This is the dramatic question that I am exploring in my next book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life, which I am currently writing. I find that as a culture, we are obsessed with the idea of change or bettering ourselves. It is a prevalent subject in books (where the intention of this is clearly stated in the title) and in our advertising, where the promise of it sells millions of products and services. Why do we want to change so much? I believe that it comes down to the desire to move out of discomfort, unhappiness, perhaps even pain and into comfort, happiness and pleasure.
What made me want to examine this idea of changing our life by changing our story? I am a story/career consultant and I have analyzed stories for 20 years now -- including 12 years as a studio executive. I have probably seen a protagonist change in over 5,000 stories at this point in my career. I see that in stories (in film, television, novels, etc.) we can create and manipulate the idea of change. We have the control to do it because we can write whatever outcome illustrates the idea of change.
So, if we can do it in the stories we write and the stories we tell, why can't we also do it in our own life stories? In a strong story, we see the protagonist change from the beginning to the end. First, he or she faces a dilemma. Then, a goal stems from the choice that our central character makes. This leads them on the journey to change. What causes the change? Usually, it's a series of obstacles that may often reveal a crack or a hole in the protagonist's philosophy or how they view or see their life. In a good story, we understand the wound that drives the character and the flaw that gets in their way.
We witness the character move through wanting their goal for ego-related reasons, getting over obstacles, having moments of self-reflection and finally shifting into a greater consciousness where they realize how the achievement of their goal can help the betterment of others in some way. What if we could do that in our own life? What if we could learn to be the heroes in our own stories and move through our obstacles knowing that, in time, the growth will move us into a greater awareness? We can achieve this if we are open to the idea of change. There is one very strong word that motivates change in story and in life: DESIRE.
What do you want to change? Why do you want to change it? These are questions that I am exploring in my upcoming book, and I hope that you discover these answers for yourself. I will share my own story as well as the stories of many others who have had major turning points in their lives -- for some, it moved them in a more authentic direction and motivated profound change, while for others the turning points had the opposite effect. So, my intention is to help you identify what you desire most so that you can bring about the change that you want in your life through changing "the script" of your story.
In my own life, after facing a dilemma that millions of us have faced -- losing a job after over a decade with the same company -- I have been able to bring about huge amounts of change on the professional side; however, I still have struggles with the personal side of my life, my story. For some reason, my turning point on the professional side filled me with more motivation to want change than the turning point on my personal side. On the professional side, my turning point has constantly motivated me while on the personal side my turning point has paralyzed me.
I've attempted to justify it internally by thinking, "Well, at least one side of my life is really working and I have to celebrate this instead of focusing on what is not working." Yet, I think that even thinking this way keeps my focus on the side that is working, thus allowing it to continue to prosper while the other side is just left feeling directionless and lacking an active endeavor. What I want to drive home for all of us regarding change is that it all comes down to being active in the pursuit of our goals.
As part of my own journey, as the author who has the desire to make changes to bring about a strong balance on both sides, I have tried inspiring change in different areas of my life. I've explored this through shifting routines in certain parts of my life. The first was with my approach to diet. Now, I know that many of us desire change by feeling the best that we can from the inside out. Well, this starts with the choices we make when it comes to food. I've completed The Quantum Wellness Cleanse for three years in a row, a wonderful book by Kathy Freston, which consists of a three-week cleanse eliminating gluten, sugar, all animal products, caffeine and alcohol. Every year that I do this cleanse, I see massive changes in my body, my mind and the way I feel. This triggers me to make more permanent changes in the foods that I choose on a daily basis. Another proactive move that I recently took to bring about change in my life was to join Deepak Chopra's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. What I've found is that the daily meditation provides an anchor for each day that I've done it. When things get stressful during the day, I just think of mantras and ideas that were part of the day's meditation, and I return to my blissful state of peace.
In doing the research and diving into the many books regarding personal change and exploring these ideas, I've recognized that writing down our story (and the way we want to see it) is the perfect platform to revise our personal story so that we can change our lives. How do we do this? First, we must identify what we desire to change and why we desire to change it, and then we must put a plan into action. Only this way, through true focus and intention, can we can bring about authentic change in our stories and thus, our lives.
For more by Jen Grisanti, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.