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As INFPs, we tend to treat life very seriously. It is a natural aspect of our nature, stemming from our desire to live to our fullest potential with the one life that we are all too aware that we have.

However, as always, there needs to be a balance, or you’ll end up solemn, gloomy and depressed. The more seriously you take life, the more you embrace hard, cold reality rather than soul-nourishing ideals, and this can negatively affect your psychological well-being. We start to feel bad about ourselves. We start to take less risks, have less fun.

Though a dose of reality is good now and then, just remember: at your core, you are a dreamer, so make sure to leave some head space for fantastical possibilities rather than only focusing everyday obstacles, banalities and the nitty-gritty aspects of life.

In fact, in my experience, I’ve found that taking life too seriously (such as employing black and white thinking such as “I must achieve this, or I will be a failure and I’ll die without making my mark on the world, TRAGEDY”) can actually prevent us from, not only being happy, but achieving our dreams. We end up holding on to them too tightly, and dreams, being the cheeky, playful creatures they are, slip right out of our fingers.

So, without further ado (you’ll probably hear me using this phrase a lot throughout my posts; I’m very attached to it; it’s deliciously grand and dramatic, and conjures in my mind exciting pictures of a circus master lowering his hat to the audience to introduce the first act of prancing ponies), here are a few ways to stop taking life so seriously. INFP-style.

1. Realize reality is an illusion.

It is.

You can do a bit of philosophical searching on the net about this, but let me tell you: the world we see and inhabit really is nothing but an illusion. Reality is what we believe it to be. We’re all just vibrating atoms, when you come down to it. We can even only see colour only due to the varied wavelengths of light that strike surfaces!

Deep down, you know that there is so much more beyond what we see, and experience, and that our currently reality is only a flimsy film covering the greater whole. We’re but a small strand in a larger and unknowable web.

Seriously. Use your philosophical sensibilities to probe and understand this. If you fully come to terms with this fact, that it’s all just mirrors and smoke, and we’re a few worried little reflections, it will liberate you like nothing else can.

Because if it’s all just a dream, an illusion, why not lighten up a bit? Why not take a chance and get hurt, get rejected? You’re stronger than you think. Why not take risks, get that impractical English degree, laugh, have fun? You have nothing to lose. The world’s a stage, sing the best song you can and then exit it.

Shed that anxious, serious part of yourself that blows little events out of proportion (it’s not your fault: we’re imaginative and sensitive, which can be a pretty potent combination, and makes us natural worriers) and dance and make the dazzling reflections you want to see.

2. Remind yourself of your own mortality.

As INFPs, we’re good at reminding ourselves of our own mortality. The macabre tends to appeal to us. Yet even we slip up sometimes, and get caught in the whirlwind of everyday life during which the thought of our own imminent death is pushed to the back of our minds.

This is just a friendly reminder: you’re going to die.

You’re dying right now. You’re dying every second. And you’ve got a dream. Every INFP has one. You’ve got a dream, and you’ve got limited time. Now, rather than seeing this as pressure to make your mark upon the world before you perish, think of it this way: why treat life as a slog when you’re going to die anyway? Why not play, and have fun?

Dance your way to your dream, and you’ll enjoy the journey just as much as the end result. Lighten up. It’s just life. Life is an illusion, life is a dream, life is silly, and we’ll never understand it.

Listen: it’s okay.

3. Art is play.

Chances are, you engage in some sort of artistic outlet, whether it be painting, singing, designing, writing – the list goes on. Most likely, it’s writing, but, that’s irrelevant: what I’m trying to say is, you are naturally a creative being!

The creation of art is a compulsion of yours. And the thing you have to understand is that all good art comes from play. From love, and joy. Of course, art takes hard work, but what’s even more important is that you enjoy the act of creation. If you take life, and therefore your art, too seriously, then you stifle your creativity, and the art you create is bland, stilted, forced. You’re trying too hard to be good instead of giving up control and letting the goodness appear with the fun.

So let it all flow out of your fingertips from the rich brew of your subconscious. You can edit it later. Don’t be serious or grave about it, like a priest ordained by God to do a task: write, draw, play, have fun, live, love. Make beautiful stuff that will make you smile, and others too.

4. Trust the universe.

Now, hear me out on this one.

Maybe you don’t believe in destiny, and mystical powers beyond our comprehension, and will see this as a whole load of hogwash. But I want you to keep an open mind about what I’m going to tell you. I’m an atheist myself, but I believe this with all my heart.

If you are reading this on a computer, you are already one of the wealthy and lucky in the world. Millions would love to trade spots with you. Listen. Stop being so serious. Stop worrying about money. Stop worrying about careers. Stop worrying about bills. Forget about being safe and realistic. Unless you’re going to starve out on the streets, and the chances of that happening in a developed country are very low (there are services out there for the needy), cast away all your worldly concerns, and place them in the hands of the universe.

You’re not going to die. That’s all that matters. Sure, you might end up living in poverty and discomfort with this mindset, but we INFPs are good at handling that. Better to have a library to go to than a mansion with flashy pools and chandeliers, right?

And in the end, if you keep on plugging away at your dreams, and BELIEVING with all your heart, the universe will take care of you. The universe, if you put in the work, will make your dreams come true. It’s about trust. It’s about faith. I know it sounds rather religious, but it’s not. There’s so much we don’t see. So many forces at work (and not necessary that of the divine) that we are unaware of. Trust the universe. Trust yourself.

You won’t die if you’re too impractical to find a job right out of school. You don’t die if you are unemployed for years on end. Stop being so serious, relax and follow your heart, your loves, your joys.

5. Observe animals. Nature. Birds. Children.

Don’t you just love nature, and animals? Something about the quiet rustle of trees, woodland shadows, and pure, unrestrained creatures makes our hearts sing. We feel alive amongst nature. We feel alive when we look up at the expanse of the sky. So, do it more often.

And children. Watch them. I don’t recommend staring at them for extended periods of time in the vicinity of parents – that might come off as a bit unsettling. Observe them casually, maybe at a playground. Watch how your friend’s children, or your nieces, or your siblings live life: in the moment, playing, laughing and being happy. Do the look the slightest bit serious to you?

Watch sunsets. Watch the birds coast like tiny angels in the sky and realize how small and petty all our troubles are. We are part of something more than us, and the animals have got life right. Do you think a monkey spends days worrying about his desire to become an alpha male? No. He just eats when he’s hungry, sleeps when he’s tired, and fights other monkeys when the moment comes. You should do the same.

Live in the moment as much as possible. INFPs have a tendency to become enraptured by the future, yet living and appreciating the time we have now is one of the best ways for us to feel truly happy.

Feel the grand circle of life you belong to. Look. A bee. A pink, ruffled flower bobbing in the breeze. How beautiful. Dear God, how beautiful.

There’s no need to be serious.

Now get out there and play.