Your Story Shapes Your #Happiness
February 27, 2012
— hero, personal narrative, protagonist, story line
Each of us has a story line that we recite about our own lives. Are we the hero or the loveable but tragically flawed protagonist? Do we overcome adversity or are we mired in defeat? How we view our own story shapes how we interpret events (which in turn reinforce our existing story line.)
Take any setback such as not getting a job. How do you incorporate that into your existing story line?
If the story line is the “almost guy” or “always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” then this event will turn into another data point of closely lost dreams. You’ll say, “See. I didn’t get it again. Things never work out for me.” You’ve taken a single event and added it as another brick in your negative global belief.
Conversely, if you have a “hero” story line in your head, you might think, “Every hero has to overcome challenges, and this is mine. I can’t be a hero without suffering setbacks and overcoming them. Now I’m one chapter closer to my goal.” Same event, just interpreted differently based on the story line in your head.
If our pre-existing narratives shape our interpretations, then it probably good we make them overt instead of subconscious. What is your existing story line? Write a few paragraphs about it and analyze it. Is it negative? Is it productive? Is it accurate or melodramatic?
If you’re written a ‘sort-of-negative’, ‘sort-of-melodramatic’ narrative about yourself, first, join the club, because many of us have our own selves as the honorable, noble but tragically flawed protagonist. Second, rewrite it, this time telling the whole story. There is no universal truth, just subjective truth. What’s a more accurate narrative? How would others describe your story? Try even putting a positive spin on your story and see what you think?
Your existing narrative many not be accurate. You are not cursed, not snake-bitten, not condemned to life a live of loneliness or broken dreams. That’s just the story line we tell ourselves to rationalize the pain. Write a more accurate narrative now. Realize we each have good moments and bad moments, and for the bad ones, write how you’ll learn and grow from it, pointing you again in the right direction.
Write your new story line now!