Stop Taking Life So Damn Seriously
You can live a good life without drowning in anxiety
We’re all made to believe that life needs to be taken seriously
And if we don’t, then terrible things would probably happen, things that would make this life difficult and unbearable.
- If we don’t get educated, then we’re going to live 10 steps behind everyone else
- If we don’t get a good job, then we’re going to live a low-class life
- If we don’t build relationships and a family then we’re going to be lonely for the rest of our lives
Well, there’s nothing really wrong with wanting to do some of these things with our lives, but the pressure we get from friends, family and society makes these things seem sort of repulsive and often forces us to take life much more seriously than we should.
And what happens when you have to take something seriously? There’s anxiety, there’s fear, and a bunch of other things that can leave you filled with constant suffering.
Here’s an example: when I was at university and was told that we were going to write a test in 2 weeks time, there was this anxiety that would take me. I would try to ease it a bit by asking my lecturer for the test’s scope, but that didn’t help, in fact, it often made things worse.
So, to make sure I understood everything, those 2 weeks were hellish. I wouldn’t speak much to anyone. I would be in a bubble. I would go through a cycle of anxiety, confidence, fear and back to anxiety again until the test was over. Only then would my life feel good again.
This is a cycle that’s often accepted by many of us because we know it gets things done.
But there’s something so strange about this
Like the story of my test, we’re all told that life needs to be taken seriously. We’re given various timelines that will take us into retirement and then only can life be good, then only can life be peaceful.
But how does this make sense? Does this mean that our lives will be filled with anxiety until we get to that point? Should we accept this as normal just because it gets things done? Is that what life is all about I don’t know, hey.
And this may seem a bit dark, but people don’t do too well with these cycles of anxiety either.
- I live in a place in the world where innocent high school students(who know so little about life) take their schooling so seriously that they decide to take their own lives because they failed high school or didn’t get the grades they wanted.
- I see people hating their marriage and their lives because they threw themselves deep in debt just so that they can have a flashy wedding.
- I see people get addicted to short-term pleasures because the pressure to live life is just too much.
It’s sad how far we can push one another.
And I know that suffering is inevitable, I know that we’re going to feel anxiety at times, I am not disagreeing with that, but how we approach this suffering is still our choice, right? We still have the power to choose our own way.
So, I’ve recently come to see that there’s a better way to approach life
To be honest, I didn’t even question how seriously I took things, not until I started listening to Naval Ravikant. His work on YouTube and Twitter is quite something — it will make you question a lot of your beliefs…but that’s what art and philosophy are supposed to do.
So, some few months ago I heard him talk about looking at much of life as these games you play. You play the high-school game, you play the getting-in-a-relationship game, you play the making-money game.
Some games are infinite games, games that you play throughout your life, like the self-improvement game and meditation game.
But you play all of these games to grow, to level up and for many of them, you play them to eventually complete them and be free of them.
When I first read that I thought this doesn’t make sense, but the idea stuck to me like a magnet on a fridge. And the more I thought about it, the more I saw that I was already in it, that I’ve been playing these games all my life. I’ve finished up the high-school game, the university game, the getting-a-job game and now I have different games I am trying to play for myself.
I know this sounds a bit playful, but there’s something powerful here
After seeing all these different parts of life as games, that degree of seriousness slowly faded a bit and things seemed a lot more fun.
There’s still anxiety and fear, but there’s a healthy amount of it, enough to get you up every day and stay committed to the game that you’re playing.
Failure still hurts and success still feels good, but you sort of understand that until the game is over, those feelings are just temporary.
And one of my favorite parts is that you don’t attack your self-worth anymore because you’re not living up to expectations — you understand that it’s now your turn to play this game and you’re going to do the best that you can to find your own way through and complete it.
And you have to admit, this is quite an interesting perspective.
Because if you really think about it, we’re all in the middle of some game
Everyone is on their own timeline, as the popular saying goes, every one of us is doing what we feel is best for us — we’re playing the games we feel we need to play for ourselves.
But not all of us see that though, we often get so caught up in the game that we lose ourselves in what we’re facing and forget that we’re playing a game.
This is where the dark side of playing games comes in because it’s quite easy to get complacent at our current level and slowly live a life of quiet desperation. Or we could do something darker, we could go in the opposite direction and play games that hurt us in the long term.
- We could play the procrastination game and become quite good at it
- We could play the addiction game and get addicted to short-term pleasures
- We could emotional immaturity game and get really good at misunderstanding our emotions and hurting ourselves
It’s not difficult to get caught up playing games that work against us in the long term, games that slowly break us down and rob us of our value.
As you can see, it’s important to be aware of the games we’re playing, it’s important to be conscious of what we’re committing to so that we do not end up wasting our lives getting really good at hurting ourselves and others too.
Remember, your life will be defined by the games you play
Your life will be defined by the things you commit to and the things you accomplish.
As you read this now, you’re having your turn at this life, you’re in the middle of games that you’re playing (studies, work, relationships, and so on). And it will do you good to take a moment to evaluate the games you’re playing and ask yourself whether they’re really what you want to play.
If they are, then that’s good — see what you can do to level up and take one step closer to completing that game.
If they are not, then it is your moral obligation to find a way out and to find a game that you really want to play.
You may have to start from the beginning and work your way up, but that is okay — a good friend of mine once said that time is going to pass you by anyway, so instead of spending more time doing what you don’t want to do, you’d rather spend it doing something better for you.
And don’t feel bad because there’s no perfect blueprint for how to live a good life, we’re all trying to figure it out. I mean, we can learn from each other’s experiences, but at the end of it all, we have to find our own way.
So, the next time you feel yourself taking life too seriously, take a moment to look at it as a game you’re playing and ask yourself what you can do to level up — this will help you take one step closer to completing the game and one step closer towards a fulfilling life.
“Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Invest in your existence,