Worrying all the time often leads to taking life too seriously. The first photographs of people taken in the late 1820s never showed them smiling. Some people reasoned that was because the picture took so long to be taken back then that people just couldn’t hold a smile that long; others thought that they just had hard lives at that time and lots of worries.
Some reasons people might take life too seriously are that they were pushed to achieve, and, as a result, didn’t have any room for play. Joking might even seem painful to such a person. However, sometimes the inability to laugh may prevent one from progressing, taking chances or thinking outside the box.
Sadhguru helps us look at how being too serious about life can become a hindrance, and he offers a viable solution.
Sadhguru: “It once happened… There was a Sufi master in Basra. You know Basra? Basra is a… that place which is famous for pearls today in Iraq or it’s famous for bombing, whichever way. So, someone came and said, ‘Please give me a teaching.’ He refused, ‘No teaching.’ Then more and more important people started coming to him and said, ‘Please give us a teaching.’ He said, ‘No teaching.’ Now because he refuses to teach, he became very famous. So, one day a great scholar in the area who is well-versed in all the scriptures and everything, he came and insisted, ‘You have to teach; you have something that no scholar can have. I am beginning to realize that. So, you have to teach; you cannot keep it to yourself.’
So, the Sufi master looked at him and said, ‘I am not giving a teaching to you, not because I am not willing, because you are not willing.’ The scholar said, ‘What are you saying I am not willing? I am here, I am asking you. I am the one who is asking you and you are saying I am not willing.’ ‘No, the teaching that I give, you will not be willing.’ He said, ‘What is the teaching?’ ‘Are you willing?’ ‘Anything, I am willing.’ So, the master went inside, brought a… a dirty looking piece of cloth and gave it to him and said, ‘Wear this as your loin cloth. You take off all your robes and nice clothes; wear this as your loin cloth.’ The scholar looked at this dirty piece of cloth, said, ‘What this?’ ‘Not just that; then I will give you an empty can with a string, wear it around your neck and I will give you a few sweets – peppermint, you go on the street to the market place. All the young boys will look at you and tease you and throw stones at you. Whoever throws a stone at you, take out a peppermint, grin at them and give them a peppermint.’ The scholar said, ‘This is ridiculous! What will happen to me in this town if I do such a ridiculous thing?’ ‘See, I told you, you’re not willing for the teaching,’ (Laughs) because the question is just this – do you want a teaching that you like or you do you want something that transforms you? That’s the question.
So now you’re asking this question – ‘I am dead serious’. So, the first and foremost thing is you must make yourself non-serious, which is not possible; so, the only way you can make yourself non-serious is to be ridiculous, you know? Can you do that? Can you get up and do a jig right now? Do it. (Questioner doing the jig) (Laughter, Clapping) No, you must do it the Indian way; the Indian jig; no, no you must do the Indian jig. (Questioner doing the jig) (Laughter, Clapping) So you see you’re getting little non-serious now, (Laughter) not dead at least, still serious, not dead. So just loosen up your life a little bit, laugh a little more, involve yourself with people around you, do things that you think is not so important; don’t do things which are very important, do simple things. It’s very important you do simple things. Very important things you’re doing in your life, you will become dead serious.
You know Bertrand Russell, an English man. (Laughs) Bertrand Russell said, ‘If you’re beginning to think that what you’re doing is very important, you need to take a holiday.’ So, holiday does not mean coming to India. (Laughter) Holiday is every day in those 24 hours, you must take a holiday from your seriousness. Seriousness has come essentially because of your self-importance. You hold yourself as an important person. I want you to see you are like a speck of dust in this existence. Tomorrow morning if you disappear, for sure in India nobody will miss you, even Down Under they won’t bother much, you know. A handful of people, they will also forget soon enough. Isn’t it so? Oof! Nature does oof, you are gone and nothing will happen in this world; everything will happen wonderfully well even if you’re not there. Every human being should be aware of this every moment of his life. It does not matter what the whole world says about you; it does not matter how significant a work you are doing, you must understand that tomorrow morning the world will go on fine without you, whoever you maybe. Isn’t it so? If you constantly remind yourself of this, you will have no reason to be serious (Laughs), definitely not dead. And don’t be dead now, a time will come. This’s time to be alive.”