Recently I was reflecting on my day with my partner, Julie-Roxane. Here were the highlights:
On the surface the day was rather mundane, yet we both felt the day had been incredibly fulfilling. What made it so?
Here’s a more detailed look at that day:
OK, one more, slightly different look at the same day:
All three descriptions were accurate but it’s the third version which gave my day a sense of meaning.
What I think sometimes goes misunderstood is why. It’s not just about describing what actually happened. It’s about connecting the dots between what I did and what I value that made it a better story for me. Much of what made that day meaningful actually happened before it ever started.
This is probably why a younger me would have written that third version off as “just a story,” an embellishment, a shallow mind trick. Because if someone just hands you that third story it does feel shallow. Why wouldn’t it? You didn’t do any digging.
What a younger me would have missed though is that choosing the first version is also telling a story; in this case that what I did wasn’t meaningful. That is, if he had chosen it at all. More likely, he’d never have realized that he had a choice, that the story could be told another way.
Learning to tell better stories is a skill. It means taking the time to know my values, reflecting on our experiences and sifting out the 99% that isn’t important. It means making the effort to go beyond what happened to why it mattered. It means taking a stand because stories always reveal the most about who’s telling them.
Our stories are drafts, never finished. We can amend them, rewrite them or find completely new ways of telling them. If we don’t like the story being told it’s up us to find a different one. It’s hard work sure, but what’s the alternative?
Originally published at www.alasdairplambeck.com.