What Stories Are You Telling?

Everybody’s got stories they remember, stories they tell. And the stories themselves say a lot about the themes of our lives.

I remember years ago reading an article about bagel injuries in New York, and I’ve mentioned it a time or two or twenty in conversations with friends. I suppose it was that bagels in bakeries don’t come pre-sliced as they do when packaged for the grocery store. So when people take them home to slice, a lot of injuries occur. There’s just no good way to slice a bagel on your own.

What I especially remember from the article is the reporter’s experience during an interview. He had called to ask an ER doctor about the incidence of “bagel injuries,” except the ER doctor thought he said “fatal injuries.” The doctor started reciting statistics about fatalities that came through his emergency department, until the reporter interrupted to say, “No, not fatal injuries, bagel injuries.”

Without missing a beat, the doctor replied, “Bagel injuries? Oh, we get those all the time.”

I enjoyed reading the article that day. But why would I remember this simple story for so many years?

Well, I liked that the article focused on a narrow topic. Bagel injuries. And without adding in the full scope of toast mishaps, English muffin problems, donut scenarios and all other dangers of breakfast foods. Oftentimes, the narrower the story, the more interesting it becomes. When you put a tiny detail under the microscope, a memorable idea can be born.

Further, I liked how the doctor took both questions seriously. He didn’t question the questions. He was willing to answer either of them with equal earnestness.

The other thing I liked was the word play. I liked how there was a twist, sort of a punch line. Which speaks to something that’s important to me. I am fascinated by the use of words, especially when they take an unexpected turn.

These things – focusing in on a narrow topic and making it bigger, a play on words that gives it a twist, and the willingness to ask and to answer a question someone might consider silly. You can find so much of how I respond to life in those three takeaways. Is there any wonder that I have remembered that article for 20 years?

So… what stories do you remember, and what is it about these stories that keeps them accessible in the files within your brain? The themes of our stories tell us a lot about ourselves if we pay attention. But not only that, if we don’t like what we’re hearing, we can change the story we’re telling.

I know this is true because of personal experience. I’ve told plenty of negative stories in my time, but as I started looking at things a little deeper and a little higher, I began to make a shift. I stopped replaying the reels of the awful (as often) and began taking note of the things that are pretty amazing. It made such a difference I didn’t want to keep this idea to myself.

That’s why I’d like for you to join me in The Magnificent Journey. This free weekly e-newsletter is a place where small moments become big ideas, where words twist into new meanings, and where simple questions lead to encouraging answers. And it’s all to help you gain perspective, shift your thinking and reshape the stories you’re telling about your life.

Subscribe to The Magnificent Journey by entering your email address in the form on this page, then watch your inbox for your weekly issue. I look forward to seeing you there!

— Minnie Lamberth

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