The stories we tell ourselves

Afterthoughts: Mans Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

We should all be learning in public

Dark Light

Storytelling is the most human of traits yet it often is reserved for performance. I use the term performance loosely to encompass social gatherings, professional work, and displays of artistic intention. It should be used more often on ourselves, for ourselves. Though this idea has its roots in stoicism, its function extends much further than just building emotional resiliency.

The stories we tell ourselves is, in many ways, similar to when one people watches. Whether sitting on a bench, or out the window of a coffee shop sipping your macchiato, the mind can manifest some pretty incredible stories. A well-dressed man might be an up-and-coming fashion designer about to make it in world of high-end mens fashion having secured a runway show for fashion week. A group of students strolling by might have just finished their exams; one of them might have gotten into Harvard; one might have a travel-filled gap year planned; the other might be entering into the world of professional sports. Granted that these tales may be fantasy, it nevertheless entertains and is a bit of fun. Why not redirect the aim away from strangers onto ourselves. If a stranger saw us walking by, what story would they say about us? Or even if they saw us work out in the gym, eat at a café, or peruse a bookstore – I guarantee it would be more imaginative and positive than the one we would come up with for ourselves.

Why not start telling ourselves those kind of stories? It can be motivating. Instead of just going for a run, you are training for the Olympic trials; cooking some food turns into nourishing the senses with some sorcery; picking out what to wear becomes an exercise in creativity. The best part of it is that stories do not have to fit reality, we can make things up. It just makes things a little more fun and can help boost our moods. What is not to love?

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