Opera Riot is doing 34 things including…

Tell the events of my life-story, linked by themes of redemption

15 cheers

 

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Opera Riot has written 2 entries about this goal

How I do love him, oh so very much.

These days, a lot of our most intimate conversations happen in the car. After I got back in the car after depositing my check, I mentioned that one of the new tellers at my credit union had graduated from the film and theater program that I dropped out of the first time I went to college. She’d put a lot into moving through the theater program, and I know she didn’t want to wind up as a teller at a credit union. I felt a pang of empathy for her.

I’ve been a little sad lately about the state of things—still staying with my folks, working so much and still not getting ahead with money, plugging away at school, and so little time and energy at the end of the day for creating something. We’re happy enough—We’re making progress! The end is in sight! We have each other!—but this stuff can be such a drag! Really!

On top of just feeling sad that I don’t have a lot of control over my day-to-day life lately, what’s been nagging at me lately have been unfavorable comparisons I make between myself and former-peers: for example, friends from high school who have stable, grown-up jobs—careers!!—and here I am trying to wrap up my undergrad. Steve knows that this has been an undercurrent in my thinking lately; it comes up whenever I have to see extended family or whenever I run into someone I used to know.

I mention the young woman at the credit union, and don’t have to explain much for him to know what I’m thinking.

He says, “Don’t you feel like you’re better off being in school now than when you were younger? You have a better idea of what you want to do, and a more honest and intentional reason for being there. I mean, when I think about it without any preconceived ideas, the route I’ve gone makes a lot of sense. It’s only when I compare it to what’s considered the standard that it seems odd at all.”

It was what I needed to hear.



How you tell your story matters

From a New York Times article I read a while back:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/22/health/psychology/22narr.html?pagewanted=all

In analyzing the texts, the researchers found strong correlations between the content of people’s current lives and the stories they tell. Those with mood problems have many good memories, but these scenes are usually tainted by some dark detail. The pride of college graduation is spoiled when a friend makes a cutting remark. The wedding party was wonderful until the best man collapsed from drink. A note of disappointment seems to close each narrative phrase.

By contrast, so-called generative adults — those who score highly on tests measuring civic-mindedness, and who are likely to be energetic and involved — tend to see many of the events in their life in the reverse order, as linked by themes of redemption. They flunked sixth grade but met a wonderful counselor and made honor roll in seventh. They were laid low by divorce, only to meet a wonderful new partner. Often, too, they say they felt singled out from very early in life — protected, even as others nearby suffered.

In broad outline, the researchers report, such tales express distinctly American cultural narratives, of emancipation or atonement, of Horatio Alger advancement, of epiphany and second chances. Depending on the person, the story itself might be nuanced or simplistic, powerfully dramatic or cloyingly pious. But the point is that the narrative themes are, as much as any other trait, driving factors in people’s behavior, the researchers say.

“We find that when it comes to the big choices people make — should I marry this person? should I take this job? should I move across the country? — they draw on these stories implicitly, whether they know they are working from them or not,” Dr. McAdams said.

Any life story is by definition a retrospective reconstruction, at least in part an outgrowth of native temperament. Yet the research so far suggests that people’s life stories are neither rigid nor wildly variable, but rather change gradually over time, in close tandem with meaningful life events.

TL;DR

My theory is that, since a person’s happiness can be correlated with how they frame their personal narrative, deliberately framing stories (ESPECIALLY of personal disappointment or failure) in redemptive terms can offer a boost to well-being. It’s similar to an exercise for addressing negative self-talk: the thought is consciously examined, restructured into a constructive statement, and is brought to mind as a replacement when the negative self-talk comes up.

I hope this will allow me to healthily address and come to terms with difficult experiences, and find growth and transformation in the process.



Opera Riot has gotten 15 cheers on this goal.

 

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