What's Your Story?
When I meet people for the first time, and once formal introductions are out of the way, I love to pry into their life stories. To have them tell me who they are, and where they've been, and where they're going. I want to understand what matters to them.
Telling stories creates an emotional connection, and bridges the gap between us. Why is that? Because everyone loves a good story. Stories tell us who we are. They inspire us, connect us, animate our thought process, give us pictures of who we aspire to be. Stories are how we relate to others.
We all have our own stories. They have ups and downs, wins and losses, drama and comedy. No matter what plot each of our stories may follow, deep down we all want one thing: we want our lives to matter. We want our stories to be of significance. Nobody wants to feel like the world wouldn't miss him if he never lived.
Have you ever seen the classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life? It's the story of George Bailey, a man who dreams of traveling the world and building things, but who instead stays in his sleepy town because he continues to do what he believes is right for others. Then there's a point in the movie where George experiences a moment of crisis, and he feels like everyone around him would be better off if he had never been born. What he's really saying is: his life doesn't matter. The great twist happens when George, with the help of angel, gets to see what his town would look like if he never existed. Without him, it's a dark and negative place. George starts to realize the positive impact he had made because time after time, he took action to do what he knew was right and help people. And like the angel tells him, 'each man's life touches so many other lives.'
Have you ever looked at your life from that angle? Have you ever thought about what you want your life's story to be? Do you believe you can live a life of significance, that you can do things that matter? With every ounce of my being, I believe that the answer is YES. You have it in your power to make your life a great story.
Regardless of nationality, opportunity, ethnicity, or capacity, we can live a life of significance. We can do things that matter, that make the world a better place. I hope you believe that. And if you don't now, I hope you do.
But don't let the word "significance" intimidate you. Significance has nothing to do with wealth, or fame, or nobel prizes, or presidential campaigns. To be significant, all you have to do is make a difference with others, wherever you are, with whatever you have, day by day.
What’s the key to a life that matters? Living each day with focus and intention. When you do, there’s almost no limit to what you can do. You can transform yourself, your family, your community and your country. When enough people do that, they can change the world. When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters.
In 2006, Reese Witherspoon gave an emotional acceptance speech when she one the best actress Academy award for portraying June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. Reese said people would often ask June how she was doing, and she would respond, "I'm trying to matter". She went on to say she knew exactly what June meant, because she was also trying make her life matter.
You can make your life matter, by living a good life, and by doing work that means something to somebody. And isn't that what all of us want? And if this is true, why doesn't this happen for everybody?
Most people want to hear and tell good stories, but they don't realize they should be the good story. That requires living with intention. When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters.
When unintentional people see the wrongs of the world, they say, "something should be done about that." They react emotionally or intellectually, but they stop there. Intentional people say, "I should do something about that," and they jump in the story themselves.
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." -Albert Einstein
Why do so many of us do nothing? Because we see all the wrongs and injustice in the world, and we become overwhelmed. The problems feel too big for us to tackle. You think, "I'm just one person." But one person is a start. It's all it takes to make a change and start helping others. One person can inspire another person, and those people can work together, they can become a movement, they can make an impact.
We should never let what we can't do stop us from doing what we can do. A passive life does not become a meaningful life. When people say things like, "life is meaningless," what they're really saying is they feel their life is meaningless. They've chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and they are projecting their boring lives on the rest of the world.
If you're reading this and thinking to yourself, "that's me!", "life is meaningless," "my existence is unremarkable," "I wish my life were less boring," I have good news for you: this doesn't have to be your story. If your life isn't as rich, or meaningful, or significant as you want it to be, you can change it. You can start writing an amazing story, starting today. Become the main character of your story about making a difference.
Uncommonly Positive is about living your best story. What do you want yours to say?
Make your life a great story.