How To Live A Better Story

by Jason Kotecki on · 37 comments

Once upon a time… Ever notice that all the good sto­ries seem to start that way? (With the notable excep­tion of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”)

Have you ever thought of your life as a story? And more impor­tantly, is it a good one? Is your story an adven­ture, a romance, a com­edy (per­haps a lit­tle bit of all three)? It’s not one of those long three-hour snooze­fests where noth­ing excit­ing ever hap­pens, is it? If they made a movie about your life, would it be titled, It’s a Won­der­ful Life? Or would Speed, You’ve Got Mail, or Night­mare on Elm Street be more fit­ting? Unfor­tu­nately, too many peo­ple are liv­ing lives like those movies that come out every sum­mer. You know, the over­hyped ones with big bud­gets, lots of action — and tired sto­ries with thin plots. Just because a movie costs a lot of money and has a lot of things going on doesn’t mean it’s a very good story. The same is true of your life.

In my speak­ing pro­grams, I spend a lot of time talk­ing about look­ing at our lives as sto­ries. Some peo­ple are not at all happy with the story they are liv­ing. Most peo­ple admit that even if their story is pretty good, it could be bet­ter. At the end of my talk, I usu­ally close with this open-ended state­ment: “If I really want to live a bet­ter story, it might make sense for me to…” Most of the time I let the audi­ence fill in the blank silently in their minds, as it’s likely a bit dif­fer­ent for every­one. But recently, some­one shouted out, “Hire new writers!”

I couldn’t help but laugh, as did the rest of the crowd. But you know what? It’s actu­ally a pretty good point. If you’re less than thrilled with the direc­tion of your story, it is time to hire a new writer: YOU.

Refuse to coast through life accept­ing the premise and plot other peo­ple have set out for you. Turn unfor­tu­nate cir­cum­stances into the setup for an amaz­ing under­dog story. Cre­ate amaz­ing scenes that you’ll look back on with won­der and joy.

The trick is to begin act­ing “as if.”

If you want your story to be more adven­tur­ous, start act­ing as if you were the main char­ac­ter in an adven­ture story. As you make your way through the day, search for oppor­tu­ni­ties to be adven­tur­ous — and then take advan­tage of them. Keep it up, and even­tu­ally you’ll be mak­ing Indi­ana Jones look like a couch potato.

If you want your story to be more roman­tic, quit wait­ing for some­one else to take the lead. Start act­ing as if you are some­one who is extremely roman­tic. Even­tu­ally, you will become so, and you’ll attract even more of it into your own story.

If you want a bit more com­edy in your life, scat­ter banana peels all over your home. Ok, a more effec­tive idea might be to start hang­ing out with a fun­nier group of people.

And don’t for­get the power of look­ing at the bad things that have hap­pened to you over the years and recast­ing them in a new light. As Carol Bur­nett said, “Com­edy is tragedy plus time.”

You deserve a great story.

If it’s time to hire new a writer, I guar­an­tee you that you’re the per­fect per­son for the job. Be bold, act as if, and start right now. Because today is the begin­ning of your once upon a time.


by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Melody | Deliberate Receiving September 16, 2011 at 9:51 am

This is great Jason. I love this premise. I decided a long time ago that my main goal in life was to have tons of great stories to tell when I’m old. That made it clear to me that I couldn’t wait until “someday” to start having adventures. I had to start collecting them immediately. I am the writer, director and star of my own life story. Too often we let other people fill those roles. We let them write, direct and even take center stage while we play a bit part in our own lives. And then, at the end, we wonder where all the time went. We wonder why we spent so many years thinking that someday, when everyone else was taken care of, we’d have some fun, too. Someday never comes. OMG. I love this analogy. I could go on all day… He, he.

I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

Hugs,
Melody
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Glad the analogy resonated with you, Melody. It’s probably something you could write a whole book about! And then of course it would be turned into a movie, and then everyone would say that it wasn’t as good as the book…
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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life September 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

I also love the message in this post and I didn’t know that great quote from Carol Burnett. Thanks so much for sharing!
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Yeah, when I heard that Carol Burnett quote I was like, “That’s BRILLIANT!” Really helps put things in perspective, that’s for sure.
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Hilary September 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hi Jason .. too true – and sometimes that treasure turns up late .. but better late than never and then the thoughts and ideas can overflow .. the jungle of life = the puzzle of the pieces coming together ..

