Did you know that you can improve the quality of your life by applying the same writing techniques to your life that you use to write a good story?
This is because we experience and remember our lives much like a story. And you're the author of that story—which means you can choose what it is to be about. Alas, many do not fully partially in this process and let their lives be authored by others, which can result in unhappiness or discontent. In this post, I show you how to change that.
To create a fulfilling life, you must take control and become the conscious author of your life.
And that means to cut, edit, and trim down to the life-threads that matter most, and then live after them. This is to live authentically. In fact, "authentic" and "author" are related words: To live authentically is to author your life along the threads that matter. In my books The Steps of Essence and Be True, Be Happy I call this "authentic authorship."
When you look at your life as a story, you will find some themes that empower you and others that limit you. You want to resolve your limits and strengthen what empowers you; this will give style and structure to your life.
To find your major themes, use these techniques from The Steps of Essence and Be True, Be Happy:
- Use a life-story-log in which you outline your major accomplishments as well as failures and disappointments. Seeing everything together will help you to discover overall patterns. (Exercises 1.16, 2.11, 3.23)
- Your limiting themes show themselves during your emotional struggles (Exercises 2.2 – 2.5). What do you struggle with? Resolve these—they hold you back.
- Your empowering themes show themselves when you are in complete flow with an activity (Exercise 108) Note what you’re working towards in these moments.
- Determine your authentic values and interests—these represents key threads in your story (Exercise 3.22, 3.20).
- Think about what attributes describe you (Exercise 3.17). These also point to possible themes.
Once you find your life themes, you can resolve or strengthen them using proven techniques from psychology, in particular a process called ACT (read about ACT here), which stands for: use Appropriate ways to resolve and Accept (Step 2); Choose what matters and focus this into an authentic life-vision (Step 3); then Take action to bring your vision to life (Step 4 and Step 5).
Here, “Appropriate ways to resolve and Accept” include
- changing how you think when you encounter a negative trigger and reprogram your behavior to be more coping.
- accepting your emotions as they come up by simply being mindful of them, until you can move forward in your life.
The point is not to be able to grind your struggles into nothingness, but instead to resolve them just enough so that there is an emotional opening that let’s you move forward with your life in a direction that you value.
And once that opening is there, you need something to move forward to, something worthwhile to you: this is your Authentic Life Vision, which you Choose from the life-themes that matter most to you. This Vision becomes the backbone of the story that you are to write, and which you bring to life by Taking Actions.
At that point you truly are the author of your life! You will be empowered beyond measure.
In The Steps of Essence, I lay out many helpful techniques and over 150 exercises to help you with this process.