Tonight’s fantastic blog post is the first of a regular guest blog written by my good friend and awesome colleague in The Scottish Centre of NLP, Steve Burns. Look out for more coming soon…
I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die…
This is in fact the start of the ‘end monologue’ from the awesome and inspiring film ‘American Beauty’ directed by Sam Mendes. I’ve discussed this film and it’s meanings with lots of people and it seems to create polarized responses. People either find it hugely inspiring or disturbingly uncomfortable.
In case you haven’t seen it, it’s a story about a man in his forties going through a mid life crisis. He decides to quit his job, leave his stale, unfulfilling marriage and starts to appreciate each and every moment of life in a similar way he did when he was young.
I found it utterly inspiring but it does raise big questions for a lot of people who have found themselves deeply entrenched in the proverbial ‘rat race’.
Are you spending enough time living the life you want? One that resonates deeply within you… Or are you living the one you feel you are ‘expected to’?
Just how is your life story working out for you? How is it unravelling? Is it all you thought it would be? Or does it feel like someone else is writing the plot line? These are tough questions that raise a lot of shit for people but they are some of the most important questions you can ask yourself.
The Psychologist Schopenhauer said that when you reach a certain point in your life you can look back and it’s almost as if your life has a plot to it. That it’s been written by a skilled novelist. It has ups, downs, lulls and points of high drama. It might not seem like it when it’s happening but, in retrospect, it’s almost like it has a story thread that evolves through time.
The question is. What direction is your story heading? Will it have more moments of drama, passion, transformation possibly even redemption? Will it have a happy ending? Or will it just peter out like a novelist who runs out of ideas at the end of a book?
The wonderful thing is…it’s us that largely get to choose.
I know it doesn’t seem like it at times and you obviously can’t go through life without commitments but how much time do you actually spend plotting your own life’s story? Evaluating whether it’s going in the right direction? When did you last explore your passions, your dreams, the things that deeply resonate and stir something powerful within? If you already do, do you do it often enough?
So often we forget that we are the author of our own lives. We become blissfully unaware that we are the writers of our own story. It’s a bit like the Renaissance period from the 14th to 17th centuries in Europe. The people involved had no idea they were in the Renaissance period! It wasn’t until years after that we looked back and decided it was a wonderful period in time because of its rich opportunities, beautiful music and innovative architecture.
We can become so ‘involved’ in our own lives we forget that we are the ones who create our own novel. The famous John Lennon quote comes to mind that ‘Life is something that happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’. Personally, I take this more as a warning than a piece of advice.
So if you haven’t already asked those questions delve deep and find the courage to do so now. It doesn’t matter what age you are (it’s never too late) and it doesn’t mean you have to burn all your bridges and elope to Australia! It does mean you have to be honest with yourself and have the courage and strength to explore. Maybe you want a complete change in direction, a re-invention…Or perhaps it’s something smaller and more subtle like spending more time on your passions and having a greater sense of gratitude for the things you already have.
I know sometimes we don’t want to investigate the dark cave because at first it can look kind of sinister but it’s always worth the risk when you find the sparkling, hidden treasure.
So, when your life flashes in front of you the moment before you die, which movie will you see?
Will it be a beautiful piece of self written genius or some dodgy B-movie with actors who clearly don’t want to be there?
The choice is yours.
NLP Expert and Trainer
The Scottish Centre of NLP