How to live a better story
One of the many pitfalls that lead to a monotonous life and marriage is the failure to discover the story you’re living within. I’ve written on this idea before on by asking this question: “If your marriage were a movie, would you want to go see it?”
What about your life? It’s a simple question, but it’s difficult to answer (at least it seems difficult).
Morning after morning, we begin the same routine, the same job, the same chores, only to go to bed and repeat it all the next day – the next week – the next month. Life can easily become a series of routine. Conversations. Hobbies. Sporting events. Kid’s activities. Date night. Sex.
While life may be busy, and you may even have a good relationship in the midst of this routine – do you find yourself with the sinking feeling that something’s missing?
Our materialistic society claims the answer to what’s missing is found in owning the “right” gadget/car/house/clothes/3D TV. (imagine – reality TV in 3D – do we ever need to leave our house again?)
The reason routine so easily overtakes us is our forgetting that we are living within a story. And most people have a boring life because they’re living in a boring story.
According to Robert McKee, the guru of story, there are certain rules or principles that must be present in order for a story to be good.
Three rules for a good story
1. There has to be a main character you care about.
That’s you. How well are you caring for yourself in your story? Many stories are derailed when you don’t care about the main character. It happens when you live through your children, or marriage, or job.
You are more than a parent, spouse, and worker. You are also someone who had dreams as big as the moon. What were they? What are they? Are you living them?
2. There has to be some sort of conflict.
If you’re married, this one is probably already present. If you have kids, then you can surely check this one off the list. Even if you’re single with no kids, life is still full of conflict. It’s unavoidable.
How much effort do you spend trying to avoid conflict in your life? Not doing something because of the work or risk or unknown involved? What would happen if you took the risk and stepped fully into the unknown? A good story involves a main character who leans into the conflict — who jumps into it with both feet.
3. The story must have a climactic ending.
Photo by joiseyshowaa
This is not your death, it’s the milestones you achieve in life. The realization of dreams. The conquering of fears.
There are many climactic endings throughout life and marriage. Starting your own company. Going back to school to finish your degree or change career paths. Traveling around the world.
If you’re living a boring story, it’s no wonder that you may wake up several years into marriage and feel lost.
I’ve felt this way lately — kinda down and floundering. I thought this was related to schedules and the hectic pace of life, but now I think it’s more related to a longing for something more. Something beyond the routine.
Here’s a possible solution: Ask yourself “what if?”
What if you asked yourself a series of questions? Things like … What if you ran a marathon? What if you renewed your marriage vows? What if you quit your job? What if you brought home a puppy today? What if you and your family adopted a child?
If your story has gotten boring, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself the what if question.
Within the answer, you’re going to find the keys to a better story.
If you’re interested in my answers to the what if question … I can’t tell you yet, but it’s already added a great twist to my family’s story. If you want to hear what turn our story has taken, be sure to subscribe to Simple Marriage. Shameless plug I know.
Try this. In the comment box, brainstorm five “what if?” questions as quickly as you can. Take this assignment seriously, but do it fast. What will happen is that you’ll begin to dream, you’ll stop thinking of life as stagnant, and you’ll be reminded that life, for the most part, is what you make of it.
This idea comes from Donald Miller, be sure to read his newest book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” for more.
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