The Narrative: How to Live a Better Story

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss

Natural Tendencies 

Let’s agree on one thing. The future is an uphill climb. Whatever vision, dream, or goal you have, requires you to climb. However, we naturally gravitate to habits that take us down the slopes of life into despair, discouragement, and distress. In reminding you that anything worthwhile is uphill, I am encouraging you to understand this one thought: when you choose to take the hill, you are opting to do what is difficult to reach something worthwhile.

What Is My Hill?

To scale the mountain waiting for you and reach its summit, taking the hill is key. And there are many hills to conquer as you climb your mountain. Actor Matthew McConaughey says, “Be brave, take the hill. But first, answer the question, ‘What is my hill?'” I believe McConaughey is on to something with this short but powerful question. Knowing your hill makes the shades of uncertainty dissipate as the clarity of motive and intention comes into view. Why should you be clear about your hill? To ensure you don’t misappropriate your most valuable nonrenewable resource; time for which has no rewind button. 

A Running Narrative 

To stay fit, I enjoy taking long runs outside. However, the fun of running outside is sometimes stolen by the myriad of hills I encounter. I have a tendency of thinking and talking myself out of taking the hill. I slow down as a plethora of narratives floods my mind. 

This hill is too high.

Maybe I should walk up the hill and then run down the hill on the way home.

If I run up this hill, will I have enough energy to get home?

Is there a way to avoid this hill?

But a better narrative is initiated. Starting as a whisper but growing in strength is,” You can take this hill.” This one thought gives the buttress to stay focused until I have taken the hill. Here is a little secret that I have discovered: It feels good to take the hill whether in running or in life. 

When you think of your hill today, what narratives flood your mind? Self-defeating thoughts? Confidence-building thoughts? Your most dominant thoughts determine not only how you view the hill, but whether you take it or not.  Here are two types of narratives I believe we all encounter and must overcome as we climb our mountains. 

Your most dominant thoughts determine not only how you view the hill, but whether you take it or not.

Emotional Narratives

Relationships and finances are two areas that our emotions can cast a dark shadow. Do your emotions dictate your behavior in your relationships and financial decisions? When this occurs, our thoughts are sabotaged as our emotions take over and hold us hostage. Thus, our progress is stunted.

Creating an Alignment 

Our emotions can lock us in a vicious cycle of destructive habits. Our low emotional state makes us bottom feeders in the sea of life. We remain campers as our future rests on a precarious ledge. If most of our relational and financial behavior is predicated on how we feel, not just on what we know, how do we align our thinking and feeling to create a better way of choosing? 

Start by asking, why am I feeling this way? This pause-to-ask approach can save you from dispersing negativity into your relationships or ruining your financial plan. Then ask, if what I feel is real, what thoughts do I need to inject in order to change this feeling? 

Conclude with this final question, with this new way of thinking and feeling, what is the wise choice in this situation? What hill are you facing in this season of life? As wisdom takes the driver’s seat, your low emotional state loses its controlling edge. As you practice this, you will keep climbing on days your narrator tells you to camp. 

Environmental Narratives

If, for example, you grew up in a home where excuses were made repeatedly, more likely you will discover the same modus operandi when you face challenges. Or, if alcohol was how problems and sorrows were drowned, you will be more apt to reach for the same when the waters of life get choppy. At times, our emotional state is a product of our environment. Suppose anger and yelling were how you were conditioned to communicate, more than likely you will become a repeat offender in your current relationships. Many of us are miles and years away from where we grew up yet we are tied to patterns of living engraved into our minds and hearts by those formative years. By initiating a better narrative we can live a better story.

Many of us are miles and years away from where we grew up yet we are tied to patterns of living engraved into our minds and hearts by those formative years.

Live To Tell a Better Story

How do we change the narrative? Again, we apply the principle of asking better questions to not only arrive at better answers but also better decisions. Here is one question to ask; do I want to relive the same story I saw growing up or do I want to live to tell a different and better story? When we relive the same stories we become statistics. But when we live to tell a better story we become game-changers.

Final Thought: One thing is certain. Great places await as you change the narrative and climb your mountain. 

Keep on keeping on

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