Sometimes all it takes to motivate us is a good story.
Good storytelling moves us–it inspires us and it enlightens us. Good storytelling motivates us. It asks us to stand up for our current beliefs or question them. Good storytelling brings people together. It make us laugh. It makes us cry. And it challenges our every day decisions. A good story can warm our hearts. It can make us angry or it can sober us up. A good story doesn’t need a happy ending. A good story invites us to take an adventure or to go on a journey. Good stories teleport us to different times and different spaces. They are one true way to escape our own realities and step into someone else’s –or a different world.
Good stories are what move us-shake us-make our hairs stand up on our skin-and drive us.
Good stories are what we come back to when we’re searching for that one quote or one paragraph or one chapter that somehow managed to encapsulate everything we couldn’t put into words ourselves.
More than anything good stories stay with us.
These are the books filled with stories or moments that have stuck with me–that have and continue to move me–some since childhood–some since only more recently. What’s on your bookshelf? What motivates you? What books and stories do you always go back to?
1. Born Standing Up, Steve Martin
“I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a by-product. The course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incremental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps. I was not naturally talented—I didn’t sing, dance, or act—though working around that minor detail made me inventive.
I was not self-destructive, though I almost destroyed myself. In the end, I turned away from stand-up with a tired swivel of my head and never looked back, until now. A few years ago, I began researching and recalling the details of this crucial part of my professional life—which inevitably touches upon my personal life—and was reminded why I did stand-up and why I walked away.”
“Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it. // There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”
5. On Writing, Stephen King “Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life. // Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t just make speeches–Just believing is usually enough.”
6. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin “It’s about living in the moment and appreciating the smallest things. Surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you and letting go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind. It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world.”
“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”
9. The Art of Travel, Alain De Botton
Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do.At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves – that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestice setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.
If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”