We create and re-create our life in the stories we tell others about ourselves and in the stories we tell ourselves. Several years ago I heard Ben Zander, conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, speak about the impact of our answer to a simple question most of us are asked many times each day – “How are you?” As we reply to this question from others, we also signal to ourselves how we feel about our day, our mood, our physical condition, our life. Why then, do we so often respond automatically, unaware that we are choosing our perspective about whether life is good or bad, full of hope or full of fear, happy or sad?
In recent weeks I have had the good fortune of meeting many new people and have become aware of how I answer their questions about me and about my life. I have also realized that some responses are automatic, like clicking the “play” button for the well-worn account of my past. These conversations with new people are causing me to take a fresh look at my old stories, especially the ones that are largely untold to others, but that have helped form my beliefs about who I am. I recognize now that the most difficult and challenging times can be framed through the lens of the pain I felt at the time, or reframed through a lens of gratitude for the lessons that came as a result.
Living through painful experiences offers us the possibility of welcoming a new beginning, the next phase of our life in which we are wiser, stronger and even more resilient. When we look back on some of our most challenging times, we can acknowledge the pain they brought while also recognizing some of the positive changes they sparked.
So as we tell our story, as we talk about our life (or even our day) we can choose to remember that we are creating our current and future reality as we speak. We can recognize that the power of creating the life we want and deserve lies fully in our thoughts and our words NOW.