Play your cards right, and one day the story of your life will be made into a movie.
If that was true, how would you act right now? If everything you did was soon to be told in a story, if you were living the movie ahead of its release, what would change?
According to scientist David Robson, whose article about narrative identity I read this week, “People who generate tales of struggle and redemption from their own lives appear to have much better mental health.” You might have heard of the hero effect, where you intentionally bring the best version of you to every moment, but he said this is like the flawed hero effect.
We can view our past as existing for a reason, to teach us lessons and advance our journey. Viewing our future as an extension of this story “can help us achieve our aspirations for self-improvement.”
What’s your life narrative so far, and can you frame it to serve you going forward? Here are five ways to think about your life as a movie, for better mental health and a renewed sense of motivation.
1. Become the hero
In the movie of your life, you are the title character, not a victim. It’s all about you. You can be the hero version of you in every situation if you remember to be. The one that shows up, the one that has courage, the one that does the right thing. The packed auditorium doesn’t want to hear you complaining, that’s not why they’re here.
2. Accept challenges
As with every hero’s journey, challenges will be laid out for you and it’s up to you to overcome them. In a movie it’s dragons, snipers, or global catastrophes. In real life it’s slightly less dramatic, but the premise remains. Setbacks are there for a reason, so you can bounce back stronger. Everyone loves a story of someone who overcame all odds to succeed in a big way. How are you using your adversities?
3. Make every moment count
There are no boring moments in a good movie. Think of everything you do as a scene. When you’re working on something, go all in. When you’re chatting with friends, be fully present. Existing in the present moment is the only way to make the most of it. There will be no scenes where you’re multi-tasking, watching the television or otherwise wasting your life. If it doesn’t count towards the best version of you, should you be doing it at all?
4. Take life less seriously
Challenges are sent to test you and people are too. In the movie of your life there will be villains. They come in the form of bank managers, naysayers, and backstabbing friends. They exist to warn you of traps or just provide entertainment. When you spot one, remember that’s what they are. There’s no need to internalise their words or take them too seriously; label them accordingly and get on with your work.
5. Think bigger
Boring movies don’t make it very far, so think bigger. If your story is going to capture the imagination it needs to be interesting, most of all to you. Watching someone turn up to a workplace they hate, wearing clothes that don’t suit them, in a body they’re not confident in, before coming home to the partner who irritates them doesn’t make for a great movie. So why live it right now? Make some changes for a better reality that inspires you and everyone else.
Five simple mindset shifts to see your reality through a new lens: a movie-quality camera lens. How would you act differently as the hero in the movie of your life? What changes would you make, how would you show up every single day? This altered perspective might make all the difference.