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 for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
View all posts by Jason Kotecki

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