“I’d like to become more lighthearted and positive. What are some steps I can take to do this?”
“You’re so serious all the time.”
“You should smile more.”
“Lighten up, it’s not so bad!”
For many introverted men, these statements from others follow them throughout their lives.
If you always seem to be minding your business, going about your day as usual, and getting comments like…
“Relax, you look so tense!”
…today’s post is for you.
- training yourself to smile and laugh even if those reactions don’t come naturally to you,
- learning to let go of your control over the small things, and
- bringing positive energy into your interactions with other people, which creates a positive feedback loop.
First, though, let’s talk about why you would want to become more lighthearted in the first place.
Why is it a worthwhile pursuit to become more lighthearted?
While taking things seriously is great when it comes to your responsibilities, it’s not always the most fun or attractive way to live the rest of your life.
The reality is, whether you feel it on the inside or not, feedback from others (such as the comments above) tells you that you’re projecting a serious, perhaps even somber or angry image into the world.
Some people are fine with that!
However, you might find that being so serious all the time conveys emotions like disinterest, sadness, and other things that don’t exactly attract people to you. You can imagine how this can impact your dating experiences and social life!
Lighthearted people, on the other hand, are often thought of as more attractive, fun, and vibrant than people who always seem serious.
You may also have a tougher time dealing with frustrations and life setbacks if you don’t naturally see the silver linings to things.
Learning to let go and accept that not everything has to impact your life with such gravity can go a long way toward boosting your emotional strength and resilience when things get tough.
Now, let’s dive in!
First, practice smiling and laughing.
Smiling and laughing might seem like silly things to have to practice. Don’t humans naturally react this way when a situation is humorous?
Well, yes and no.
While some people are easy to amuse and tend to burst into laughter at the slightest impetus, others seem to rarely smile even when they’re actually really enjoying themselves.
If you skew toward the serious side, you’re likely not someone who smiles and laughs easily.
Perhaps it’s because you’re uncomfortable showing your emotional reactions, or maybe it’s simply that you’re very introverted and it doesn’t occur to you that you have to show others what you are feeling.
Regardless, this is where practicing comes in.
You can train yourself to become more lighthearted and comfortable with smiling and laughing around others once you get the hang of doing it by yourself.
Let yourself fully enjoy happy feelings and show it in a safe place…
- in the mirror,
- in your car when you’re alone, or
- sitting on the couch watching a funny movie.
It doesn’t matter when, where, or why you smile and laugh; it just matters that you let yourself see things in a way that delights you, makes you happy, or tickles you on a regular basis.
Here’s why it’s helpful to practice laughing:
- Smiling and laughing make you happy.
- When you’re happy, you laugh and smile more naturally.
- When you laugh and smile more naturally, you’ll have an easier time showing that side of yourself to others.
This is a huge step you can take to become more lighthearted. If you can only complete one step within this whole post, choose this one.
So if something funny happens and your default reaction is to smirk a little or exhale quickly instead of full-on laughing, see if you can replace that with a broad smile or a heartfelt laugh.
Practice everything from a shy giggle to a great big belly laugh that makes your eyes tear up.
We can almost guarantee that by the time you’ve done this a few times you’ll be laughing naturally without even thinking about it. Even if at first you’re only laughing at how silly you feel, it still totally counts.
The feel-good brain chemicals will start to flow and you will likely notice you’re suddenly in a much better mood.
It’s a big, happy, positive, upward spiral of goodness!
Let go of some control.
For many people, “seriousness” as a personality trait stems from a need to control things.
If you feel like it’s very important that a certain thing happens in a certain way, you’re unlikely to relax about it and see the funny side if that particular thing goes wrong.
However, not everything needs to be under your control.
Many serious people fall into a controlling mindset purely out of habit. It’s natural, when you think about it from the viewpoint of a responsible adult:
- You must pay the bills on time.
- You must be on time to work.
- And you must make sure your clothes are clean and ready to go for the morning.
- You must…
The list can go on forever.
And indeed, these are good habits that you absolutely should keep. Control over important aspects of your life is valuable, certainly.
The problem arises when that need for control spills over into every part of your life, even the ones reserved for lightheartedness and relaxation.
Everyone needs to have some areas of their lives that aren’t governed by the word “must” or “should.”
Let’s briefly talk about leisure time.
If you find yourself unable to relax and enjoy leisure time because of things you feel you should be doing or should be feeling, it’s time to let go of the reins for a while.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
You’re enjoying a lovely Saturday out in the sun, getting some physical activity on the tennis courts. On paper, everything is perfect. However, in your mind, the waters are troubled.
You keep having thoughts like…
“I should be having more fun playing tennis.”
“Am I positive this is the best use of my time?”
“I can’t relax. I have too much to get done at work.”
“There are four deadlines due on Wednesday this week.”
“I should be enjoying myself more because this is my time to relax.”
“…but maybe I should work an extra day this weekend again like I have been for the past month…”
Some of you reading this might think that’s an extreme example, while others will relate.
If you find yourself in that mindset even a little bit, then great news! There is room for more lightheartedness in your life, and you can absolutely make that shift if you want to.
How can you learn to let go of this need to micromanage your minutes, even during your leisure time?>
One good way to practice mentally letting go of stress and responsibilities is to visualize yourself physically letting go of an object.
Try this meditation exercise:
Imagine you’re holding on to a rubber ball.
