“Why do I take everything so seriously? I want to be more easy-going with people. Everyone is always telling me to lighten up. It just seems hard, and I don’t know how to make it better. How do I stop caring so much about everything?”
This article is for people who want to be more easy-going and lighthearted around other people or stop being too serious in your relationship.
While there is a time and place for serious issues, learning how to be laid-back and less serious can boost your social confidence and strengthen your relationships with others. Let’s get into some skills you should know.
There is a misconception that easy-going people don’t get stressed. However, an easygoing person gets stressed just like everyone else — they just know how to cope with it productively.
It’s important to reflect on what exactly makes you feel uptight or anxious. Here are some common triggers:
- Social interactions
- Feeling out of control
- Fear of rejection
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Believing things need to be a certain way to be right
- Fear of bad things happening
Awareness of triggers is the first step towards change. On the top of a sheet of paper, write down, Reasons Why I Feel Uptight. Write down everything that comes to mind.
Do you notice any themes? Chances are, you’ll identify that most of your triggers are fear-based. You’re afraid of something terrible happening to you or the world.
If you constantly feel anxious about the future, it’s hard to be easy going and laid-back. If anything, people may perceive you as anxious, uptight, or overly rigid. The good news is that many strategies can help with chronic worry.
Choose a specific time and place designated for worrying. This strategy may sound ridiculous, but it can help shift the non-stop racing thoughts into more concentrated ones. When you experience worries outside of worry time, tell yourself that you will address it later.
Your worry time shouldn’t be longer than 10 minutes. You can start by scheduling one worry time a day. Over time, you may only need it every few days or weeks.
We often have limiting, negative thoughts that impact our self-esteem. They can also affect how we perceive others.
For example, you may see things in complete extremes, as “all good” or “all bad.” You might also assume the worst-case scenario will happen, even if you don’t have any evidence to prove that.
However, you can learn how to challenge these thoughts. For more on this topic, check out this guide by David Burns.
We often spend so much time worrying about things we can’t control. Worrying doesn’t solve the problem- if anything, it often makes it worse. Instead, commit to finding a mantra that reminds you to accept things beyond your control. Some examples include:
– ”I can learn how to cope regardless of what happens.”
– ”This is beyond my control.”
– ”I am choosing to focus on the present moment right now.”
– ”I am going to release this fear.”
– ”I trust that things will work out in the ways they need.”
Distraction can be an important part of self-care. Sometimes, we just need to get out of our own heads. Create a working list of healthy coping skills (exercise, journaling, reading a book, meditation, watching a TV show) that you can engage in when you feel anxious.
Fear can make us act too serious or uptight. Of course, staying aware of current events is important. However, if you’re always watching the news, your mental health might suffer.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that inundates us with 24/7 media. Most of us constantly interact with this media without realizing the true impact it has on our well-being.
To be more mindful of your news consumption, consider the following strategies:
For example, block out 10 minutes each morning and night to consume the news. Do your best to avoid any other engagement outside of these blocks.
In this day and age, you won’t miss super important news. If something life-threatening is happening, someone (or everyone) will be talking about it.
Don’t try to consume everything- this strategy often results in you feeling like you can never catch up. Instead, write down 2-4 sources that you like and trust. Commit to only consuming your news from these sources for at least one month.
Research shows that we spend almost 7 hours online each day. Many of us use the Internet aimlessly- we scroll through social media, read through various clickbait headlines, and lose entire hours watching videos. Commit to having at least one Internet-free day per week.
If you can’t commit to an entire day, try this exercise for an afternoon or an evening. At first, you may feel anxious or even empty. Those feelings are normal, but they can and will pass. You may even find yourself having much more time to pursue other interests.
It’s important to remember that it’s not bad to stay informed on current events. However, you need to practice moderation. Too much news can make you feel overly uptight, serious, anxious, or depressed.
You can find negative news anywhere you look. But there are many outlets that share positive news. For example, Good News Network shares uplifting articles every day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world, it may be worth reading into something more positive.
As morbid as it may sound, it’s helpful to remember that life is completely temporary. You are getting older every moment. At some point, everyone around you will die.
While these facts seem depressing, remembering your mortality can also be incredibly humbling. It reminds us that life isn’t that big of a deal- even if we think it is. Whatever you are obsessing about probably isn’t that important. Additionally, all those bad things we often worry about may never even happen.
This Vox interview talks more about the benefits of death awareness. Reflecting on your mortality can help you become more peaceful and easy-going.
On a smaller scale, it’s helpful to remind yourself of the rule of 7’s. Will this matter in seven minutes, seven months, or seven years? Each scenario will have a different answer, but it can help to categorize your worries using this method.
We’ve all heard the cliche of getting out of your comfort zone, but why is this mentality so important for learning how to lighten up?
If you’re always saying no to things, you might feel stagnant with your life. You may resent yourself or the people around you. Additionally, you may feel stuck in a cycle of depression or anxiety.
Easy going people enjoy life and seek out novel experiences. Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t you have to trek across the world with a backpack or skydive. Instead, you should embrace taking healthy risks.
