How To Rewrite The Story Of Your Life

Our lives are a compilation of stories we tell ourselves.

Stories of what we’ve done, how we’ve done it, and what we want to do. Stories about who we are and who we are not.

These stories create our reality, but they’re not always real. They’re our interpretations of the truth, filtered through our perceptions, expectations, hopes and fears.

Sometimes these stories don’t work for us.

They don’t lead to what we envisioned and they may even hold us back. We wind up stuck, unhappy, disappointed, or worse.

“But the stories of our life are malleable. We can rewrite them as often as we want.”

By doing so, we create a new reality for ourselves.

If you feel like your life story could use a rewrite, here are a few ways to start…

Change your villain.

Maybe it’s a person, maybe it’s a condition, maybe it’s something within you that holds you back.

Whatever is the enemy in your life story — the thing you think prevents you from getting what you want — you have the power to change it.

You may not be able to make it disappear (though sometimes you can), but you can shift how you see the role it plays in your life.

“Just think: What if the thing you think is the villain in your story isn’t actually what’s held you back? Maybe you’ve battled the wrong villain all along.”

Change your origin story.

Every hero has an origin story, but it’s possible you’ve chosen the wrong story to define how you came to be the person you are.

Think back on the choices you made, the path that led you to where you are today, and recognize there may have been other circumstances that were just as influential to your development in better ways.

Perhaps your story isn’t one of somebody who suffered misfortune in your youth, but rather one of somebody who overcame incredible challenges.

“This may sound like semantics, but semantics matter in storytelling.”

Change your location.

If you move across the world, it’s safe to say your life story will be rewritten. But you don’t have to make that drastic a location shift to alter your story.

Think about the locations where you spend the majority of your time and consider how things might change if you altered those locations.

A different neighborhood, a new workplace, an alternate hang-out spot with your friends.

“What if you took the five places you spend most of your time and replaced three of them with new places where you did new things with new people?”

Sitcoms typically have all their scenes take place in the same couple locations because those are the situations in which the show is based. If they change those situations, they change the show.

The same is true for your life.

Give yourself new powers.

Your life story up to this point has been based in large part on the abilities you have developed — your powers. But, you can always learn new skills and these newfound powers can drastically change the course of your life.

They can be career related, a hobby, or passion, but stretching yourself and learning new things will also change the course of your life.

Change your supporting cast.

Who is the supporting cast in your life? What friends, family, and co-workers occupy the most space in your story?

Think about the influence they have on your life and how you feel about it. Is it positive? Negative? Distracting? Inspiring?

“Switching up the supporting cast in your life — or the ways you interact with them — can drastically change your story.”

End the chapter you’re in.

Most stories are told in chapters and every chapter has an end.

If your story isn’t heading the direction you want, look at what’s happening in your life and consider which chapters you can end.

“Ending a chapter creates space to begin a new one which takes your story in a fresh direction.”

Change your genre.

If you had to pick a genre for your life story, what would it be? Action? Comedy? Tragedy?

It’s a tough question to answer, but it reveals your perspective on the life story you’ve told yourself.

What would happen if you started to see your life through the prism of a different genre? If you made a conscious decision to change your tragic outlook to a comic one? Or if you chose to focus on romance over drama?

Make your end your midpoint.

As we get older, we settle into our lives, careers, and relationships and begin to feel our story has been written.

If you don’t like how it’s come together, that can be a problem.

But there’s a simple thing you can do to reframe your perspective and rewrite your story.

“Remember that wherever you are in your life right now is just the midpoint of the story — not the ending.”

In screenwriting, the story’s midpoint is where everything the hero thinks is happening in the story gets turned upside down and the hero realizes their story has actually just begun.

That’s not a bad way to think about the story of your life — no matter where you happen to be in it.

Fandom Is Broken

“The corporatized nature of the stories we consume has led fans — already having a hard time understanding the idea of an artist’s vision — to assume almost total ownership of the stuff they love. And I use that word ownership in a very specific sense — these people see themselves as consumers as much as they see themselves as fans.”

Continue reading →

What You Had to Do to Hang out with Ben Franklin

At 21-years-old, Benjamin Franklin created an interesting way to spend his Friday evenings.

In 1727, he gathered together a group of people— printers, surveyors, a cabinetmaker, a clerk and a bartender among them — to meet weekly and discuss ways to make themselves and their community better.

The club, which Franklin called a “Junto,” led to innovations such as volunteer fire-fighting clubs, improved security through night watchmen, a public hospital and even the first public library.

While their discussions were designed to cover a mix of personal, intellectual, business, and community topics, they were rooted in a set of 24 questions Franklin created.

If you wanted to be a part of the group and spend time with Franklin, these are the things you’d have to talk about.

The questions, which can be found in Franklin’s papers, are listed below along with some of the general areas they covered.

Even today, they’re not a bad starting point for any discussion you might have with people interested in improving our world.

You Had To Share Something You’d Learned

“Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?”

