Is The Idea Of Living A Carefree Life Even Possible?
by Jananie Chandrarao |
Maybe what comes to mind when we say the word ‘carefree’ might be you on a beach, with a coconut drink in one hand and not a single thing in life to worry about. What the scenario represents is the understanding that a carefree life means that you technically don’t have anything to be bothered about or take responsibility for. Thus, the question arises if it’s ever possible to live a carefree life as humans who are part of a society and has duties to fulfil. I’m here to say that it is undoubtedly possible because what we have come to understand about living a carefree life is deeply flawed. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have no care in the world or responsibilities to carry out, but just that you live your life in a way that things that can pose as worry no longer take over and overwhelm you.
However, as simple as it sounds, we’re not exactly great at this because of the societal pressure that exists. We live in a society that generates further anxiety through normalising anxiety-inducing thought process where we worry about almost EVERYTHING. We have normalised even trivial things bothering us, causing us to believe there is nothing wrong doing so. The race to achieve, obtain and get somewhere all the time has left us constantly being on the edge.
1. Stop fretting about what others think
The root cause of the societal pressure generation is because of how consumed we are of the perception of others towards us. We worry if Uncle or Aunty wouldn’t like the fact that we chose Bachelor of Arts over Bachelor of Engineering. We worry if our colleagues might judge that you’re dating someone who doesn’t belong to the same race as you. Rather focusing on the fact that arts are truly your passion and the person you’re dating is amazing and makes you happy, we still care too much about the opinions of others. We need to be mindful about in what aspects of our lives we need to consider the opinions of others and in what aspects of our lives we should be prioritising our choices. When we are no longer preoccupied with worry regarding the judgements of other people towards us, it allows us to live a more authentic life without being chained to the expectations around us. It allows us to take on only the necessary responsibilities and not what is expected of us by others.
2. Letting go of the attachments to outcomes
Another reason you might be having a hard time to be carefree is that you’re too attached to the outcomes of your actions. When you’re too attached to having things turn up a certain way, you’re setting yourself to be downhearted. Sometimes yes, things do work out better than we thought and it makes us happy, but when it turns out not be what you consider as ‘successful’, you might just end up feeling defeated. Instead, just perform your responsibilities and focus on giving your best to everything at hand. Redefine your meaning of ‘success’ from being achievements to the learning process and experience. It helps you prioritise what you exactly want out of life and not what other people generally do. Taking away the expectations of the outcome allows you to live life on your own terms and avoid unnecessary worries.
3. Cognitive reappraisal
Cognitive reappraisal is a cognitive change where we alter negative emotions inducing thoughts in a way it impacts us less emotionally. For instance, a best friend who ignored your text messages and pushed you away maybe did that not because it had anything to do with you, but just them having a hard time. But most of the time, we just assume what the causes of others’ behaviour might have been without even letting them explain. When we shift our thoughts and view them from a different and positive light, the amount of worry that exist in our lives drastically reduces giving space for a more carefree attitude.
4. Focus on the now
If you pay close attention to your thought patterns, most of what you’re worrying either exist in the future or in the past. Maybe the argument you had with your father the other day still makes you feel agitated. Or the job prospects for you after you graduate might not be so great (a potential problem). However, worrying about that in no way helps. Instead of indulging in the repeated negative thinking about ‘what went wrong?’ or ‘what could go wrong?’ that will lead you to a downward spiral, redirect your attention to the now and think about what possible actions can you take to fix the problems. Have a non-judgemental stance where you’re not beating yourself up for past mistakes or your overthinking habits but see things as the way they are to find solutions.
Maybe you want to come up with an apology to make amends with your father or research on the extra skills you can possess to increase your chances of employability. The actions towards fixing what becomes the source of your worries give you much more hopes on solving them and be relieved of the same worries. Living a carefree life means knowing to choose our battles wisely as in the things that needs our care and energy at the moment, and not letting the ghosts of the past and the possible futures drain us of our energy through worrying. The only time we need to give the past and future our attention and energy is when we’re trying to solve or avoid the problems they pose.
5. Allow yourself to be flawed
The reality is we too are imposing the impossible standards of beauty and perfection on ourselves as much as society does. A tiny shift from how you’re expected to be or act can open a door to a tidal wave of self-criticisms. Honestly, we criticise ourselves more than anyone else, thus the famous quote, ‘we are our worst enemies’. But recently a friend sent me a post she came across in Reddit that says “if you ever feel bad about yourself just remember that if you were a fictional character, people would probably love you for all your flaws and quirks and mannerisms that you probably hate so much”. It makes no sense how we value the flaws in others and hope they see how amazing they are but refuse to do the same when it comes to us. Acceptance is truly liberating, in this case for a more carefree life where we stop forcing ourselves into labels and boxes and instead, be ourselves, unapologetically.
The misunderstanding of what carefree is has made us draw conclusions that it is something so rarely achieved like enlightenment. But carefree life exists in our actions and how we choose to see and interpret the external events of our lives. Through stop fretting of what others have to say about us, letting go of attachments to outcomes, cognitive reappraisal, the focus on the now and allowing ourselves to be the magnificent mess we are will certainly forge the pathway for a more carefree life.
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