You’re gripping it so tightly your knuckles are white and the muscles in your hands are starting to feel sore. You can see the tendons and blood vessels in your wrists popping out with the effort.
Now, imagine slowly loosening your grip on the ball.
The blood starts flowing gradually back into your fingers. It tingles a little.
The tendons relax, and your muscles feel relief.
You were gripping so tightly that your hand stays in the cupped position even after you’ve let go of the ball entirely. Shake your hand out and get the blood flowing until everything feels loosened up.
Visualize “letting go” as many times as you need to until you feel your mind loosening its grip on the stress you’re feeling. Let calming thoughts replace the “must” and “should” sentences.
Yes, you have some work to get done before Wednesday. But it’s only Saturday, and you will have plenty of time once the work week starts.
It’s safe to clear your mind and enjoy yourself for a while.
There’s a verse that says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.”
Here are some more general ideas to practice letting go of control in your daily life.
It might feel scary to not be in control all the time. If so, it’s okay to start small.
If a particular decision will not impact your life in any way by tomorrow, you can let yourself feel safe relaxing your grip on the choice. For inconsequential things, you can let them happen as they happen.
If your coworkers are ordering in lunch and they ask if you want anything, say “Sure, surprise me…”
…instead of “I’ll have a salad, extra chicken, dressing on the side, with tomato.”
When you get your lunch, eat it slowly and savor whatever it turns out to be.
Take an unfamiliar route during your commute home.
Resist the urge to use maps to find your way.
You might take a few wrong turns, and it might take an extra fifteen minutes to get to your destination, but that doesn’t really matter.
Maybe you’ll find something cool you never knew was just a few blocks away.
Take a class on meditation (or find a helpful YouTube video).
Sometimes, having an expert guide you through relaxing your mind and releasing your thoughts can clear away more mental clutter than you expect.
A relaxed mind has more room for peace, tranquility, and contentment. There’s no need to be serious right now, because there’s nothing at all going on that you need to be focused on.
You can become more lighthearted simply by appreciating the absence of burdens.
If something goes wrong and interrupts your strictly scheduled routine, see if you can laugh about it.
Imagine you’re going about your work day as usual when suddenly you’re hit with a bunch of frustrating setbacks.
You break your pen and ink flows all over the paper, the office printer jams, and your computer crashes all in the space of about ten minutes. (!)
Even if you’re feeling frustrated and exasperated by the setbacks, see if you can express that in one of the big, stress-relieving laughs you’ve been practicing in Step 1.
You can short-circuit the setback-frustration cycle before it gets going.
This can be especially helpful if you’re having one of those days where everything seems to go wrong, almost comically so.
If you’re going to be laughing about the absurdity of your day later, you might as well skip the tension and go directly to the laughing part now.
Create happy surprises for others.
Surely you’re not serious all the time.
So when you find yourself already in a bit of a lighthearted mood, generously bring others into it with you.
You might be thinking…
“I’m too shy to show that side of myself to others. They never see that side of me, so it would feel weird to suddenly start cracking jokes out of nowhere.”
Well, that’s why this section is about doing something surprising.
Surprises, by nature, elicit strong emotional reactions from people simply because they are completely unexpected.
If you already know the punch line of a joke, it’s much less funny than the first time you heard it.
If you unexpectedly get a personalized card on Valentine’s Day when you didn’t know you had a secret admirer, that carries far more intrigue than if your neighbor gives you a heads up by saying “Hey, check your mail later. I sent you a card.”
Happy surprises get positive reactions from others, which sparks a positive cycle.
What kind of happy surprises are we talking about?
Feel free to use your creativity here, or try some of these ideas:
You’re such a serious person that no one would ever expect you to…
- text a compliment to each person in your ten most recent text conversations,
- rock a full-on Santa beard at your office Christmas party,
- start singing (or dancing!) along when a song comes on the radio,
- send a handwritten letter to a loved one telling them why you appreciate them,
- smile at total strangers on the street when you have an opportunity to make eye contact, or
- send a personalized card to your secret crush on Valentine’s Day!
When you do things like this, you bring positivity into other people’s lives.
Not only will they be more likely to return the favor to you, but you can also feed off of your own positivity and get a boost out of making others happy. It’s a win for everyone involved, and it can infuse happiness into so many (otherwise serious or boring) dynamics.
As a bonus, when you receive positive reactions when you do things like smiling at strangers or showing appreciation to someone, you get a natural confidence boost that helps you keep practicing those positive habits in the future. You’ll become more lighthearted almost automatically!
Conclusion on how to become more lighthearted:
Now you understand why it’s worthwhile to become more lighthearted, and hopefully you’re practicing the steps to get there!
Today we talked about…
- getting into the habit of smiling and laughing by practicing when you’re by yourself,
- relaxing and realizing that you can let go of the need to control every tiny aspect of your day, and
- surprising others with happy, loving gestures that create a cycle of positive interactions.
Sometimes, introverted guys tend toward being serious in social interactions because they’re nervous about letting go and showing their relaxed side. If that’s the reason you want to become more lighthearted, download our free ebook, “Why PUA Doesn’t Work for Introverts & What Works Instead,” for tons of great tips on understanding yourself better and thereby boosting your confidence in social situations.
If you ever find yourself with a particular issue you’d like custom help with, consider joining our Launch Your Dating Life program. Apply here for a 1:1 phone call where we can see if this personalized program is right for you!