We move through our lives, from birth towards death, learning and growing and gathering a great number of stories.
Our interests and passions and feelings and personal evolution are all wrapped up in this meaty, fruity middle part. This is the richness of life; our struggles and our joys, our pain and our ecstasy, our grace and our shame. This is where the big and real stuff swells and diminishes, begins, breathes and ends. This is where we move.
Sometimes we just want to enjoy hearing these stories. We have a plethora of opportunities to do so – from books to the screen to conversations and various forms of art.
Sometimes we want to get ourselves to move in a certain direction, to shift into a better state for ourselves, to grow, evolve and expand.
Sometimes we want to encourage others to move, whether our partners, family members, friends or community. We want to inspire these people to act, but we are not seeking to control them.
So how do we achieve being this catalyst to the movement of ourselves and others well?
Getting Myself to Move
Let us assume that we can influence the direction of our life movement; an assumption which I believe in almost all cases, to be true.
I want to make moving through this life a good journey. I want to affect the way I move along with grace and good sense, and a certain amount of ease.
As such, I live with intention much of the time. I build small, repeat and doable habits that serve me well. I frequently build these habits with the help of accountability to others, so that the shift from the initial hard work to an ingrained habit is facilitated.
These are some of the ways I support my own life enhancement:
- I believe in simplicity in everything, to make the journey smoother.
- I am intentional in the decisions I make, as I realise they affect the direction of my life.
- I try to notice the good small beautiful subtle stuff, to enhance the richness of the passing days.
- I look up and appreciate the beauty of nature (so here is a blog post with a little video I put together of our surrounds here).
- I use challenges, to change my habits to improve the pattern of the way my life plays out.
- I meditate regularly, which suits me, perhaps for you too.
- I journal every morning, which works for me, perhaps not for you.
- I exercise regularly, which is really good for me, perhaps for you too.
- I strive to keep learning and expanding and staying open to other opinions and fields of knowledge.
I wrote a post about the transformational magic of self-investment which you can read here. But I would like to add that too much personal improvement can lead to a general sense of dissatisfaction, so here, as in many things, I strive for moderation!
How do I achieve being this catalyst to my own movement?
So far experience has shown me that the optimal way I have got myself moving and changing habits – is through taking up challenges and holding myself accountable, to external accountability groups.
Because this has worked for me, I feel confident and comfortable in sharing my stories. Will this same approach work for you? That depends on who you are, what drives you, your reasons for wanting to make changes, your present circumstances, and more.
Getting Others to Move
Because I am a human, and humans like to help others, I do too.
I want to tell my husband that he needs to meditate (and sometimes I do!) ( and you can guess if he takes my advice!). Instead, I could share with him some of the ways meditation has changed my life. That way he won’t feel harassed, and he might like to try for himself to see if he experiences these things too. Also, he might not.
Being a mother, I do hand out instructions a lot, because I am teaching a couple of young people how to go about certain things. In various ways, I get my girls to do what I want, but when I take the time to tell stories, they listen better.
Adults are different. Although I want to share with my friends and my future community how I live, in the not so subtle hope that they will see the light, shout hurrah, and take up the reigns enthusiastically to live like me, I cannot, and should not instruct them. I can however share how my life is progressing since I started living with more intention. Then let them alone to choose if they would like to join me.
Why Want Others To Move At All?
I have improved the quality of my life, so I want to guide others to improve their quality of life. This is why I am inspired to get others to take action.
The value I bring, I believe, comes from the fact that I am a normal person learning to live an intentional life. I am intentionally making choices to support my creation of what I consider to be a good quality life. This is what I want to share.
This value that I want to share is not, please understand, because I live a perfect life, I do not. I am a regular gal who found that simplifying things has made for a better quality of life.
Perhaps the value I bring is because I am standard issue, fairly normal, and have made some long lasting and positive changes, simply.
I live with small goals and a big bucket list, and I have learned a few useful things along the way.
My days pass well, on the whole, and so I want to share my story with others because I am enthusiastic and genuinely like to see people thrilled.
How do we achieve being this catalyst to the movement of others?
What is the simple and proven way to do that?
By sharing our stories. Not by telling people how to live. Who wants that? (To be honest, some days that is exactly what I want. I want someone to tell me every step of the way what to do). Most adults do not.
I can only share what has motivated me, or improved my days, or bettered my sense of delight. I can share what has worked at work, and as a parent, and a wife, and an online business owner. I can offer my solutions as an option for others, but I should not dictate my way as the only workable solution for others.
I find this a suitably gentle, subtle and intriguing way to work.
Stories instead of Advice
I am the youngest child in my family and perhaps as such am not accustomed to giving advice, or at least to having my advice taken seriously. As such I have not made it a habit to hand it out; advice, that is.
I am more of a listener and a holder when people come to me to talk. This is because I find people fascinating. We ALL have a story or two to tell.
My work however demands that I step into the role of a leader and share my experience with others. For me, this was a challenge, and so I have spent some time wondering how best to do this. I have found, quite simply, that it really is our stories that move people to, well, move!
By sharing our stories we really can step into the role of leader or guide, to share with others a way of doing things that they might find useful.
Sharing our stories rather than our advice is a gentler way of leading. This is more aligned with me.
And always remember the proverb about giving people an opportunity but not forcing them to take it.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drinkproverb
Recently I listened to Joshua and Ryan from The Minimalists discussing our “escalating advice epidemic as our society swells with scores of well-meaning people advising other people on what they are supposed to do.”
I watched it because it made me uncomfortable.
It made me doubt the entirety of the business I am trying to build here. It made me question the identity I have been building for myself as someone who inspires others to improve the quality of their lives.
But then the Minimalists are also trying to inspire others to improve the quality of their lives, by living with less.
How do they do this?
By sharing what worked for them. They do not advise. They share their own stories and those of their audience.
I am reading and loving Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I recently came across a passage where she explains how being a writer necessitates putting one’s creativity out there for others to judge.
By sharing her experience of the creative process (and by sharing her understanding of the fact that once her story is out, she has to let it go, and accept that other peoples reactions have very little to do with her), she educated and inspired and moved me, to be courageous, and put my own stories out into the world.
By sharing her stories – she got me to take action to create. She did not however once instruct me to take action!
Since I began my digital marketing education (to which you can have access here too), I have been taught that our stories are what moves people to take action. Although I did believe the theory I was taught, I have now also come to experience the reality of this being true.
We love stories. Storytelling is an ancient part of our culture. It is the way information is passed down through the generations and the way we are entertained. My children can recite the stories they hear at school, in exceptional detail. Stories move us. They inform us and inspire us to move, to act, to live well, to expand!
So next time you hear a story that moves you and inspires you to act, think about what it was that was the real catalyst.
- Did you identify with a character?
- Did it trigger a desire of yours?
- Did it seem to offer a solution to one of your problems?
And then sort through your own stories, and consider sending one out into the world to act as inspiration for others.
- What do you think about this idea of stories engaging us and encouraging us to move?
- Let me know in the comments how you feel about our helpful advice culture.
- Tell me your story about how you made some life changes in your life.
I love stories too.
I love connecting with people over stories.
I would love to hear yours.
As always – thank you for reading.