The Fantastic Life

Crafting Your Life Stories

Rule #1 of The Fantastic Life is Know Your Stories.  We each have the opportunity to craft, refine, and own the stories we tell ourselves and others.  In fact, it’s imperative to living a Fantastic Life.  Below is a great article on how to craft your life story and my takeaways:

— Craft your life stories every day. If you don’t, someone or something will rewrite them for you.

— “Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.”  – Marcus Aurelius.

— Have a review at the end of the day. Go back to your copy of The Fantastic Life Revisited and go through Rule #1 again and again. Keep going back and refining your life.  Make your stories work for you.
The Fantastic Life is not a “set and forget” kind of life.  The rules have to be revisited — which is why I completely rewrote The Fantastic Life Revisited nine years after The Fantastic Life came out. Your goals (and the stories that drive you) sometimes have to be rewritten and adjusted so that they continue to inspire and motivate you.  Life is always changing and so are your stories.  Keep going back and doing the work.



The Fantastic Life Rule #1: 
Know Your Stories
Unlike the stories that appear in books, your life stories get rewritten over and over again. And the best part is, there’s no true ending. You get to keep creating, drafting, and revising along the path to a Fantastic Life.


On crafting your life story
(originally posted on Medium but has been taken down)

Everybody has a narrative about who they are and what they are capable of. You probably tell yourself all kinds of things without even knowing it. I have a story about myself that I quit as soon as things get a bit hard.

During the first few years when I started my blog and worked towards becoming a professional writer, I would occasionally look at jobs. Especially when things didn’t work out. I would launch products in the first year, and if I didn’t earn the amount of money I wanted, I would get discouraged. My mind told me, “Just quit. It’s too hard. Go and get a job and you’ll be safe.”

But after looking at some jobs, I realized that if I can tell myself to quit, I can also tell myself to keep going. After all, achieving a worthwhile goal is not easy and requires perseverance.

The ancient Stoics were masters at changing the narrative. They looked at every situation in life as an opportunity to adjust the story we tell about ourselves. For example, when something bad happens to us — losing our job, failing to achieve a goal, getting yelled at, being made fun of — we often let it influence our self-image. We let bad things harm our emotions and well-being.

The Stoics believed in personal power. They believed that every person has the ability to give their own meaning to situations. As Marcus Aurelius famously said about bad things that happen to us: “Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.”

To anyone who hasn’t lived according to Stoic values, this is an alien concept. Society is brought up with the idea that every person has “emotional baggage.” We’re told that our past influences our present. What happened to us yesterday can scar our personality today. Sometimes it’s useful to process what’s happened in our past, and to try to work through it. But it’s also important not to let our stories about ourselves trap us.

Instead, the Stoics believed that you have the power, at any moment, to look differently at anything in life. You cannot change what happens to you. You can change the meaning you give to what happens. For example, when someone at work gives you the feeling you’re incompetent, you can say two things:

  1. This person is right. I’m no good.
  2. This person doesn’t know me. I’m doing my best, which is all I can do. I’m good with that.

The former is what causes emotional problems. The latter gives you peace of mind. Whether we like it or not, we all have this narrative about ourselves that continues to evolve over time. And often, it evolves in one direction. If you often talk negatively to yourself, you probably will only do more of that. But if you’re objective and not overly positive or overly negative, you’ll keep living a balanced life. And if there’s one thing we can’t get enough of, it’s balance.

Never forget: YOU create your own life story. YOU have the power to change your attitude at any given moment. Does that mean you can change your entire life in a moment? We all know that’s not realistic. But we also know that we can change our attitude because that doesn’t require much. Just a belief that it’s possible. All the best.

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