If you've ever been told to lighten up then you'll probably know that it normally has the precise opposite effect on your mood. If you're being told to lighten up then it tends to imply that you are not currently 'light' and that the person you are speaking to finds your current mood unpleasant; being told that is certainly unlikely to fill you with the joys of spring.
That said it's also something worth taking on board if there's truth in what they say, as taking things too seriously can make life more difficult in a number of ways. Not only does it mean that you'll be likely to get hit harder by bad news and ideas, but it can also make you a target for teasing and make other people less likely to want to spend time with you. No one likes a sour puss and if you can't seem to take a joke or roll with the punches then people won't be as inclined to spend time with you – unless it's to test how far you can be pushed.
So once you've calmed down, here's how to start taking things less seriously. The next time somebody tells you to lighten up, you may just laugh with them.
Watch More Comedies
This might seem like a pointless pursuit, but comedies are great for showing us how things constantly going wrong or not going our way can actually be amusing rather than tragic. If you watch enough comedies and can learn to laugh at other people slipping up on banana skins, then there's a higher chance you'll be able to laugh when you slip up on one. If your idea of unwinding is currently to read the Financial Times, then this might offer a little insight into what's going wrong for you... You just need a little more levity in your life!
Learn to Laugh it Off
Now you should start practicing taking this more light-hearted approach to your own life by laughing off the little things that go wrong and the comments that people make which you don't necessarily like. Next time someone says you have a big nose, rather than getting upset or getting defensive, just make a joke of it. You'll end up looking more confident and less insecure as a result and you'll find that people are less likely to tease you in future. Usually teasing starts off affectionately, so recognize this and play along with the joke.
The same goes for when you lose your keys and are late to work. While this might be a bit frustrating, and while it might possibly get you into a bit of trouble with your manager, the point is that there's nothing you can do about it at this point and so there's no point in sulking. You can't change it, so make a conscious effort to get over it and to find humour in the situation.
Lose Your Creature Comforts
Another way to lighten up is to go on the kind of holiday you would normally avoid. That means a holiday where you haven't booked any accommodation prior to leaving, where you go on nights out and chat to lots of strangers and where you travel long distances without much of a plan. This can be a great way to lighten up as it takes you out of your comfort zone and away from your creature comforts and shows that you can still survive. Suddenly you realise it doesn't matter quite that much when your clothes aren't ironed or your plans fall through.
Assess Your Priorities
If you're the kind of person who worries about every little thing going wrong, then it might be that you don't have your priorities straight. If this describes you then it sounds like everything is a priority to you and that can get rather tiring.
To prevent this being the case then, sit down and think about the things that really matter to you and the things that are important in life. That probably includes your health and happiness, the well-being of your family, and the personal life goals you've set for yourself. Sure it's annoying if you get caught in the rain, but ask yourself: does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?
'What's the Worst That Can Happen?'
Often it's not things going wrong that gets people uptight, but rather the thought of them going wrong. In other words, everything will be going just fine but you'll be tense anyway because there's an outside chance that it may not stay that way. Or you may even refuse to do something at all for the fear of all the ways it could backfire.
A solution then is to play out that worst case scenario in your head and to show yourself that it really wouldn't be all that bad and that you'd manage to survive. So let's say you're dubious about going on a holiday because things could go wrong. Ask yourself: what could actually happen that's so bad? Worst case scenario is that you could end up stranded in the middle of nowhere without any of your things and miss your plane back. But then chances are you wouldn't take anything that valuable with you on holiday in the first place so that doesn't matter and your boss is hardly going to fire you if it's not your fault. In fact, all this is really is an opportunity for a great story. If you imagine yourself telling it back to your friends later down the pub you can start to see the funny side and find ways to make the best of the situation. You've got to laugh!