“What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?”

You Had To Be Interested In Failure As Well As Success

“Has any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?”

“Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?”

“Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?”

“Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?”

You Had To Have Some Gossip

“What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?”

“What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?”

“Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journeys, if one should have occasion to send by them?”

Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?

You Had To Want To Help People

“Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?”

“Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?”

“Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?”

You Had To Want To Change Things

“Have you lately observed any defect in the laws, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?”

“Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?”

You Had To Want To Network

“Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?”

“In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?”

You Had To Name Names

“Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?”

“Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?”

“Hath any body attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?”

“What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?”

You Had To Care About The Junto

“Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?”

“Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?”

“Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?”

10 Ideas For The Interested This Week: Issue #3

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” — Linus Pauling

 

I came across that quote the other day and it’s the perfect explanation of why I seek out other people’s ideas and share my own with the world.

It’s also the perfect kick off to this week’s newsletter — a collection of 10 things I think you’ll be better off for seeing.

Let’s get into it…

1. STOP LISTENING TO PEOPLE

“Beware the person who fears your evolution.”

This has become one of the most popular things I’ve ever written which I guess means people love being told to ignore other people.

In it, I explain why none of the people who tell you what to do know what’s best for you and you should stop listening to them.

2. MICHELLE GIELAN IS A PERSON YOU SHOULD KNOW

“We’re all broadcasters. Our words create our experience of the world.”

Michelle is a former broadcaster who now studies the science of happiness and has found some interesting things.

For example, if you consume negative news first thing in the morning you’re 27% more likely to have a bad day.

3. IF THIS DOESN’T INSPIRE YOU TO DO SOMETHING, NOTHING WILL

“Learn how to love losing.”

Gary Vaynerchuk is a force of nature and while he may not be for everybody, he should be. In this video, he rants about the importance of doing things instead of just thinking about what you’re “gonna” do.

As he says in the video, “Fuck your gonna.”

4. WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL RIGHT NOW

“Some of Katherine’s very best friends have never been to her house, or she to theirs.”

This Washington Post profile of a 13-year-old girl is a fascinating glimpse at how kids her age use technology, view the world, interact with their friends, and deal with a world that looks VERY different than the one previous generations encountered.

5. SALLY HOGSHEAD IS A PERSON YOU SHOULD KNOW

“Better is a mirage. It keeps you chained to the same way of working as your competition.”

Sally is an expert on what makes things fascinating. She applies this expertise to brands, individuals, and content of all sorts.

In my profile of her, you’ll learn everything from how to make your writing more fascinating to how to figure out your most valuable qualities.

But my favorite observation of hers may be that you don’t actually learn to be more fascinating — you unlearn boring. Also, that “different is better than better.”

6. THE ONLY BOOK I’VE EVER READ IN ONE SITTING

“Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”

I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin, but had never actually read his book The Dip until this week — when I read it in one sitting.

That’s the first time I’ve done that in my life and it was easy because the book is both amazing and brief (it only took about 90 minutes to finish it).

The premise of the book is that when you set out to do something you will ultimately hit a dip that comes after the excitement of starting it wears off and before the rewards of success arrive.

Most people quit things when they hit the dip and never get to the success, but those who push through can become the best. The book is designed to help you figure out when you should quit and when you should push through the dip.

That’s an incredibly oversimplified take on it, but trust me — it’s worth the 90 minutes it will take you to read it.

7. EVERYTHING IS PRO WRESTLING

“The audiences and the creators labor alongside each other, building from both ends, to conceive a universe with its own logic: invented worlds that, however false they may be, nevertheless feel good and right and amusing to untangle.”

This New York Times column makes an observation I’d never considered but makes a lot of sense — everything from pop culture to politics these days has become like wrestling.

We’re creating a world we WANT to believe in — even if it’s not based on truth.

8.SALES PEOPLE NEED TO BE STOPPED

“If your sales technique relies on outsmarting your clients, then you’re stupider than they are.”

I’ve had it with sales people (except for the one I’m about to marry of course — she’s an exception). The techniques most sales people use to try to sell me stuff are outdated, obnoxious, and ineffective.

So, I wrote up some suggestions for how they can do it differently.

9. JON WESTENBERG IS A PERSON YOU SHOULD KNOW

“Perfection is a game you can’t win, because the rules keep changing and you’re only playing against yourself.”

Jon is one of the most popular writers on Medium and in my profile of him you’ll find tips on everything from how to be more productive (hint: get mean) to why working for yourself is not freedom.

10. HOW DICE CLAY INFLUENCED CHRIS ROCK

“When you’re behind the curtain and you’re about to walk out I want you to remember what I told you — every comic wants you to fail. And then you use your other side of the brain and think about the family that’s been backing you, the people that love you all these years, and you go out and you kill them.”

Back in 2013 on the Howard Stern show, Andrew Dice Clay told a great story about some advice he gave to Chris Rock before his legendary HBO special and the importance of performance.

You can hear it at the 53-minute mark of this video.