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Narrating A Life

August 17, 2009

This morning I went jogging at the lake where I go every day. The lake is surrounded by a few older hotels, a chapel, a meeting place, and lots of homes. Some of these homes have furry feline friends wandering around them. A few days ago I saw a man on the walking path ahead of me petting a black cat. Quite a few of these area cats are rather friendly; I’ve stopped to pet one before, too! (If you’re going to pet other people’s pets, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after!)

So today I saw the same black cat as the man was petting last week sitting in the road. It’s a quiet road, so I wasn’t concerned for the kitty’s safety. As I ran by, I encountered and older woman who asked me, “Is it bad luck to pass the black cat, or only if the black cat walks in front of your path?” I answered, “I’ve seen that cat many times and I’ve never had any bad luck!” Which got me thinking. Of course.

I’m not certain if the woman who questioned me actually was superstitious, or if she was just making conversation. Either way, I’ve certainly met traditionally superstitious people before. You know, afraid of breaking mirrors, walking under ladders, staying on the 13th floor of a building. I’ve never been one for those superstitions and have done everything I listed above at least once in my life.

But what about other superstitions? What about luck? Does it exist? I think “luck” is as simple as us thinking we’re lucky or not, based on the stories we tell ourselves. Which brings me to the “Narrating A Life” tool.

Betsy’s life has been great. She got to go to college, graduated with honors, and got to visit 2/3rds of the United States in her early 20’s. She’s been to a couple of foreign countries, travels every year, and has a great relationship with her parents. She’s in a happy, committed relationship and owns her own home, plus is on a career path that makes her feel really, really good.

Petunia’s life, however, is a different story. Her parents split up when she was six, she went to college but never felt satisfied with her major, then struggled for years to figure out what she should do with her life. She’s had major romantic relationships go kaput unexpectedly. She’s almost 30 and doesn’t have children, a husband, or a 401(k).

So Betsy and Petunia? They’re both me. Everything I said above is completely true, but, as you can see, one story highlights the fun of my life and one highlights the “feel sorry for me” stuff. Personally, I am much, much more likely to tell Betsy’s version as the story of my life, because despite some not-so-awesome things that have transpired in my 29 years, 8 months, 24 days and 22 hours, I love my life.

I choose to think that I’m on an incredible journey. Some moments aren’t wonderful-feeling. Heck, some weeks aren’t wonderful-feeling! But still, overall my life is something I’m very, very thankful for, and I like telling my story as something that’s both funny and adventurous. That’s what the “Narrating A Life” tool is all about.

Here’s what you do:

1. Pick a mood…sad, happy, desperate, angry, adventurous, humorous, etc.

2. Tell your life story, preferably in bullet-point format, using one of these moods.

3. Pick another mood. If you chose to tell your story as “pitiful” the first time, tell it as, “action adventure” the next.

4. Keep telling your story different ways, until you see that it’s all about the spin YOU put on it!

5. Notice which story makes you feel the best. I’m guessing it’s not the “sad sack” version.

6. At the end of today, write down the story of your day in a light-hearted or funny way.

7. Notice you’re in charge of the way you feel.

Be Joyful!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2009 3:38 pm

    so great! i love storytelling 😉

  2. August 18, 2009 3:11 am

    Great advice! Just what I need especially that I am into Spiritual Coaching. We should really be in charge of the way we feel and we should always choose to be happy in order to give joy unto others.

  3. August 18, 2009 10:21 am

    Very, very good. The human conversation is a big giant story. The way to jump in and be part of it is to tell stories of your own. I’m a huge fan of writing when I’m cranky–especially then, even.

    I’m never an annoyed when I quit writing as when I started.

    Thanks as always.
    Take care friend

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