about the mysterious Rule #6. If you haven’t read this book, do so. I found a copy at the local library, or you can click on one of the books below on the right of this blog and order a copy for yourself on Amazon. It’s full of practical wisdom, or phronesis, to use my favorite PhD word.
Anyway, Rule #6 has to do with not taking ourselves soooooooooo seriously.
That doesn’t mean we’re not professional, we’re not authentic, or that we must be superficial. It simply means you don’t feel the weight of the world on your shoulders as your sole responsibility. It’s accepting that you do your part and trusting that the end result will be fine. And it will be.
Have you ever not been able to handle anything that life has thrown your way?
Have ever experienced anything so awful that not one single good thing came out of it?
Do you really think the outcome of the company/country/family/world hinges on all your worrying about it?
I didn’t think so.
People who don’t take themselves so seriously are a lot more fun to be around. I’m speaking as a card-carrying member of People-Who-Are-Too-Serious-About-Themselves Anonymous. I have two strong credentials:
My kindergarten teacher wrote to my mother that I was too concerned about my young brother. A textbook case of early-onset seriousness. At age 5, I felt full responsibility for my brother, apparently not trusting my parents to do their job properly. I am relieved to say that this brother has turned out well, despite his overbearing big sister.
Right out of college, I moved to Dallas and lived with a college friend, Ann. After a few months of sharing space, she was kind enough to take me out for drinks and tell me that in my early twenties, I was acting like I was 40 (imagine)! Too serious! Not fun! Thank you, Ann! Too bad it took me almost 20 years to understand what you were trying to tell me.
Having celebrated my 39th birthday several times by now, I can say I have reformed my ways, but it’s an ongoing struggle. Getting a PhD doesn’t really help, except when you’re surrounded by so much self-importance, you have to laugh about it.
As a reforming case taking myself too seriously, I can recommend the following tactics for dealing with this “serious” condition:
1. Have children. Your kids have a great way of putting things into proper perspective for you. Every day.
2. Adopt a puppy.
3. Stand on your head. You’ll probably have to lean against the wall. This new perspective can make you laugh.
4. Rent funny movies.
5. Hang out with fun and funny people. Be careful about spending too much time with excessively-self important people.
6. Get a job teaching children, it works similarly to tactic #1.
7. Don’t watch the news. It’s their job to make you worry.
8. Find something to be happy about now. If you can’t do this, go back to the top of the list.
Put laughing on your daily agenda. Seriously.