3 Reasons and 3 Ways to Lighten Up

Jumping for joy

“Over-seriousness is a warning sign for mediocrity and bureaucratic thinking. People who are seriously committed to mastery and high performance are secure enough to lighten up.” ~Michael J. Gelb

This is an open invitation to you my readers and friends to join me.  It’s going to be a light, short post to get us all started.  If you do one thing only that’s fine—as long as you feel lighter.

Why do we need to lighten up?

If you struggle with any or all of the following issues, it is time to do things differently.

1. Feeling overwhelmed

You’re buried under heavy load of responsibilities. There is so much to do and so little time. You complete one task only to add two or three. There are countless projects, family obligations and social commitments.

Having too much to do comes with a hefty price tag. Your have too much to think and worry about which means more stress and anxiety.

Wouldn’t it be nice to feel more at ease? To be more at peace and in harmony with life?

2. Not getting meaningful results

In spite your best efforts, your results are mediocre at best. You try to do as much as possible but you do it half heartedly and it shows in your results. If you do one thing to your satisfaction, a few other things get completely ignored.

When you lighten up you get better and more effective results with less effort.

3. Nothing is fun anymore

Everything you do is a struggle, including the projects that you’re passionate about. You take everything too seriously adding more stress to your life. You pause and wonder: This used to be fun.

Let’s bring back the fun and magic of every experience.

3 ways to lighten up

There are so many things you can do to be more at ease in your life. I will focus here on the most important three. The rest can follow.

1. Harness the power of no

The most important thing you can do is to say no to any new commitments. If you feel you want to take on a new responsibility, then give up something else.

Don’t be afraid to do things differently. Focus on what works for you and keep with your own pace—not others’.

This is the first step. You can’t feel lighter when you’re under attack by never-ending demands that you take too seriously. Skills that can help you in this process are prioritization, organization and an effective work process.

2. Do less and less

This is something I’m working on right now and would love for you to do the same. It’s a challenge but it’s worth it.

Keep trimming your tasks list to the most important or joyful things that matter to you. It’s in this phase that you start achieving magnificent results because your effort is concentrated into fewer tasks and projects.

The time you spend with your loved ones is more meaningful and relaxed. You have nothing better to do other than be with them.

As you get more comfortable and in control, add more things if you wish. But find your threshold and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to go into overload mode again.

Skills that can help you with this: focus, presence and taking effective action.

3. Rediscover joy in what you do

Notice that I said what you do and not what results you get. Focus on the doing and the feelings that come with it. Enjoy the ride.

Now my friends this part is an art and we all were masters at it when we were children. Find that inner child and let him/her reign.

This step requires more of a mindset than skills. Allow yourself to take breaks and do nothing. Practice true mindful living, paying attention—explore the wonders of life in the smallest of things. Smile, play and love. All you need is a light heart and a willing spirit.

“Man, unlike the animal, has never learned that the sole purpose of life is to enjoy it.” ~Samuel Butler

When you live with joy, your light starts to shine brighter—in effect, you lighten up.


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