â€œLife is like a movie. Write your own ending – keep believing!â€
Jim Henson – 1936-1990, Puppeteer, Screenwriter and Producer
When I was a kid I read a lot of Choose Your Own Adventure books where the story was crafted in part by the choices I made as a reader. I liked the idea that I had some say in the outcome of the story. Want to go into the tunnel, go to page 34. Decide to take the path through the thicket, turn to page 56. Of course, sometimes I liked the choices I made and sometimes I didn’t. Often when the story ended abruptly or a choice went wrong, I would go back to the original page and choose the other path.
Many of us spend our lives living a Choose Your Own Adventure story, allowing someone else to create the story and then regretting the choices we have in front of us. We give up our power to create our own story and build the life we want to live.
Maybe your parents expected you to choose from a few “safe” career options and you began to believe those were your only choices. Or maybe you were told you weren’t good with numbers when you were a kid. Or all the kids in your class made fun of you because you played the flute in the high school band.
The point is the messages we receive throughout our lives can play a big part in how we live each and every day if we let them.
- Do you ever feel pressured to make a choice or turn down an opportunity, worried about what others may think?
- Do you have a set of rules about what is acceptable based on someone else’s story you heard over and over?
- Do you find yourself unable to take risks because you’re convinced the deck is stacked against you?
- How much time do you spend regretting the decisions you’ve made in your life, wishing you could go back and make different choices?
- Have you been living out someone else’s story rather than your own?
What if we took a page out of Jim Henson’s book and treated life like a movie instead? The movie world makes miracles happen every day. Characters fly through the air, explore the reaches of outer space, or hit a home run at the perfect time in the game. Movie makers write their own rules, telling the story that they want to tell. They decide the outcome of their story.
“Well that’s not real life,” you might argue. “That’s fiction and fantasy. You can’t ‘live’ that way”.Â
But what if we could? Maybe our imaginations just need to be a little bigger. The truth is we do have the power to craft our world and choose the characters that share in it based on the decisions we make every day.
Small things like how we focus our attention can yield huge dividends.
- We can choose to watch less TV and read more books.
- We can spend our lunch hour gossiping with a co-worker or taking a walk instead.
- We can choose to take a painting class or learn a new language.
- We can take time to appreciate 5 new things each day or find 10 more things to complain about.
- We can let someone ahead of us in traffic.
- Bake a casserole for an ailing neighbor.
- Eat more vegetables and less junk.
- Listen more and talk less.
- Spend less time worrying and more time doing.
The fact is we shape our world every day with hundreds of tiny choices that can either lead us to our dreams or keep us on the same path we’ve always walked. What kind of movie do you want to make? Are you willing to let go of all your old stories about why it’s not possible? Start writing your own movie, craft your own ending and never stop believing in the person you can be when you decide your own destiny.