Serious is defined by Google as:
1. demanding or characterized by careful consideration or application.
2. acting or speaking sincerely and in earnest, rather than in a joking or half-hearted manner.
This piece explores the idea of Seriousness and the act of embracing seriousness, only to find that it’s not serious at all, by understanding that self-mockery is the warmest embrace.
To do this I’m going to employ the use of a created Hierarchy of Seriousness that will allow us to make some sense, and progress, of the entire exploration.
Uwe added the perspective that, Seriousness is a variable that changes with points of view, and it’s this perspective that we’ll use to reconstruct what it means to be serious, the possibility of being so in an Unserious way and the progress made when such a state of being is sought.
Let’s start by using Uwe’s example of a man whose job is to increase the sales within a luxury handbag business, while adopting a serious attitude towards the quality of such items, the public relations involved and the way he dresses. For the sake of developing new perspective, let’s also combine this with the Uwe’s follow up point and say that Mr. Luxury Bag-Man could benefit from expanding what he takes seriously to include the global issues of Climate Change and Overpopulation.
Once Mr. Luxury Bag-Man adjusts his perspective of what it means to be serious in relation to both the micro and macro he can create a new idea of seriousness — a view that his job is now both more serious and less at the same time AND that this newly created idea can be embraced because of the side effect it has on his ability to sell more bags.
If it’s not obvious, which I believe it isn’t, Mr. Luxury Bag-Man could possibly sell more bags if he changes the quality of his bags by adding environmentally friendly components to the manufacturing process (assuming he has control over this). This could improve the public relations he has as people become more aware, and conscious of the way they consume.
This is just one example, and probably not a very good one in my opinion (I’ve even changed the original example to make it fit but let’s not get stuck on that or I’ll never finish this article). You could even say that perhaps this conscious way of consuming could also have a trickle down effect making people consciously produce — ie not having 6 children when 2 is enough.
The main idea is that you can be serious while also not being serious while making serious progress. Looking at both the micro AND macro of your lives and the interconnected effects you have on everything around you you can begin to understand how most things are connected and the small details of your life can have huge effects.
The other example is vaccines and how parents ideologies can ultimately create/shape the world view of their children, and in the case of the 16 year, old lead to her death. Now you can draw correlations everywhere, and perhaps it’s a bit much to say her parents caused her death, it’s also ignorant to say they had no part in it. The world is changing and information is becoming increasing accessible so it’s a matter of taking in ALL relevant pieces of information.
I read an article recently about Ray Dalio who founded one of the world’s largest and best-performing hedge funds, and how he talked about the one mental hurdle you must overcome to reach your potential: Be Radically open-minded. “Recognize that decision making is a two-step process: First, take in all the relevant information, then decide.”. Dalio says it’s here that many [people]get tripped up. Most people are reluctant to consider information that is inconsistent with their worldview or the conclusion they’ve already arrived at.
So the Both/And way of looking at Seriousness gives us the ability to perceive the hierarchy of Seriousness, which, in turn allows us to make choices which are better for ourselves AND others. I think for me personally I’ve struggled to take things less seriously, but as soon as I do and am able to laugh at myself, I feel better. I think the ability to simultaneously hold both conflicting attitudes enables me to move more fluidly toward what I learn to be true, both about myself and the world outside.
This way of being is possibly the only way in which you can begin to develop your own sense of the Hierarchy of Seriousness. Through the passage of time, as pointed out by Uwe, we’re able to get a better handle and take in more information on what it means to be serious. Perhaps, only to discover that the seriously good parts of the journey where those spent laughing.
PS: Sorry about the lateness of this article, I had started it but then spent some time over seas and came back only to come down with the sniffles. Hope life’s treating you well :)