Change Your Story, Improve Your Life

What do you tell yourself and others about your life? Do you paint a picture of your life as happy and optimistic or as somber and sad?

It’s not what happens to us in this life but it is what we do with and about what happens to us in this life. Life is not fair. Never has been. Never will be. That’s just the way it is. So if you don’t like the hand that you’ve been dealt you have a right to complain all you want but that won’t change circumstances and it won’t make it better. It will make it worse.

Our lives are defined by the stories we tell ourselves and others. Good things happen to everybody and bad things happen to everybody. But it’s the story we tell that emphasizes the event.

We’ve all heard inspiring stories about people who have overcame hardships and difficulties. Those are the stories everyone likes to hear. They remind us of the triumph of the human spirit. On the other hand we all hear stories of gloom and doom from often well-meaning friends, loved ones, relatives. We hear exaggerated stories of sickness and despair. But all of the exaggeration of the bad brings more bad to your life. You get what you focus on. You see what you look for. If you are focusing on “how bad it is” that is what you are getting, more of “how bad it is”. If you are focused on the good that is what you get more of “the good”.

You can choose the stories you tell in your own life. You can choose to downplay the bad things and focus on the good things.

You can choose to put your emotions into the happy and joyful things and minimize your emotional words and stories about the bad things. We all have things we don’t like and things that happen to us that we would rather not have in our lives, but our lives go on. And our stories go on. The definition of what happened to you lies in the story you tell about it. When you change your story, you change your life because you changed the meaning and the definition of what happened.

Viktor Frankl, the holocaust survivor and the author of the great book “Man’s Search for Meaning” said

“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Mr. Frankl survived one of most horrific events of all times. He could have told a horrendous story but he chose not to. Somehow he found meaning in it and he chose for his story to be a triumph of the human spirit.

May he inspire us all.