Maybe you’ve seen the inspirational quotes on Pinterest, “change your thoughts and
it’ll change your world” - truth is, they’re right.
I am not a psychologist or coach, not a doctor or preacher; however, through my
experience, I’ve learned to live my life by that quote. When my sisters and I had bad
dreams we’d go to our parents’ room, wake them up, and ask them to make them go
away. My dad would turn to us and say, “It’s okay, just change your mind” … um ok
thanks dad nice try, you’re saying I am supposed to simply tell the wicked witch in my
dream to kick it?! Fast forward a few decades (or more) and he was so right.
Everything is a choice. Your mood, your reaction, and your dreams.
His theory was simple, change your narrative. I have to add here - my dad, a dentist by
day, but a storyteller in his free time writing movie scripts as a side hobby. He believed
you can fall back asleep and choose a different ending to your dream. So you can
choose to make the wicked witch, monsters under your bed, troll in your closet -
disappear. His theory was everything is a choice. Including what mood you choose to be in,
your perspective on a situation that’s bothering you … what happens in your
nightmares and the goblins under your bed.
At the end of the day, your choices are the only thing you truly have control over.
What does all this mean? Choose your own story. So you can choose to not let
something or someone ruin your day. You can choose a relationship and put in the
effort. You can choose to be happy and turn that frown upside-down - literally.
Seems simple doesn’t it? But in practice, it's harder than you think. Thankfully I have a
few examples to help:
Choose your response
Your mood, tone, and actions in response to a situation are the only thing you have
control over - it’s a choice. You can choose how you react. If someone is angry,
frazzled, stressed, or just plain annoying - is it helpful to match their energy? If you
choose to remain calm and choose your words to express yourself respectfully - it’s
very likely the outcome of that situation will be a whole lot better than if your volume
rose with theirs. Sometimes it’s helpful to pause, consider your options, and choose if
the situation is worth the battle or if there’s a response that may change the narrative.
How you respond can redirect how a situation unfolds.
Choose your relationship
A relationship - friendly, romantically, or otherwise - is a choice. You choose to be in it
or not. It takes work, in any type of relationship, from both parties, every day,
choosing to be in it. When friends make plans and time and time again one friend
doesn’t show, doesn’t participate, doesn’t care - are you going to continue to invite
them? They have shown you they aren’t choosing the friendship and you will very
likely (and probably rightly so) choose to move on. In a romantic relationship, past the
sweet honeymoon stage, life gets real and can get hard. You have to choose to work
through challenges with your partner. You’re not going to always agree. No person is
perfect. We are all human. But if you both choose your relationship and choose to put
in the work you will be able to work through it.
Choose your story
Let’s go back to changing the narrative of your nightmares. Choices, no matter how
small, can lead to big turns in your story. Dad wrote a message on my graduation card
I will never forget, “life isn’t about being there, it’s about the journey and what
happens along the way”. Life is in the here and now. And what you choose now will
impact how your story evolves. Do you have to plan for your future? - yes, absolutely.
But having lost my Dad young, I came to understand the importance of being present
and choosing to live in the moment. Looking back, I can take comfort in knowing he
chose every day to live his best life and do the best he can. His day-to-day is what
made him the happiest. He didn’t compare himself to others. His work, his family, his
hobbies - in all aspects was completely content because he consistently chose a life he
loved. And that I think is the ultimate goal.
At the end of the day, your choices impact your journey and your ability to appreciate
the story along the way. Make your own choices, be thoughtful about them, and shape
the story you want.