What stories shape your life?
Take a moment to think about that.
We all live based upon stories. Collective stories are the basis of culture and personal stories are the basis of how we view ourselves as individuals.
Stories are the underpinnings of human reality. Humanity is built upon stories. Stories shape our culture, our lives and the way we perceive the world.
It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false, if a story is believed, it becomes a blueprint of reality.
Every culture has stories that act as the very basis for how people live their lives.
In ancient times, mythology shaped the way people viewed reality, the world around them, society and themselves.
Any religious culture is dominated by the stories of that religion. People’s whole lives, down to the finest detail, are dictated by those stories.
Our modern western culture is based on a combination of science, religion and history (his-story). Science is constantly updated, disproving older theories, while failing to explain the “why” questions of our reality. Most organized religions are distortions of spiritual truths for purposes of control. And his-story is merely the story told by the winners of wars.
These cultural belief systems are attempts at explaining truth, at best. And at their worst, they’re attempts at control and manipulation. I’m not saying that all of these are false; I’m saying that regardless of being true or false, these stories shape our experience of reality and every aspect of how we live our lives.
Let’s take the scientific paradigm as an example. According to this story (again, I’m not saying it’s necessarily true or false):
You see, this is a STORY, or the background program that we run our lives by. And that’s not even getting into the stories of history, money, work, relationships, purpose, pleasure and everything else that makes up our belief systems. These things determine how we perceive and interact with reality.
Where does this story get us? Well, take a look at the world around you. Check out the “news.” If it seems a little disharmonious (which anyone with eyes can see), we have to start reevaluating the stories we’re living by.
What stories are you telling yourself? What is your identity based on? What labels do you identify with?
In the midst of the trend of collective stories, we have the personal stories we tell ourselves. These are our individual stories that shape the way we view and interact with the world.
Let’s use a man named Henry as an example, whose personal story might look like this:
I’m a white man.
I’m an American.
I’m a Christian.
I’m not good at math (because my third grade teacher told me that and I’ve believed her ever since).
I’m good at fixing things (because my dad said I was when I fixed his truck).
I’m an introvert so I don’t have many friends.
My favorite color is blue.
My favorite food is steak.
I’m a car mechanic, so I’m not good with computers.
I’m a lower middle class guy.
I go to work every day, then come home, drink a beer and turn on the tv to relax at night.
I don’t have time to eat healthy or work out.
I’m a fan of the Tennessee Titans.
I wear boots and flannels because I’m manly.
Ok, you get the point. This is all a STORY. Almost all of those things could be dropped and changed instantaneously. Our friend Henry could literally have a completely new life tomorrow, if he chose to.
Programming and patterns are incredibly hard to break for us humans. But simple awareness of the stories we tell ourselves puts us in the position to consciously choose what our stories are.
So what stories are you telling yourself? What identities are you carrying with you day in and day out? What patterns do you have? What are you building momentum towards?
Gain some awareness of the stories you’re telling yourself. Only then can you choose to change your life for the better.
Creating New Stories
We can create new stories in each moment.
It is a choice. But you have to first be aware to even know that you have a choice.
We can tell new tales and shape reality in our own way.
What do you want out of life? What is your purpose? What’s on your bucket list? Who do you want to be?
Be open and willing to change.
Find your vision and start working towards that. Only tell yourself stories which help to create that vision of yourself.
The Power of Fiction
The importance of stories is why I love fiction so much. Whether reading or writing, fiction helps to reshape our world.
Truths which exist beyond the limits of our collective analytical mind are able to be conveyed through fiction, metaphor and myth. Paradigm-shifting truths are often expressed in this way. Just take a look at any sacred text or brilliant piece of poetry.
Literary works can cut through and transcend cultural biases and blindness, giving the reader a taste of a completely “novel” reality (see what I did there?). It allows one to see outside of the box they’ve existed in their whole life, and presents the opportunity to step outside.
This is why I read and write a lot of fiction. If we change the stories we tell, we change how our world is shaped.
Want to get your hands on an example of a paradigm-shifting story?
You can get a free copy of my new book, Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth.
It’s on Kindle Scout right now, which is a platform that allows readers to choose what gets published by Amazon. Basically, books that a lot of people nominate and show interest in get published. So I need your help to get Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth out there. It only takes a minute of your time.
Here’s what I need you to do:
1. Go to this link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/WNJWEXEM3HEZ
2. Click “Nominate me”
And if the book gets selected for publishing, you get an early, free copy!
Let’s reshape our world.
– Stevie P