Although you may not claim full authorship credit for your life, you can freely edit any time. Here's what might help from Donald Miller's book, A million miles in a thousand years: What I learned while editing my life. And if you'd like more, this is a non-affiliate link to his book list.
[ music ] . Hi, this is Rob Sepich, and welcome to Relaxing with Rob. Last time, we talked about the joys available to us during an average day, and even throughout an average life. But as I hope you heard, I was talking about the cumulative effects of doing the things you love and provide meaning throughout these average days. Today I'd like to talk about your ability to make "edits" to your life. I'm not saying "authoring" your life as other people have, because I think that implies a level of privilege and control that not many people have. There are just so many circumstances that are beyond our control. But given the life you have right now, whether you're 18 or 88, what can you do to improve upon it? You might think of this as "a few small repairs," in the words of Shawn Colvin, or something huge like adopting the identity of a whole new character with a better story, as I learned from the author Donald Miller. Let me tell you just a little bit about him. Miller wrote a memoir that was quite successful, and then his career seemed to stall. He couldn't get out of bed on many days. And he says that he did everything he could just to avoid responsibility--living vicariously through others. For example, he'd watched the Tour de France each year on TV, but he would not get on a bike himself. And then a couple producers asked if they could make a movie based on his memoir. And he agreed, and he started to work on a screenplay with them. And throughout this process, he was asked essentially to "edit his life." And it's a concept he had never considered before. You know, movies based on books never contain everything. Some details are dropped and sometimes a few are added, just for a little context. When I saw the first "Harry Potter" movie after reading the book, I was so disappointed that my favorite line was omitted. This is toward the end when Dumbledore reassures Harry with the line, [quote] "To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." Anyway, Donald Miller got some help during this process by attending a writer's workshop taught by the renowned Robert McKee. And it was there that Miller learned the essence of a story: [quote] "A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." [end quote] Let me repeat that because I think it's pretty important. "A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." If you think about it, stories about people who don't really want anything or don't have to struggle much to achieve something are not typically made into movies. Or if they are, they're pretty easy to forget. If you agree, then this understanding might help reframe some of your problems as necessary to your character. We tend to forget easy successes in life, but we remember our big struggles and what we learned from them. Miller started making changes in his real life during the writing process, kind of like life imitating art. For example, he went from what he felt was wasting his money to founding a nonprofit. And he went from romantic fantasies to taking some risks and developing actual relationships. And he got on his bike and he rode with a group across the U.S. from coast to coast! He developed a "new story" for his life in which he became a "better character." In episode 25, "Be Present & Act As If," I talked about certain ways you could act as if you're the person you'd like to be in some situations, like talking to professors or taking tests or public speaking. And to avoid repetition, if you're interested in this idea of editing your life, I encourage you to re-listen to that episode for specifics. Right now, I'd just like to read one paragraph from Miller's book about how we often take life for granted. And by the way, it's called "A million miles in a thousand years: What I learned while editing my life." And for your convenience, I'll place a link to his website and book in the show notes. And this is a non-affiliate link, so if you purchase something, I don't receive anything. This passage comes from page 59: "I've wondered, though, if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgment. We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants." Personally, I just love his phrase, "grateful participants." Do you feel like you're a grateful participant in life? There might be some subtle ways that you feel, if not like a victim, at least like you don't have much power or that you're just going through the motions, getting through the day. Maybe you're in college and you're in a major that your parents steered you toward because it was theirs. Or maybe it's towards a field that offers more financial security than they experienced. But what if you don't like it? You kind of know it's a mismatch. But with each passing semester, maybe you feel a little more obliged to stick with it. If so, I've known many students just like you. Hey, your parents have good intentions. They want what they think is best. However, consider Natasha Bedingfield's song, "Unwritten." It was the most played song on U. S. radio in 2006, so it must have hit a responsive chord. She sings, "No one else, no one else / Can speak the words on your lips." And she goes on to say, "Live your life with arms wide open / Today is where your book begins." Even if they're well-intended, neither your parents nor anyone else can speak the words on your lips. They don't have final editing rights to your life. That's on you. And the good news is that if you're not crazy about the story you find yourself in, at any age, you can revise it. Well, happy editing. Thank you for listening, and we'll talk again soon. [ music ] .