Make Your Life Awesome by Thinking of it as a Story

by STEVE BLOOM

Make Life Awesome By Thinking of it as a Story

A few years ago I was in a class where the teacher asked everyone to finish this sentence: “life is a…”. Apparently, how you finish the sentence reveals how you see life, your place in it and your overall outlook. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but I can tell you mine seemed pretty accurate. I put down that life is a story.

Even after all these years, I’d still say that life is a story. But not the kind where we’re just passive characters without a say in the plot unfolding around us. Everyone writes their own story. All you need to do is decide how you want it to develop; it’s up to you how awesome everything turns out.

Your Life is a Story

Imagine you’re at a cocktail party. You’re standing around a group of people telling anecdotes. You have a few good interesting stories to tell so you start with those. But how long can you go before you start running out?

If life is a story, what does that say for someone who doesn’t have many interesting stories to share?

This is the kind of question that has pushed me to create as many interesting memories as I can for my own life. So I’m always on the lookout for new experiences and new things to try. That way I can constantly be creating new exciting and interesting memories.

It’s interesting when I’m asked things like:

“Why did you travel to Nicaragua?”

“Why did you start blogging?”

“What made you decide to swim with sharks?”

They aren’t particularly hard questions for me to answer since they were all things I had genuine interest in doing for one reason or another. Yet one of the biggest underlying drives for me to do all these activities was so I’d make good memories. I wanted to make interesting life stories.

Of course, making good memories wasn’t the sole reason to do these things, but it helped me make choices about what to do. Whenever I’m faced with the decision to take the safer, less adventurous route, I think of all the memories and life stories I’ll miss out on and usually take the more adventurous one instead.

That’s what thinking of your life as a story can do – it’s a source of motivation to seek out interesting experiences so you can create awesome memories.

Life is a Journey

Seeing life as a story gives you a much different outlook on life from other people. A lot of people completely fixate on end goals as if that is all that mattered. While I think setting and reaching goals is important, I’m really not all that outcome-dependent.

I can honestly say that the great experiences you have along the way are just as important as achieving things and realizing end goals. I’m totally one of those people who would say the journey is more important than the destination.

In fact I’d say I’m more story-dependent. I’m more interested in what will give me an interesting memory to tell later in life. This change of focus makes me:

• More willing to try new experiences
• Not as concerned about looking stupid
• Concerned more about the experience than the end-goal
• Less inhibited
• Adventurous and more ready to take risks

When you see the value of creating stories, you get a less restrained outlook on life. I’m more willing to try new experiences simply because I don’t care as much about how it ends. I’m not as concerned about failing or looking stupid and I’m more interested in the experience itself.

In fact, I have a lot of stories about stupid things I’ve done. But you know what? – I think most of them are great. Often they come from when I tried something new or took a risk on something that didn’t quite work out.

For instance, the first time I tried surfing, I think I fell off the board more often than I ever really rode a wave. It was bad. And I don’t think I have to go into detail of all the times when I was single and tried to start conversations with women only for it to end awkwardly.

But I have the ability to look back on some of the stupid things I’ve done and just laugh.

Plus I made new, fun stories.

Honestly I’d rather try something new and fail instead of sitting in my comfort zone all the time and make my life story completely dull. Of course, this might mean I make a lot of mistakes.

But it will also mean reaching a lot of success too. Eventually I did get better at that surf board. And I’ve started dozens of great conversations with women (point of evidence – my wife).

Ultimately, it’s your life story you are creating. What do you want it to say? Stop being so concerned about where you’re going and just make the journey enjoyable and memorable. Seek out as many crazy and adventurous experiences as you can so that next time you’re at a cocktail party, you’ll never run out of tales to share.

Do you think of life as a story too?
photo credit: JoelMontes

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Comments

  1. Life is a story. So good to know I’m not the only one that views it that way.

    For years I’ve been telling people that when I don’t know which path to take, I opt for the one that will be the better story when I’m at the Senior Center. I’ve found most of those stories that I’m creating now are less the “I can’t believe I did that – how on Earth did I survive?” kind of my youth/20s, and are much more the “Good for me for having the courage to try that” variety.

    • Yeah, I’ve found that there are others out there that think the same way. It’s about creating the best story for your life. The one you would want to tell later on in life.

      It’s interesting how the stories you want for yourself will change as you grow older. I’ve found that my stories have changed too. I guess things like that will change as you get older.

  2. Great advice.
    I read a book recently about how to live a better story. in other words, if you have to write a book about your life, what would you want it to say about you. Start living that life, that story.

    One of the things I did not want my life story to say is that I sacrificed everything to have a great career. or i gave it all up to have kids. Life isnt all about work and you can still live a great story with kids.

    I often hear people use these excuses to not live a better story. Just living their lives on an occasional weekend here and their or living for their 2 week annual vacation.

    Have a great weekend.

