We don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to see that the stories we tell ourselves affect how we experience our lives. Are we on a ‘Hero’s Journey’ or are faceless forces driving the plot? What kind of inner dialogues are we hearing? “It doesn’t matter what I do”; “May I benefit from this precious opportunity”; “Make that a double” . . .
Our stories tell us who we are and what the world is; they proclaim how everything fits together; and sometimes they tell us that our chances in life were set in place before the first scene got underway. After all, we’re all born into a particular family, neighborhood, class, race, country, and have a particular mind that may or may not equip us to succeed in the society in which we find ourselves. Or is that too just a voice-over narration?
The phrase “Change your mind, change your life, change our world” suggests that our attitude toward life influences our experience and that the world might be different if we looked at it differently. The glow of “falling in love” and the gloom of being dumped both illustrate this connection, but unfortunately it seems that neither love nor rejection fall under our control.
But why should we worry about the role stories play? Because our whole world is racing toward a dim future and most of us believe that there is nothing we can do about it. (Individually and globally our stories cry out for revision.) Our narrative arcs are building the Ark of our planet’s future, for it is in the vision that guides us that we can create a place for what we value most.
Our world seems to be operating out of a conviction that there is not enough to go around and that we need to get in line with our hands out. But as long as a ‘hungry me’ is strung out at a distance from what ‘I want’, disappointment will be inevitable. An alternative strategy–proposed by spiritual traditions around the world—is to ask “How can I help?” Through this simple shift in perspective we may find ourselves transformed from dissatisfied customers into creative entrepreneurs.
Generosity rescues us from having to wait empty-handed outside the gate and can instill a deep connection between our world and ourselves. Instead of inhabiting a pre-fabricated construct of unforgiving surfaces there arises a feeling of belonging in and being known by an open and responsive realm. This new story may even cast us in a role in which we are not the main protagonist. However when our story’s narrative arc traverses the centuries and weaves an engaging journey across a sea of new understanding, both captain and passengers will be in good hands.