When I was young, I loved to read the book series called Choose Your Own Adventure®. There were books about the Wild West, outer space, dragons, or mysteries. The first few pages gave the premise for the book. For instance, in The Third Planet from Altair, Captain Bud Stanton, Professor Henry Pickens, and Dr. Nera Vivaldi head toward the third planet from Altair to investigate alien signals being detected from that area. After a few pages of exposition, the reader is then given a choice: If you want to land on the planet, go to page 4; If you want to turn back, go to page 10. After choosing, the story continues for a few pages until another decision page appears. Sometimes the decisions made will progress the story positively. But sometimes it would result in a less desirable outcome including death. The reason I bring this up, is that I caught myself in my own choose your own adventure recently – and I wasn’t making the best choices.
It wasn’t my actions that lead my adventure astray but my words. The simple question, “what’s new with you?” would be posed. If I want to say something positive about my business, go to page 4. If I want to bring up my father’s illness, go to page 6. Then the story would continue. “My goodness,” my friends would say, “I am so sorry to hear that.” If I want to say “that’s ok, he’s in good spirits,” go to page 8. If I want to say, “Us too, we’re really worried,” go to page 10. What I noticed was how my choice at every juncture, lead me closer and closer, and deeper and deeper into negativity until my focus was solely on the bad because the bad news was what I shared.
I also began to notice how others’ reactions tainted how my adventure continued. If they were supportive and positive, I could rebound into a seeing the current situation as just part of my life therefore choosing the more positive option. But if they, meaning well, wanted to focus on the negative what if’s, talk details about what could go wrong, and emphasize on how this must be hard for me, then I would delve deeper and deeper into my story of how bad things were. It is hard to stop that tailspin. Our culture thrives on negativity, disaster, and fear. It is much easier to fall into that mantra than one of optimism and hope.
Luckily I finally realized how my choices were leading me down a negative path and just like the Adventure books, I had a chance to start over. I went back to page one, back to square one, cleaning the slate of old choices and starting anew. I let go of the tangled, negative story I had created, and started down a new path with a new story of my choosing. Choosing the positive story built on the positive options which lead to a more positive and stress-free outcome.
So I challenge you today, write your own adventure. Look at every juncture of your life. What do you choose to say, do, or believe? What result occurs because of the choice you made? Are you creating an adventure that ends in riches and joy? Or are you leading yourself down the path to defeat and negativity? What choice will you make?