Here are some ways to get out of your comfort zone:
Commit to novelty. For example, maybe you want to eat dinner alone somewhere. Maybe you want to sign up for a foreign language class. Write down your goal and set a one-month deadline to achieve it.
Many of us are creatures of habit. Sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone first means acclimating to small changes. For example, if you always drive one way to work, consider taking an alternative route. If you typically take showers in the evening, take one in the morning. Small changes reinforce the notion that change can be a great thing!
The next time someone invites you out, say yes. The more you can expose yourself to new situations- even if you sometimes feel uncomfortable- the more you expose yourself to growth and self-improvement.
After the social engagement, take some time to reflect. Write down two things that went well and two things you want to improve upon for the future.
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has revolutionized the way people perceive happiness. To summarize his research, he indicated that flow- which refers to total immersion in activities- can bring a tremendous sense of purpose and fulfillment.
The more we have purpose and fulfillment, the more joy and peace we tend to experience. As a result, we tend to be more easygoing with life- and happier with ourselves.
Here are some ways you can achieve a flow state:
- Engaging in creative arts.
- Playing with animals or children.
- Performing housework or projects around the home.
- Engaging activity.
His influential Ted Talk goes more into depth about the benefits of flow.
Is it bad to be a serious person? Of course not. Serious people can have meaningful relationships, and they often thrive in intense conversation. However, not everyone values such depth. It’s important to learn how to adapt to social cues and engage with a variety of people.
Remember that conversations aren’t just about learning or teaching new information. We have many other resources that can fulfill those needs.
Here are some ideas to consider:
Empathy is the glue maintaining healthy relationships. Some people naturally have more empathy than others, but you can learn to develop more of it with dedicated practice and effort. This guide by UC Davis provides the basic tips for building more empathy.
Socially intelligent people can read body language, maintain conversation, and engage with many different people. Check out our guide on this topic.
Active listening allows other people to feel heard and understood. When you do this, you give someone your full attention. This guide by Forbes provides a comprehensive overview of how to improve this skill.
Enjoying comedy isn’t just a nice break from reality. Laughter is a key part of mental health. Comedy can help overly serious people learn how to stop caring so much and loosen up with themselves.
There isn’t a right way to prioritize comedy into your routine. You can start by watching different improv shows or listening to funny podcasts. Find a few comedians or funny shows that you really enjoy and prioritize consuming their material.
Comedy doesn’t directly make you more easy-going. It’s not a quick fix for being more laid-back or less serious. However, with time, it may start feeling more second-nature to joke around or loosen up around others.
Many people think happiness is based on future events, like finding the right job or relationship. As a result, they spend most of their lives discontent and waiting for something to happen.
Although happiness is a feeling (which means that it isn’t a permanent state), you can develop a mindset focused on gratitude and joy. These emotions naturally lend a hand to being more laid-back, carefree, and easy-going.
Although this may sound obvious, you may be surrounding yourself with toxic energy. As a general rule of thumb, if you consistently feel worse after spending time with a particular person, it’s a sign that they might be draining you.
The cliche fake-it-til-you-make-it has some benefits. Research has suggested that forcing participants to engage in fake smiles can boost their moods just as much as people who genuinely smile. Of course, this doesn’t mean ignoring your emotions if you’re feeling upset or angry. It simply means being deliberate and saying to yourself in saying, I am going to be happy right now.
Set alarms on your phone to alert you three times a day to remind you of your gratitude. When your alarm goes off, reflect on exactly what you’re grateful for in the moment. This exercise shouldn’t take you any longer than 10-15 seconds, but it can have a profound impact on how you perceive your daily routine.
When you take care of your physical health, you tend to be happier. Exercise is especially important. Research shows that physically active people feel just as happy as inactive people who earn $25,000 more per year. Commit to exercising for at least 30 minutes 3-5 times per week.
Remember this: the happier you feel, the easier life tends to be. But happiness is a choice. You need to choose to embrace it.
We are products of the people we surround ourselves with.
Think about the friends that you have. Are they also equally serious? Or do you have some who are naturally more easy-going and fun?
If you do have easy-going friends, try to spend more time with them. Just like negative energy can rub off on people, positive energy can as well!
If you’re insecure, you might feel more uptight and serious. You may be afraid to relax because you are afraid of letting your guard down. See our guide for more tips on how to be less uptight.
What triggers you to start thinking negatively about yourself? Do you notice it when you spend time with certain people? What about when you are in specific environments?
Create a working list of these triggers. You need to recognize them if you want to change your responses.
Every time you are faced with a situation, you have the power to choose your reaction. You can’t necessarily help how you feel, but you can decide what you do with that feeling.
Keep reminding yourself that you can choose to be relaxed and calm. You can choose to live in the moment and not let the stress affect you.
This mental shift takes time and practice. It probably won’t work right away, and that’s because it’s unrealistic to change years of rigid thinking overnight. If you find yourself slipping back into old behaviors or ways of thinking, try to be patient. You are a work-in-progress!
Keep at it. The more you can remind yourself that you have control over your next move, the more empowered you may start to feel.