If you want to know how to change your life, first consider changing how you think. Because the answer to your question is already inside you. But Google it if you must. More than 5 billion results come up in a search on that phrase. You see, changing your life is an industry. Buyer beware. Many, many, books are sold under the rubric of changing your life. My own book, “How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life,” could be among those 5 billion answers to your question. So, continue reading here at your own risk.
In 2014, when I turned 60, I realized I needed to change my life. I had been farming by myself for six years and my brain was going numb with problem solving, my bank account was at low tide and my joints were begging for replacement. I was a widow trying to have the same life I had when I lived in a two-person, two-income household. Then I crashed and burned in stress, debt and icepacks. Changing my life could have taken me in many directions. I had options. I could have become Mother Teresa and dedicated myself to caring for others. But I chose the more narcissistic path of Dorothy and ran away from home to follow the Yellow Brick Road in search of Oz. In 2016, I sold everything, got in my car and drove away on a mission to find myself.
Like Dorothy’s dream, my road trip was a kind of limbo, a transitory space between departure from my old life and arrival in my new life, a way of sampling opportunities without making a commitment. As I drove my history scrolled through my psyche and I saw myself with new perspective, like watching a movie or reading a book about someone else. The literal distance gave me a chance to detach from my identity and witness myself. Of course, I could have witnessed myself sitting on the couch, but context was part of my problem. I was dulled by repeating my behavior patterns, exercising the same ideas over and over again, and reinforcing old habits instead of breaking them. On the road the change of scenery stimulated me to rethink myself. It was the change in how I think that changed my life.
Now I see how my life is a story I tell myself and my story is changing all the time. At one point my life was a saga about terminal illness, death, downsizing and the disintegration of my lifestyle. I told myself my life was ruined and that’s how I felt. Ruined. But as my life continues, I see how those same events made me more resilient, stronger and wiser, and prepared me for the life I have today, which I love. Today I tell myself I’ve recovered from tragedy to become a new person. And that’s how I feel. New. One life, many interpretations, many stories. You choose your story. You choose how to change your life by choosing how to think about yourself, the story you tell yourself about who you are, one word at a time, one sentence at a time. Your choice. Have a listen to yourself. What story do you hear?
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