If there were competitions in life (or school) for taking life seriously, I would be one of the top all-time world champions. I’d have endless ribbons, trophies, and medals from my childhood and well into my 30’s. I have spent so much time and energy taking life seriously. So much more seriously than I ever needed to. While I know it helped me in some ways, I also know by the ulcers in my 20’s, that it also hurt me in other ways.
There’s something about becoming a parent that really breaks your control freak spirit though. The fact that I fell flat on my face trying to control how much my kids sleep, eat, or do anything has become a huge blessing in disguise. It’s brought me a hard won wisdom about the truth of things. Control is an illusion, and you’re wasting your time and energy when you try to win by control. In lots of ways, that’s incredibly freeing. But honestly, that wisdom is only something I remember and know when I sit down to write this, or after several glasses of wine and my kids are asleep.
The truth is, the pressure to balance demanding work commitments, school commitments, and be a kind of good parent, means that I still engage in the fruitless act of trying to control. So I plan and I take everything seriously, and I get upset when nothing goes my way. It’s still so easy to get lost in how serious life is. How shitty the world feels, how bad everything is.
As I’m crawling through “The Art of Possibility”, I stumbled onto the practice of Rule #6: Don’t take life so G_D damn seriously! It was a wonderful, and incredibly critical reminder, that life doesn’t have to be so serious. Possibility, inspiration, and good shit doesn’t come to you when you’re yelling at your entire family because the house is a mess. It comes when you can get over yourself, and add some humor about things into the situation. I make a point now to remind myself not to take things so seriously, when everything feels so hard, heavy, and serious. I can honestly say, that once I can add that small measure of humor, and let go a little, a possibility has always emerged. I like to think of it as the universe confirming that serious is stupid.
Related to this particular practice, is some incredible pearls of wisdom that RuPaul dropped in his masterclass that I want to share:
When things you thought were true, and turn out not to be… you can become angry, then cynical, then bitter and get stuck in the bitterness.
If you get stuck, you’ll miss the most important step: Don’t take it all too seriously!
Which is so so so so true when you think about it. I can remember one experience I had at work, where I worked incredibly hard. I put myself out there. Our company was failing, and our leadership team didn’t know how long we would make it. I took the reins and found a new way. I did the work. I put in the emotional labor. I saved our company with my ideas and execution of them. My boss took all of the credit. Our leadership team didn’t acknowledge my hard work, or my contributions. I was crushed, and I definitely became angry, cynical, and bitter. It wasn’t until I left that I could see that it was all an illusion. No one can ever take that success from me, even if I don’t get the credit. It’s my innovative spirit and will to execute that saved them, and I’ll always know that. My former boss can take all the credit he wants, but he’ll never be able to do what I can do. The universe acknowledged that when I found a new job, one with an incredible leadership team, and a place where I am seen and appreciated.
So, I’d ask you: What would be possible for you if you lightened up and took things less seriously? What if there was some humor there in place of judgement or frustration? Where does life feel particularly heavy right now, and what could be possible if you took it less seriously?