Cheers to you, Lance and Hi to Stacey – my ‘Cornish’ friend .. have good weekends .. Hilary
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Hilary September 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

Only me again .. I didn’t click the tick box! H

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kathryn September 16, 2011 at 11:52 am

wonderful, energizing post! I’ve written a new story for myself for down the road (5-10 years from now…once the kids graduate from school) but i realized with your post that i need to write a new story for myself today!! thanks!!

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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Nothing wrong with having a blockbuster planned for ten years from now…but right now is a great time to be working on the “prequels.” :)
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Jen September 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Hi Jason,
This was a really fun article to read, and also insightful!

I think the banana peels would totally crack my kids up. They don’t think my jokes are funny anymore….but watching me slip all over. You may be on to something there!!

I agree about starting immediately writing life stories and “hiring new writers.” But I also love to journal to see where perhaps the plot could have gone a different way if I had made a different script for myself…..therefore teaching me those ever important life lessons. I usually laugh about those mistakes later. Like Carol Burnett’s quote!

So happy to read your words, and I look forward to more from you. Thanks Lance!!
PS Jason…I love the illustration at the top! Awesome!
Jen
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Thanks Jen! A journal is a super way to chart the progress of your story, and helps make sure that the story ahead is a good one.
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Julie Ellis September 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Hi Jason~

I have been following your website for many years…Love it!

Once upon a time~ seven or more years ago, as I read through a Bay City, Michigan, church bulletin, I read that you would be speaking at a parish in the area. I could not attend this event but I went to your website and that is where I was introduced to Fighting Adultitis…Escape Adulthood…your comics…You and Kim…later on, Lucy…and soon to be, Baby Kotecki #2…AND Lance Ekum.

Kim introduced Lance and The Levity Project in Chicago, in a post she wrote, and I began reading along at The Jungle of Life. Ya gotta love Lance! :)

I have enjoyed reading your insights, watching & listening to your videos through the years. Life is so much more fun when we share a childlike spirit with others.

Thanks for sharing your words here today.
Haha…there is always a clown in the audience!
{Our lives as stories}….I like that and the fact that we have the ability to change our lives, our stories. To live a better story.

In my life, have been {beyond blessed}.

But, as I think back there are some moments, days, weeks, months, and even years that I would re-write if I could. Time changes everything.
Lessons are learned.
It is comforting to know we can begin again.
We can find new treasures along the way…on our journey…in our life.

We each have a story to tell. To write.
Our very own treasures.
Each adding a {new page}, a better page, to our book..our lives.

Once upon a time….My next 50 years…yes, I’m that old!
…May it be filled with the ordinary, extraordinary, and all that in-between stuff.
Take care,
Julie

Julie
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Lance Ekum September 18, 2011 at 6:01 am

Julie,
It’s so, so cool and amazing how our paths have crossed – and how this feels like it is coming full circle now, with Jason writing regularly here at the Jungle!

Keep writing your story…and reaching out and touching lives in beautiful ways along the way.

It’s so awesome having you here!!!

Lance
P.S. Yay for Kotecki baby #2, who is on the way!!

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David Stevens September 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Hi Jason,
I enjoy this analogy, the one of ‘your story’. A major key is being able to write your own script instead of having someone else write it for you. Thank you.
be good to yourself
David
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Jimmy/Life Architects September 17, 2011 at 2:08 am

Hi Jason,

I never thought of looking at our lives as a story before. It is certainly a great way to see things and to be adventurous. Good stories are meant to be exciting and meaningful. Behind every great story is a theme. We need to write our own story with great theme. I believe that that theme is our purpose in life. Good stories also have great supporting cast. These people play an important role in making our stories stand. In life we need great company to make ourselves fulfilled. Oh mind there are so many metaphors for life in our stories. I can’t wait to be hired and get writing.

Thanks
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Lori Gosselin September 17, 2011 at 8:54 am

Hi Jason,
I’ve always seen my life as a story and lately I’ve been aware that I’ve been writing it myself! That comment shouted out at your speaking engagement was right on! Except that we can’t hire another writer :o We’re it but how cool is that!
It’s hard to remember and easy to forget that we DID write the life we’re living now. We’ve hired the actors and given them their lines. That’s why we never ever have to try to change someone else and why it’s foolhardy to even try!
Such an interesting topic!
Lori
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Paula @ AffordAnything.org September 17, 2011 at 11:25 am

Great post! Funny, I’ve had this same thought many times …. I read a lot of books, so I often think about what kind of book my life would be (same premise). Would it be a good story? A page-turner? Or would it be bland?

