Crafting our lives is the ultimate form of expressing ourselves, and we all do it, every single one of us. The decisions we make on a daily basis form the shape of our story, both in our own heads and in the outside world. That’s one reason why I’m so big on priorities: your priorities can quite literally determine the direction your life follows. Our priorities are the guiding vision for the complex artistic creation of who we are.
Am I saying that we have ultimate control over all aspects of our lives? No, of course not. Bad stuff sometimes happens no matter what we do. We get sick, someone else makes a decision that affects us badly, we’re stuck in a snow storm at the worst possible moment. At this point it seems like I know more people who grew up in dysfunctional families than in fairly healthy ones, and surely we’d all choose a happy childhood if we could.
But what we can choose is how we’re going to react to the bad stuff. We can decide whether we’re going to stay buried under a ton of badness or whether we’re going to do our best to rise above it. We can give up in defeat or we can try an alternate route to get to where we want to be. We can pass any cruelty we’re given onwards to someone else, or we can make the effort to be a different, kinder sort of person. Hard experiences can motivate us to take that last almost-impossible leap because through them, we come to learn our own strength and capabilities.
And when we aren’t buried in hardship, then we can funnel all of our extra energy into crafting our lives into stories we’re proud to tell. After all, we’re playing the starring roles in our own lives – personally, I’d rather find my movie satisfying and maybe even a bit intriguing. Whatever we’re deciding right this minute is our one sure chance to determine what happens next. Right now my decision is this: I can write this blog post, which has at least a small chance of helping and entertaining other people, or I can mope around the house because my tooth hurts and I’m feeling a little sick from the medicine I have to take for it. It’s definitely more interesting for me to take the first option.
The great thing is, we get chances over and over again throughout the span of our lives. So even if I decide to mope instead of write, I can change my mind ten minutes from now. Or I can change my mind tomorrow, or next week. If I’m shy but want to connect with people, it could take me years to make enough baby steps that I’m satisfied with my social life. But each one of those baby steps counts for something, and even when I take a step backwards, that doesn’t mean I can’t start going forward again tomorrow. Every moment is an opportunity to guide your life in an interesting or potentially fulfilling direction.
Penelope is absolutely right in that this practice takes a lot of creativity. The more creatively you can think about your life, the more the potential for awesomeness. Sometimes creative thinking can get us around seemingly impassable obstacles. Sometimes creative thinking can allow us to imagine how we can behave differently, or to put ourselves in another’s place so we can more deeply understand their experience. Creativity is what adds the spice to life and helps to encourage and support change.
What kind of life do you want to create? What choice are you making right now that will push you in the right direction?