Living a Good Story - the big and small pictures

With less than a week to go I’m feeling very excited about our Live a Good Story 2017 programme. But what do we mean when we say Live a Good Story? For us, it can be lived out in the big picture or on a very simple everyday level.

The Big Picture

Quite simply, on a broader level living a good story is about recognising that we are the authors in our own unfolding story and it is up to us whether we live out a good story, something worth sharing and talking about, or something that is far less satisfying. At our events and on our podcast we hear from people who have done all kinds of interesting and inspiring things – some of these are big things, some much smaller, but they have lived with an approach and an attitude that has made things happen. It might be a project they’ve started, a relationship they’ve invested in, a way they’ve responded to a challenge or difficulty or simply living with a lot of heart and love. We never wanted Share Your Story to just be about hearing good stories, but about encouraging people to go ahead and live a good story, in their own way, in their own context. This doesn’t mean doing something big or always succeeding, in fact, it may be doing something quiet and unseen or simply facing up to a big challenge. But it is about moving towards that thing, that approach, that posture.

At the start of a new year there is always much talk of new year’s resolutions. We know all the classics. But very often these ‘resolutions’ are left abandoned, a disappointing and possibly guilty weight that we leave behind somewhere before the middle of January. These ideas, our struggle to do the things we really want to, the collective (and very human) desire to live a better story and the desire for community led us to start Live a Good Story 2017. We have 9 people signed up so far, a lovely little group of fellow travellers, each very different but each on the path to living a better story. This Saturday we’ll join together for a day workshop as we consider the key elements that make a good story and what they mean for our lives:

-          Facing up to a challenge.

-          Changing for the better.

-          Making a difference in the world.

-          Involving other people.

-          Achieving something real.

After the all day workshop we’ll meet monthly for coffee to support, encourage, dream, plan and have some accountability about where we’re at on the path. It will be interesting, inspiring, reflective, challenging and a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to getting started. But while we’re thinking about the big picture, living a good story can also be lived out on a much smaller level...

The Small Picture

My wife drew this for me after so that I wouldn't forget to live by it... It sits next to my bed now.

My wife drew this for me after so that I wouldn't forget to live by it... It sits next to my bed now.

A few years ago I was in Holland with some friends walking alongside a canal in the countryside and we came across a group of teenagers and young students jumping in from the bridge. It was a hot day and it looked like a lot of fun. But I didn’t have anything to swim in or a towel, I didn’t know any of the people jumping and it felt like as a grown-up I should probably be beyond this… In a very classically ‘me’ move, I decided that it wasn’t practical to join in, and besides it was easier not to.

I’d spent the last few weeks thinking (and talking to anyone who would listen) about the idea of living a good story, and my wife took this opportunity to shoot me with my own gun. “What’s the better story here”? There was only one answer. Instead of this day being a pleasant but forgettable one I’ve instead got a treasured memory of great fun and living the better story. I stripped down to my boxers and, joined by one of my friends, jumped into the Canal from the (deceptively high) bridge. It was as it looked – great fun and refreshing, and it also made a connection with some local people who I would never have met otherwise. I spent the next twenty minutes jumping in and clambering my way back up the wooden bridge to do it all again.

Other people smiled and laughed as they walked past. Doubtless some of them wished they could join in too but had a reason not to. And I had a great time.

It would have been easier to walk past. But that would have been the end of it. Asking the question ‘what’s the better story here?’ can be a useful tool in the day to day. Does the story go better with walking past that homeless guy you see everyday or with sitting down with him over a coffee? Is it a better story to go to that new class, or start learning that new skill, or to buy that new instrument or with deciding that it’s easier not to? Does the character in the better story pursue the love of their life, or remain silent in hope something pans out somehow?

We make some big decisions in life, but much more often we make lots of small decisions. So I’d encourage you, next time you aren’t sure what to do, or you do want to do something and that part of you says ‘it’s easier not to’, ask yourself the question – which of these is the better story?

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Live a Good Story starts this Saturday 7th January, 9.30am at the Happy Startup School in Brighton. There are still 3 spaces available and it’s not too late to sign up. Will you join us and take the next step in living a good story?