“I’ll never be able to do this!” “I’ll always fail at that.” “Nothing will ever change!”
Ever caught yourself declaring such prophecies of doom and gloom with absolute conviction? What is it that makes you so sure of events that have yet to happen? Well, turns out it’s a little area in your brain that loves to tell tales…
Stories have existed ever since our ancestors came together around campfires and tried to understand their place in the world around them. Sadly, a lot of these stories are negative. Let’s say a friend ignores you at a party. Is it not all you can think about the next day even though you had a nice time with the five others who were there? And does it not replay itself over and over again in your mind until it’s a huge web of reality, assumptions, beliefs and expectations all embedded in a story of mistrust?
Even when these stories are not biased, they may be outdated. Stories that may have been helpful at some point in our lives can become hurdles as we grow and hold us back from the pursuit of cherished goals. After all, stories are based on experiences, and unless we learn to update our experiences and appreciate our successes, we stay stuck, unhappy, and untrue to our own selves. It is because stories are the fuel that either propels us forward towards our goals or keeps us trapped in a cycle of destructive behaviours.
So, here is a question that will help you align your life in the present and move past “stuck”.
Ask Yourself: What’s My New Story?
Since experiences are the raw materials with which we spin stories in our minds, it’s important to maintain a balanced and flexible outlook on life and not allow the negative—or the obsolete—to influence our way forward. Look back over your life and choose a period or an experience that will help you advance in your goals. For example, your goal of looking after your health will benefit from memories of a time when you took on a project and excelled at it rather than a self-defeating narrative of how little self-control you have. Write out your new story and replay it in your mind until it forms the neural pathways that will move you towards your goals.
As you begin to own your new story, it will become integrated with your sense of self. After all, identity is nothing but an evolving story that finds coherence with the past, present and future. Find the flexibility in your story that allows you to adapt to changing circumstances, and you’ll be able to stand up as authentically “you” through the ups and downs of life.
Albert Einstein once said,
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.”
Is the world you live in hostile or friendly? How do you look at it? It’s up to you to decide.
Every single day I make that decision.
I wake up and ask myself: “Do I live in a good world or a bad world?”
Whether you view your world as good or bad impacts your attitude as you go about your day. It makes you more understanding when things happen that you didn’t necessarily expect.
Someone cuts you off in traffic? It’s okay. At least they didn’t hit you, causing you to be late for your appointment and forcing you to deal with your insurance company, starting the lengthy and often frustrating process of getting your vehicle repaired.
A man walking slowly in front of you on the streets of Dubai? Have patience! Take in the sights and smells and enjoy your “extra” time. (I had to add this one to remind myself.)
By starting your day with a conscious decision that the world is good, you’re less likely to react in a negative way when things happen that you didn’t plan. You have a little more patience. A little more hope.
How to start your day more positively.
If you’re new to this whole “positivity” thing, here are some tips to help you focus more on the good than the bad:
- Choose words and statements that reflect a positive attitude: “I will have a good day” or “I’m excited about what lies ahead today.”
- Focus on things that make you happy: “I look forward to seeing my kid’s school play tonight” or “I can’t wait to see where this project at work takes me!”
- Appreciate the good things in your world: “I’m thankful for my health, the fact that I can pay the bills, and that I have such a wonderful family!”
- Spend more time with positive people, making it easier to be positive yourself!
- It’s never going to be 100 percent, but if you focus on the good just a bit more than the bad, you’re making progress. It’s all about baby steps.
So when you wake up tomorrow, ask yourself this question:
“Do I live in a good world or a bad world?”
And I want you to remember that you have a choice. Do yourself a favour and choose the good. It will make you happier and healthier.