The U.S. Navy actually used to run commercials asking, “If your life were a movie, what kind of movie would it be?” The commercial’s point was to turn your life into an action film by enlisting, but the notion — of asking yourself that question — still stands.
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Justin | Mazzastick September 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Acting as if can work but you have to really believe it. Some people are not ready or able to access the shift in consciousness necessary for doing this.
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Jody - Fit at 53 September 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

This is a very cool approach to making things happen in your life…. I really have to think thru how I should become the main character & make it so!
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Andrew Walker September 18, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Hi Jason. Thanks for sharing this. It’s a very nice story of life. I also like the illustration you used, simple and warm!
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J.D. Meier September 18, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I like the theme that it’s not what happens to us, it’s the stories we tell.

I use stories to drive my day, my week, my month, and my year along with the rule of three. For example, each day I find the three wins to go for, to help shape my day. It’s empowering and it always reminds me that I’m the author of my life and that I can write my story forward.

I also like Melody’s comment … “my main goal in life was to have tons of great stories to tell when I’m old.” That’s a perfect way to be the director of our life and shine the spotlight on the meaningful things along the way.
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm

J.D. — LOVE the idea of finding three wins a day. Momentum is a powerful ally and we certainly get more of what we focus on!
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Samantha September 19, 2011 at 5:22 am

All of us has different story and it is up to us how we face it…
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Lynn September 19, 2011 at 8:01 am

Love that – “hire new writers” – an interesting thought. All good points. :)
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Sonny- Kids' Art September 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

If your Life is not proceeding as planned, maybe you need to lose The Terminators that are weighing you down, get out of whatever Risky Business you’re engaging in, and become more of An Officer and a Gentlemen or Dreamgirl. It may seem like a Mission Impossible, but you don’t necessarily have to do all of this within 48 Hours or by Next Friday…
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Nicely done. Ignore this advice and you’re definitely Dumb and Dumber :)
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rob white September 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

Hi Jason,
That’s a big one… “act as if”. One of the most powerful ways to stop hesitating and rewrite that script, is to act as if it is already so. We acted “as if” when we learned to walk and talk. Why not now? There is no better way to abandon irrelevant action than to act with the confidence we’d have if we’d already succeeded. We must re-write that script and start acting in the starring role
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Ken Wert September 20, 2011 at 2:36 am

I love this line: “Start act­ing as if you are some­one who is extremely roman­tic. Even­tu­ally, you will become so”

It’s so true, Jason. Doing can actually become being. It may feel fake at first, but it’s the same thing throwing a ball the right way after years of stepping with the wrong foot. At first it feels forced, until the new way of throwing pays off. So with personal characteristics. I used to be shy when I was much younger. I decided no more and started acting as if I wasn’t. At first it felt awkward. But it soon became quite natural. And no one would say I’m shy today. And truth is, I’m not.

Thanks for posting an important message!
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Charisma September 20, 2011 at 3:15 am

Hi Jason, I really enjoy reading your post, and because of this I be able to write my own script than look and hire someone else to write my story for me. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. It’s fun!
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David W September 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

I often tell myself that I’m living this life to impress my future grandkids. I figure if they think gramps was a crazy adventurous guy, then they can have the same spirit.

My life is my film, my book, and my story. It’s up to me to make it worthwhile!

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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Neat way to look at it, David. I definitely want my grandkids to see me like that and be inspired to be the same way!
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Naomi September 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm

LOVE this post, thank you Jason and Lance!! Brilliant quote from Carol Burnett & here’s to “making Indiana Jones look like a couch potato” – Yes! :-D

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Tanya September 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I smiled my way through this read, as I did when I enjoyed your talk at Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit. It really is just that easy, isn’t it? Glad there are more of us pulling the veil off of that one.
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Jason of Kim & Jason September 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Good to meet up with you again here, Tanya! It’s a pretty big veil, so lots of people make the load easier :)
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Jewel October 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Thanks for sharing this post, lots of learning for me. looking forward for more post guys.

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Yvonne October 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

I am fond of writing my thoughts on my journal, and no one is allowed to read it but only me and me alone. Maybe because I am not confident of my writing. But at least I feel a little bit of encouragement after reading your post. Thanks!

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Maxine October 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Thanks for the inspiration to all of us!!

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Tammie October 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm

It is definitely not easy to live a better story and this is a help…

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