What stories have you been telling yourself?
The story of “I’m too young,” “I’m too old,” “I’m uneducated,” or “I don’t have enough experience”? You will live whatever story you tell yourself, so make sure you’re telling yourself an inspiring one. Stories express meaning stronger than logical arguments and lawful formulations. Stories are the vehicles people use to give meaning to their experiences. And how you give meaning to or interpret your experiences will direct your life. No matter what you set out to do, achieving your goal will require stories. The key is to create positive and productive stories in line with your new direction in life. Your aim is to align your story with your priorities and purpose.
You will never fulfill a good purpose by living a bad story. Not only can you program your mind with a story—you can program someone else’s mind.
You will never fulfill a good purpose by living a bad story. Eventually, I recognized the bad stories playing in my head and decided to create a new story: “You are new and fresh to this field, which means you have more enthusiasm and can think outside the box more easily. Every question you don’t know the answer to is a chance to learn and enhance your expertise. You are already successful in this situation.
Not only can you program your mind with a story—you can program someone else’s mind. A study at Princeton University found that when two people communicate through storytelling, neural activity becomes almost synchronous: the listener’s brain activity mirrors that of the speaker’s brain with a one-second lag.11 Another study from the University of Missouri has shown that storytelling improves communication skills and prevents disease progression in patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Storytelling is also used as a form of psychotherapy called narrative therapy.13 It’s based on narrative psychology, a viewpoint asserting that human beings shape their lives with stories. Narrative therapists work with their patients to develop better stories. In this process, a narrative therapist asks a patient questions to generate vivid descriptions of the patient’s life events. The key is that the therapist will only ask questions that prompt positive descriptions not currently included in the plot of the patient’s problematic story. This process helps people increase happiness and improve self-confidence by giving them happier, more empowering stories to live out. Narrative therapy has been shown to effectively treat a variety of psychological disorders, including major depression and anorexia.
Achieve your biggest goals in life by being the hero of your story, not the spectator, loser, or victim. Instead of seeing yourself as a grunt struggling uphill against the world, start seeing yourself as an adventurer, teacher, and connector of ideas and people. Actively choose the stories influencing your life and be the hero.Be aware of what stories you identify with and how they may be influencing your own. If your story is not inspiring you, it’s time to change it.
Seize the pen. It’s time to get real. It’s time to write a new story for your life. This story will be something that generations of people will read and be inspired by. This story will be bold, strong, and meaningful. This is your story.
Before you begin, find a place where you can be completely alone. You need to be alone so you are not influenced by any feelings of guilt, insecurity, or embarrassment. Realize other people’s expectations can limit you mentally, even from a distance. When you are ready, start reflecting on the times in your life when you felt the most inspired.
Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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