INGREDIENTS FOR A BETTER STORY
As we live out our stories, it’s essential that we identify what kind of story we want to live. You’ll notice I didn’t say “what” story, but rather, “what kind,” of story. Truth is, life is unexpected and our story can unfold unpredictably. We usually don’t get to choose the story that we find ourselves in, or better said…the story that finds us. However, we do have a choice as to how we’ll live in any given story.
Charles R. Swindoll said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Swindoll emphasizes the importance of our attitudes in life, and how each morning when we wake up, we have a choice as to which attitude we will choose to embody that day.
Because I not only believe this to be true, but have experienced its truthfulness, I’d like to share some ingredients I’ve learned to latch onto, no matter what story I find myself in. These are postures I try to assume as I live out the best role in my story. My hope is that you can find value in them as well.
1. BE GRATEFUL
Being grateful begins with focusing on all that we have, rather than on that which we don’t. This can be easier said then done. One of our human tendencies is to focus on what we don’t have at the expense of all we do have. None the less, I have found that gratefulness has a way of awakening the beauty of life. At the risk of sounding cliche, I try to live with an attitude of gratitude in whatever circumstance or story I’m in. Gratefulness has a way of causing our soul to be happy and helps us to live with meaning, purpose and significance, in whatever story we’re in.
2. BE PRESENT
We have an incessant pursuit of multi-tasking. In fact, we describe our ability to multi-task as a skill when filling out our resume or talking about our strengths. And although there is value in being able to juggle several things at once, we can also lose the wonder of presence in the process. Ferris Bueller wisely said, “"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while - you could miss it.” This here is the issue with multi-tasking. We don’t slow down enough to enjoy all the joys of the moment. We worry about the past, grow anxious about the future, all the while, dismissing the present. But there is so much goodness happening right at this very moment. Being present means being mindful, or setting our minds on nothing but the moment we’re in. Take a couple of minutes today to think, meditate and focus on one thing at a time. The present will thank you for it.
3. BE PATIENT
Being patient is the starting point of being present. Society has conditioned us to want as much as we can get, as quickly as we can get it. This is because we are a society that is driven by results. We want results and we want them now.The irony is that we don’t stay in the now long enough to cultivate those results. When we don’t see the results we want, right now, we tend to move on. Lack of patience doesn’t allow us the time to give ideas opportunity to develop and mature. Lack of patience makes us believe that certain things may not be for us because they aren’t currently with us. We lose patience with our dreams, patience with our loved ones and patience with ourselves. To be patient is to believe that time is actually on our side and to know that just because things, or people, or dreams are slow moving doesn’t meant that they’re not moving. To be patient is to enjoy the journey as we travel toward our destination.
4. BE CAREFUL
Being careful doesn’t always have to do with being vigilant of potential dangers. At it’s core, to be careful means to be full of care—it is to have an overflow of care. The primary place we should allow our care to overflow is with ourselves. Living well, within a story means that we are constantly caring for ourselves. I’m not referring to a narcissistic, “it’s all about me,” attitude. I’m talking about time taken to care for the well-being of ourselves. Have you ever heard someone say that they don’t have time to workout? Or that they’re too busy to have fun? I find life significance every time I board an airplane. The opening presentation tells us that in case of an emergency, we should place the air mask on ourselves before placing them on others. This is the epitome of self care. It is knowing that before we can care…and even in order to care for others, we first have to care for ourselves. How do you practice self-care? Do you have daily rhythms you engage in to care for yourself? Allow yourself to overflow with care for yourself. The people around you will thank you for it. Even if they don’t, you’ll still feel amazing that you love yourself enough to care.
5. BE YOU
Our true self is who we really are when we let go of all of the false stories, labels, and judgments that we have placed upon ourselves. It is who we naturally are without the masks and pretentiousness. It is who we really are when we let fall to the floor other people’s stuff that we have taken on. We get so caught up with other people that we forget to live out our unique role within our story. We compare ourselves to others only to consistently fall short. This is because we’ll never be as good as anyone else. We’re not intended to be as good as anyone else. We were created to be the best version of ourselves and this is more than good enough. It’s okay to be you. There are so many things to love about yourself and the idiosyncrasies that make you…you. You are an original, unique and beautiful. Allow your role to add color to a story that may appear black and white. To be fully you is to offer the world your greatest contribution…you.
We all want a good story.
We all need a better story.
May we live today, a story we’d want to tell tomorrow.