Deciding What Your Story Means

I sneezed. The young man working in the airport store said, “God bless you.” I replied, “Thank you. Already has.”

The young man then challenged me. He said, “What does that mean?” I said, “I am blessed. I have great wife, great kids, and I am happy.” I didn’t expect to be challenged any further, but he wasn’t done. He walked around the counter and said, “How can you be happy?” I answered, “I’ve always been happy. Aren’t you happy?”

“I could never be happy,” he said. “It’s impossible.” He went on, “Well I guess I could be happy if I had money. Lots of money, like thousands of dollars.” I said, “Look, you’ve had thousands of dollars and it didn’t make you happy, and that money is gone now.” He said, “You’re right. I spent that money.”

He said, “I would be happy if I had millions of dollars then. Millions and millions of dollars. That would make me happy.” I said, “No, you wouldn’t be happy. Money is an amplifier. If you are five star, gold plated jerk, with money you are a five star, gold plated, rich jerk. But, if you think money will make you happy, it’s not that difficult to get.”

He said, “I can never have money?” I bit, “Why not?”

“Because I didn’t go to college, and I got terrible grades in high school. My parents were divorced,” he said. I said, I know millionaires that have that same story. He said, “Yeah, will I started doing drugs when I was eleven years old.” I said, “Well, you’re not eleven years old, and that isn’t stopping you from doing anything you want to now.”

I asked this young man how old he was, and he told me he was 24. I told him that his excuses for not being happy were stories that he was telling himself, and that a lot of people decide to frame those stories as the reason they changed their beliefs, their behaviors, their actions, and their results. I shared with him that I personally shared a good part of his same story myself, that happiness is a choice, and money has very little to do with it, other than offering freedom and choices.

I finished our conversation telling him that happiness is a decision you make, and it is mostly made up of being grateful, including being grateful for the adversity that allows you to accept the challenging circumstances and discomfort with producing the results you are capable of. Sadly, he didn’t believe a word I said. He likes his story too much to consider another view.

It’s very difficult to let go of our stories. The decision you have to make about your story is what frame you use to tell it. If you use a negative frame, your story is an excuse for what you believe is wrong with your life. If you tell it with a positive frame, your story is the reason you grew through your adversity and are now in a different place.

What story do you tell using a negative frame as an explanation for why you don’t have what you want?

How would your story be different if that story was the reason why you started taking the actions that moved you closer to your goals?

Filed under: Excellence

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