When I tell myself the story, “My kids are great, or smart or happy,” I am pleased.
But when I tell myself the story that my girlfriend doesn’t love me anymore, or that I am running out of money I suffer needlessly.
The stories I tell myself influence the quality of my life, often more than what actually happens.
So let’s have a look at how you can lighten up your life with stories and blog your heart open.
Tell yourself creative stories.
When my daughter was little I told her bedtime stories.
I would ask her for three ingredients: “honey, a horse and a sandwich,” she might say.
I would then wind those three ingredients into a story.
I would never begin with the ingredients, they would show up as listening intently and dozing off wrestled for her attention.
I would wrap up the story as her eyes closed. Her last words were, “Ongoing story?” Which meant that she was so into the story that she wanted it to continue another day.
Add different ingredients to make your stories come alive. Creative stories, stories that are ongoing lighten you up and entertain you.
Tell other people stories too.
I loved telling my daughter those stories, and she lives a very different life for having heard such a wide range of creative tales.
Rather than getting stuck on the same old story, or truth, or fact, she makes up stories all the time. It makes her life richer, spices up her relationship, and contributes to her being the author of her own life.
But she grew up. It has been a while since I have told her a bedtime story.
I still have stories to tell, and that is why I blog. Often I begin a blog with ingredients I want to work into the story. I imagine you, cuddled up with your phone or iPad, almost ready to fall asleep but not quite. And the last thing you do, after your busy day, before you nod off to sleep is read my blog.
Imagining you doing that warms my heart connects us; it makes a big world seem more intimate and reminds me that I love you just as you are and that the stories that we tell ourselves really do influence the quality of our lives.
Two kinds of stories.
When you ask yourself a “why” question, or attempt to explain why you did something then you are trying to justify doing it.
Stories that justify are defensive, and they lead to stress and more defense. Tell enough defensive stories and soon you will start living like you are on trial.
Franz Kafka wrote a book called The Trial. It was a deep, disturbing story of a man who lived his life as though he was always on trial. But he never knew what he was on trial for. He was always on edge, burdened by the possibility of a verdict, he was also paranoid, imagining that he might have done something horribly wrong and was about to be caught.
Stories that justify lead to a life on trial.
The positive alternative to justifying is stories that entertain.
An entertaining story paints a picture, reveals connections or sheds new light on an old situation.
Why am I writing this blog?
Defensively I could answer: “To build my business.”
But if I don’t answer right away other stories show up like:
“Because in high school I didn’t write very well, and at the ripe old age of 65 I am learning to write and enjoying each word.”
I might also say:
“I am writing the blog because I am up early, want to find out what I am thinking or what is important to me so I write.”
Or I might even say:
“I used to write personal letters by hand, but have discovered that when I post a blog on elephant journal people respond. They write comments which gives me an opportunity to connect with new people, people I might otherwise not meet.”
There are so many stories. When you tell more stories that entertain, and fewer stories that justify you lighten up, learn about yourself and have a bit of fun.
Stories that justify will lead you to a dark defensive place: stories that entertain can lead you all the way to the discovery of the ridiculousness of life.
Why am I writing this blog?
“Because I imagine that there are aliens who regularly read elephant journal blogs and I want them to know that I care about them and would like to vacation on their planet soon: and since I don’t have their home addresses this is the only way that I know to reach them.
The stories I tell myself about why I am writing this blog influence how much fun I have writing the blog—and the stories/reasons you give for reading it influence how much fun you have reading it.
People just won’t continue to do something that isn’t fun. At least I hope that is true.
So, I am writing this blog in hopes of you having more fun after reading it. And if you have more fun after reading it then you will be a bit lighter and happier, perhaps take a deep breath and laugh more easily. When you do that you contribute to this world being a bit lighter and brighter: and as the world becomes a better place because of your levity my granddaughter will grow into a better world, a world that works for everyone.
I’ll leave you with three tips about lightening up through stories:
Believe your story completely, then let it go.
Picture what you are talking about, and feel it too.
Tell more entertaining stories.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Travis May
Images: Flickr/David Morris