The stories you tell yourself determine your days (and your life)
I’m pretty sure that you woke up this morning with a story in your mind about how your day will unfold, and the story you chose largely depends on your internal landscape – not on reality. Today’s story can be inspiring or self-defeating: if you are in a great mood, you’ll probably choose a good story for today, appreciative of all that life offers you. But if you’re tired, you’ll likely weave a darker story, in which work feels overwhelming, your kids are far from perfect and your relationship not right enough. But your stories are not facts, they’re a perception influenced by your inner climate.
I woke up one morning last weekend in a foul mood. Everything just looked wrong for no real reason. On top of it, the day was cloudy and my mood immediately worsened. I got up with a choice: carry my bad mood through the day, ruin it for my partner and myself and end up sulking on opposite sides of the house, or realize that by becoming aware of my internal story, I could decide to change it. So I sat with my journal and asked myself how I wanted to feel, and how I could feel that way. My answers? I wanted to feel free and have a good day. So how could I feel that way? First thing in my mind was to get out and walk in nature. So I tiptoed into my clothes and left for a long walk in the woods and across fields… After a while, my mood shifted and I suddenly became aware of fun, inspiring possibilities for the day. When I got home, I felt good and we decided to drive to a small town for an easy brunch by the river… We were rained on, happy to be outdoors under a large umbrella. And when the sun came out, we walked by the river, and napped on the flat rock (in the picture)… That day had become fun, uplifting, freeing and wonderful.
My point is that the stories we choose have incredible power; they build moods, attitudes and expectations. If your story calls for bad things, you’ll be acutely aware of everything that could go wrong and focus on that. If your story calls for a happy morning after a great weekend, it’s likely to be that way… But once you become aware of your story, you get to choose if you want this particular one – or another one… A bad mood, a cloudy day or a bowl of cereal dropped over your clothes won’t determine a bad day.
Your choice of story determines how you’ll carry yourself through your day and maybe even through weeks or months of your life, if you decide to choose a similar story every day. You get to choose whether you’ll feel defeated by worries, or enjoy what is now. You get to choose whether you’ll have a great or a bad day. Your choice. Your day. Your life.
Learn to look at today with excited eyes: right now, you are rich with health, life, people, belongings and possibilities. There’s lots of life, lots of choices ahead of you. You can start with something as simple as being kind to your kids, spouse or bus driver this morning, instead of rushed and frantic. As easy as appreciating this moment, this day. Small moments of awareness, kindness and happiness, one at a time, that change the whole picture.
Your days are not predetermined, and a lot depends on the stories you choose to tell yourself. Your story today will impact your attitudes and how people respond. It will impact the choices you make about your day, and their logical outcomes.
What story will you choose for yourself today?
How do you want to feel, today?
What will you do to feel that way?