So much of what we face in life is out of our control. We didn't choose to be born when and where we were born. We didn't choose our families or the social status we were raised in. As David Brooks writes in The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement,
"We can choose the narrative we tell about our lives. We're born into cultures, nations, and languages that we didn't choose. We're born with certain brain chemicals and genetic predispositions that we can't control. We're sometimes thrust into social conditions that we detest. But among all the things we don't control, we do have some control over our stories. We do have a conscious saying in selecting the narrative we will use to organize perceptions."
So many things in life our out of our control, but the narrative we create about who we are and where we're going is something that we do have control over. It can be really hard to realize that sometimes. Life can overwhelm us and make us feel as if so much is out of our control. But it's not. Okay, some of it is. But it's up to us to work with what we've got -- to create our own stories and make our narratives read the way we want them to.
6 Ways to Start Writing Your Own Story
1. Learn to cope with change. Life is filled with the unexpected. Things change. People change. If you want to have control of the story of your life, it's up to you to learn to adapt to change. You must realize that it's inevitable and you have to learn to be flexible. It's only then that you will be able to truly craft your own story without feeling as if you are powerless to change.
2. Stop focusing on other people. It's hard not to focus on other people -- after all, we are social animals -- but what I mean by this is stop allowing other people's views of the world to impact yours. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop creating a life that is centered on what other people do and say. If you want to have a story that's all yours, you must learn to stand on your own two feet.
3. Add value wherever you can. We often feel trapped in the situations, cultures, or social circles we were born into. It's very tempting to complain and blame, but that gets you nowhere. What does get you somewhere is adding value to every situation you find yourself in. Even if things aren't ideal, you can add value simply by being positive or giving your best effort. Blaming and complaining is a waste of time.
4. Choose your lens to view the world. You can't choose a lot of things in your life, but you can always choose the way you look at the world. It's up to you to choose a lens through which you can look at your life. You can be positive or negative, imaginative or bored, brave or fearful. There are so many ways you can look at your life -- and that's all up to you to choose the right lens.
5. Make your own choices. When faced with choices in life, it can be tempting to look to others for guidance and advice. There's nothing wrong with doing this, but remember: at the end of the day, the choice you make is yours. To write your own story, you must control the plot. Don't hesitate to seek advice, but remember to take it with a grain of salt. You have the final say in the choices you make.
6. Evaluate the people in your life. One of the most important aspects of any story is the characters. What characters are in your life? Who are the good guys? The bad guys? If you want to be writing your own story, you have to be choosing the characters carefully. Surround yourself with people who are going to bring you up and inspire you. Find the people who will help you write the story you'll want to look back and read.
There are so many things outside our control in this life. It can be tempting to throw up your hands and say, "Forget it! Things just happen and I don't have any control!" But you are better than that. You, like me, can see that there are some things we can control. We can control our outlook. We can control our decisions. We can control who we surround ourselves with. We control what we choose to focus on. Yes, there are a lot of things that come at us, things that we're born into, that influence the stories of our lives, but we do have some say in the way our narratives turn out. It's up to you to take hold of the pen and start writing your own story.