words to live by: the time is now
using journaling to unleash your creativity

how to write your own story: 6 ways to get started


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. 


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Love this post!

I love this article. It is extremely true. I was telling my email subscribers yesterday about the people you surround yourself with.

You have to evaluate the people in your life and remove the negative 'bad guys'. I felt guilty when I first started doing this, but I've found that my life has much more focus. People really do have an influence on you and you can't allow negative people to control your day.

Great article as always

Dawn S. - Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it!

Stephen - Thank you so much for your comment. I'm glad this post resonated with you. It's so important to look at who we surround ourselves with. Those people impact our stories in such a powerful way.

I third the - I love this post! So true..I especially love the "choose your lens" ;-). Life has been throwing many obstacles at me lately, and it can get really frustrating and hard - but you do what you have to for family. It's also important to remember to take care of me too...even if it's just sitting and doing nothing (although I know I should be getting to the things I really want to do), or choosing not to do certain things I know I can't handle even though I may want to do something because it's the nice thing to do. Hard habit to break but getting better at being comfortable with my choices b/c it's my story after all. Thanks Dani

Saggleo - Thank you! It's great that you've realized the importance of choosing your own lens. Life can throw some crazy curveballs, but it's up to us to choose how we see the life we're living. It's also important, as you mentioned, to carve out time for yourself, whether it's to just relax or spend time doing something you love. I'm glad to hear that you're becoming more comfortable with your choices. It's YOUR story!

I think you are right, it's so important to stop focusing on other people - you have to believe in yourself and set your standard that what you think and feel and care about really matter most. In fact, other people start to pay you respect when you do this and that opens up a lot of hidden opportunity in your life!

Bexhill - It's a hard thing to do sometimes-- focus on yourself -- but it's one of the best ways to make your story the story you want to be living. Thanks for stopping by!

"When you have a choice to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice." William James

Adding value to any situation is also adding value to my life. As you stated blaming and complaining is a waste of time. It only looks bad on me if I complain or blame others for my short comings.

Make the choice to say something nice or to say nothing. Adding value also integrity.

Ellene - That's a great quote and so perfect for this post. Not making a choice is a choice. And every choice - or non-choice - should be something that adds value to your life (and hopefully to someone else's as well!).

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