    • Yeah, I don’t want my story to say that either. I agree fully that life isn’t all about work.

      I’ve heard people use work and kids as excuses too. I tell them that there’s no reason they can’t travel the world or do all other kinds of things simply because they have kids. Now when they say anything like that I just point them to your site and say “look”. Works pretty well.

  3. Thanks for this — I’ve had the tendency to think about my life as a story as well — although a bit differently, since I’ve tended to see my life as an epic novel of which I am the swashbuckling hero, which perhaps is a more egocentric perspective than thinking of life as a place to seek out stories to regale others with. Or maybe we’re basically coming from the same place. :)

    • Life as a swashbuckling hero. I like the sound of that. It does have a ring of adventure to it. Egocentric or not, I think it sounds like a good story to be living.

  4. Thinking of life as a story is a great idea. With a good story you never know what’s coming next, there are sub-plots, and chapters. A good story is never monotonous. Applied to life this means that we should learn to adapt, have a few creative projects going on the side and at points move on to new things.

    • You’re right. A good story is never monotonous. It should have enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. It’s like you said, have a few creative projects going on the side and keep moving towards new and exciting things.

  5. I couldn’t agree more.

    Life is a story to me too with interesting twists & turns. Although, I am yet to have those crazy adventures to cherish later. My life is quite “adventureless” so to speak, except for the day-to-day situations life throws up 😛

    Sometimes I feel I am not living it to the fullest, tied down by responsibilities & mundane routine, more by reluctance & fear towards change. But your post helps me to shun those fears a little bit. Thanks.

    • Getting past fear and reluctance to change can be hard. It took me several years to finally get past my fears to move to a bigger city and travel all over the world. So that means if you’re not living as an adventurous life as you want now, it doesn’t mean it will never happen.

      I have to say that everyday situations can lead to some big adventures sometimes. It’s just a matter of being open to them and going with the flow when they happen.

  6. its a great story.to think about do what u want to do , sometime some strainge filling or some unique experiance give u a lession for , how you make your life more interesting and learn more about your life . i thing every life have a massage so don’t close , open it and see every line every word have awesome meaning . to live life with more colourful and gressfully..

    • Unique experiences do provide good lessons. It can help you learn a lot about life too. That’s why it’s good to get a wide variety of different experiences.

  7. This was the medicine I needed! This makes sense. I have always tried to set goals and be like my VP friends, but it never excited me. The stories I have from photography trips or firefighting are far more important to me then a title or bigger pay check…. I always said “Its all about the Adventure!” It is the people you meet and the stories behind the trip. This was an incredible impactful read and was the right message at the right time. Thanks for all the hard work!

    • Thanks, Rick, I’m glad you love the post. It seems as if the older I get, the more I appreciate all the adventures and experiences I’ve had. I know I’d rather focus on having exciting experiences instead of trying to get a bigger paycheck.

      • Steve

        I had this discussion with a friend that sort of relates to a storied life and wanted your opinion. What is the answer to a storied life with little retirement $$ or a less storied life but more $$ for retirement? I’m not a saver and spend my money for trips and adventures. I’m not married so I don’t have the extra income… Just looking for a more educated opinion!

        Rick

        • Rick, I’ve had this discussion with friends before too. That is a hard question to answer. I think it’s better to spend your money on travel and adventure as you earn it. I don’t like the thought of saving all my money just to live comfortably later in life. I’d hate to think of all those travel opportunities I’d miss along the way.

          It probably is a good idea to save some money aside for retirement, but just not so much that you’re giving up all your trips and adventures.

  8. I returned to school right after WTC 9/11 because I felt I wanted to do something besides sit and mourn for the terrible losses we suffered, here in NY. I applied to NYU, which I attended years ago, and was flat out rejected “because of my previous grades” (A’s and B’s — hello? must have been my age – 54 in 2001). I was devastated – and thought that was it for going back to college. Of course I was wrong. I had dinner not long after that with a friend, whose dad was a retired professor. Norman heard me whining about NYU’s ‘rejection”. That wise, wonderful man took me by the shoulders, saying firmly, “A first rate mind deserves a first rate school –Columbia University – General Studies..!” “Duh?” I think I answered. Cut to the chase. I applied, won scholarship after scholarship at Columbia, and when I was forced to leave for family reasons, my GPA in the Ivy League was a robust 3.7!! What is my point? Simply this: It takes a bit of perspective and understanding to see that those very same doors which get slammed in your face, are in FACT nudges from the Universe that you need to go in another direction. Had I not been rejected by NYU, I never would have altered the entire trajectory of my life – which included marrying a wonderful man — at the age of 60!! So, try and see that the things that my African colleague says, “blessings at the door wearing ugly shoes..” are in reality guidance, that you need to go another way. And if you can do that, a richer, more abundant life, in every aspect can be yours. It takes practice – but I highly recommend it!!

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