The narratives we construct and live our lives by, fascinates me. Even more fascinating to me is how quickly we can change the quality of our experience of life by changing the narrative.
“Each of us … constructs and lives a ‘narrative’ and is defined by this narrative… I suspect that a feeling for stories, for narrative, is a universal human disposition, going with our powers of language, consciousness of self, and autobiographical memory.”
I revisit my narrative often. Some parts of it I find easy to change. Other, more deep seated narratives, I continue to cling to for one reason or another, probably because I don’t know what my life would mean without that narrative.
Like today, I was telling my friend Sarah
how my identity is tied up in my physicality. I wouldn’t know who to be if I were not able to physically do the things I do like weightlifting and mountain climbing etc. Strength is a value I hold dear. And there’s a whole narrative that goes with that. Like I get angry at myself for not being able to use my body exactly as I did when I was 22. Even though I know I must account for the passage of time. I’m no spring chicken anymore, as they say. But in my mind I am. If I don’t change the narrative soon, there will be consequences I’m sure.
The bad news
is that there’s an epidemic of rotten storytelling going on in our culture right now. The good news is that we have the ability to fix that. And the best news is that it’s not as hard as you might believe. As Dr. Carol Dweck wrote, “Small shifts in mindset can trigger a cascade of changes so profound that they test the limits of what seems possible.”
There are other narratives I need to work. I’ll share those another time.
People who had a positive view of aging in midlife lived an average of 7.6 years longer than those who had a negative view. In other words, if you say: “I think getting older is going to rock,” you’re likely to live 7.6 years longer than your friend who says: “I think getting older is going to suck.”
I don’t think I have a negative view of getting old. I know it’s coming, but I prefer to live in a semi-state of denial. I tell myself that I won’t let old age slow my down - that i’m going to pump iron and climb mountains until I die! Father Time might have a different version of that story.
I thought I was killing time, all the while time was killing me.