When we go on holidays to Poland where Irina’s family live, there are a load of favourite spots we like to visit. One of them is the cinema. Coming from a small island, this is a pretty exciting outing; I have seen bigger screens in people’s living rooms than the ones in our local multiplex.
This last time we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’ve never been massively into the trilogy in the past, but wow, I loved it. The huge screen and thundering sound system certainly helped to be transported to other solar systems. We even bought home a jumper for little Sasha – he’s now a fan whether he likes it or not.
We all love a good story. What’s your favourite kind? Is it thrilling, adrenaline pumped movies, or novels narrating epic tales of love and tragedy that you can’t get enough of?
Why is it, that from even before we can speak, we are gripped somewhere deep down, right in our core by a well-crafted story? No matter our age, gender, ethnicity or background it’s the same for us all – we can’t get enough.
I think the answer is an exciting one. The reason, is that our lives too are supposed to tell a story. We all exist to live out an epic and exhilarating tale.
Life isn’t meant to be monotonous drudgery, but something worth talking about for generations after you. Is your life worth writing about? If the answer is ‘no’, don’t worry! Just get excited that that can be your future.
We get so drawn in by characters in films or books so that their world becomes our own, because we ourselves are made to be lead characters in a gripping story too. Deep down it’s what we all long for – to be a hero, one that overcomes incredible opposition to save the day; to be significant, to be a force to be reckoned with.
I don’t mean that we should be spending our time in hair-raising car chases or dangling off of cliffs by a fraying vine. But I do think that our lives should contain all the same themes that make an incredible tale – sacrifice, risk, danger, the unexpected, love, sorrow, fun, passion, friendship… isn’t that what really living is about?
This isn’t just for Disney. This can be real life. Why do some people have such exciting, influential lives that authors write books and directors make films about? Is there something special about these individuals? The answer is no, not really – they’re just people like you and me. The only difference is that they believe there is more to be had from life, more than what they see around them perhaps, and don’t let anything stop them pursuing it.
‘But how do I start?’ you’re thinking. ‘How do I live an exciting life that will leave a mark that lasts long after I am gone?’ This is a good question. It’s really easy to become stagnant, and find ourselves face down in a rut, grinding our way along, living for the weekend because the week stinks. How do we move on from that place? Here are a few thoughts I had.
1) We have to take responsibility for our condition. There is no one else to blame – if life is boring, it’s not the fault of our boss, friends, partner or family. We’re responsible for it, and there is a lot we can do about it.
2) Look at your life. Are you proud of what you spend most of your time doing, or is it a tedious grind that you have no passion for? If the latter is the case, perhaps you need to make a change. I’m not saying we should always quit our jobs if they are boring or unfulfilling – but I’m not saying we shouldn’t either. Do you want to be remembered as someone who spent 70% of her days doing something she just ‘put up with’?
3) Let yourself dream. What would you love to be doing with your life, if all the restrictions and barriers you perceive were brought down? Write down what you discover, then pick one and go about pursuing it – one small step at a time. Don’t leave it until later, go for it now. I heard someone say that you will only achieve as much as you are prepared to dream. I think they’re right. We all need a vision for our lives, something driving us that causes us to leap out of bed in the morning rather than hit snooze. Without that, we will do very little that’s really worthwhile.
4) Take risks! Don’t wait for everything to line up before you make a move. As Zig Ziglar said, ‘If you wait until all the lights are green before you leave home, you’ll never get started.’
The conditions will never be perfect, so set sail and leave the harbor anyway and enjoy the rush.
5) Step outside of yourself. I find the number one way of being guaranteed a story to tell at the end of the day, is to forget myself for a moment, and do something for someone else – perhaps someone I don’t know. Reaching out to strangers is always terrifying, yet exhilarating and fun.
Next time you’re in the supermarket, have a chat with the person serving you. I learnt this from my brother Nik. Any shopping experience with him is never dull. He’s always having banter with the checkout person, trying to get them to knock-back some spicy vegetable shot he’s just purchased, or to convince them that he’s worthy of discount as a loyal and valued customer.
You have all you need to live an exhilarating story. Boot out any thoughts that say anything otherwise. You were put here to leave a mark on the world – your own thing to be remembered for by those around you and even further afield. By all means be drawn into other worlds by narratives of love and loss, tragedy and triumph. But don’t think for a minute that those tales are supposed to stay on the page or on the screen. You are in a story, a very real story. Which character are you playing?
If you found this helpful, I’d love it if you could share it with your friends. You’re the best!