404 How To Live A Better Story

How To Live A Better Story

I love telling stories. When I read books, I read them out loud just to practice. Storytelling is an art and with an unskilled storyteller, a great story can turn into a boring one.

Ironically, telling a good story isn’t the same as living a good story. Even great storytellers can live boring lives.

In the past I’ve had a difficult time coming up with stories about my own life. I have no problem taking someone else’s story and telling it well. But the story I lived didn’t always seem all that interesting.

There are a couple of reasons why I wasn’t living a better story.

Fear of Conflict Kills Your Story

I’ve thought about the handful of times when I actually had a story to tell. Every single story I can think of consisted of me being afraid of something, then eventually facing the conflict head on.

Every relationship problem I’ve ever encountered revolved around conflict. Fear caused me to run through every possible negative scenario in my mind. I figured conflict could only result in a negative outcome, worst of which is the termination of the relationship.

I actually found that the opposite is true. Every conflict I avoided led to problems and at times, the end of the relationship. But every time I was able to overcome my fear and face the conflict, I lived a better story.

Fear of Change Kills Your Story

Nobody likes change. If you say you like change, you’re lying. Or you’re running from something. Or you’re crazy. Take your pick.

We are creatures of habit and comfort. We desire safety. Change is an unknown variable that disrupts our equation of safety. But at some point in everyone’s story, change is required. And the longer we hold out on change, the longer we stay in the same chapter of our lives.

One way fear manifests in our lives is through control. When we can control our situation, we feel safe and protected. The problem is that we become independent and we can no longer trust anyone other than ourselves.

I’m reading Don Miller’s book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” and it’s rocking my world in how it relates to living a better story. He writes this passage about fear:

“Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated.”

When I read that, I shuddered. I realized that a fear of being humiliated may very well be at the core of my inability to live well.

Information Is Not Enough

Early in the book Don realizes that just because you want to live a better story, doesn’t mean that you will. You have to be intentional about facing conflict and embracing change.

This is the turning point in our life. It’s where so many well-intentioned people fall short of greatness. It’s where so many people that desire to serve God end up turning away.

There’s a big difference between a desire and a decision.

I don’t want to just tell great stories, I want to live one. And so I leave you with one last quote from the book:

“Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die, and it’s not natural to want to die.”

How do you live a better story?
How do you deal with conflict and change? 


Speaking of stories, I just became a Staff Writer over at Prodigal Magazine. We’re a community of people, all different ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and geographical locations who come together to share their stories on one common platform. Check it out!


  1. One of the many pitfalls that lead to a monotonous life and marriage is the failure to discover the story you’re living within. I’ve written on this idea before on by asking this question: “If your marriage were a movie, would you want to go see it?”
    Lu recently posted..Best Buy Credit Card

  2. That book is definitely one of my favorites of all-time. Subconsciously I’m sure I “knew” that I needed conflict, risk, change for a better story, but reading the words clearly organized on a page dramatically changed how I look at conflict, risk, and change. Those things can still be super scary, but I know they’re needed now. Without those things, life would be so incredibly stale. So thankful to have realized this while still fairly young!
    TMZ recently posted..The Weekend WOW – 4/28/12

  3. I read Donald’s book a couple of years ago and it’s what started me on the journey to an MBA and writing Some Wise Guy. I need to read it again. Excited for your staff writing on Prodigal Magazine.
    ThatGuyKC recently posted..The Essential Checklist for Take Your Kid to Work Day

  4. I’m trying to live a better story. The beginning of my story is saturated with fear, disappointment, mistakes, and failure. But the good news is…the story continues to be written. The author has the chance to write a better one…one of courage, doing the right things, living a life that matters and which makes a real difference. Change sucks. But change is necessary in order to grow, to become a better version of ourselves than what currently is.
    Thomas Mason recently posted..Choosing the Path to Forgiveness

  5. That last quote is really powerful!

    I think something that goes with this is not living in the past. We have to keep moving forward in order to really live and grow. We get stale if we stay in the past.
    TC Avey recently posted..What You Do Today Can Determine Your Tomorrow

    • Yeah, it’s way too easy to get stuck in the past. Or even complacent with your present. I think living a better story is about facing conflict and change in your present so you can see past it to a better future.

  6. I certainly struggle and continue to struggle with fear of conflict in my relationships, even in my marriage. What I’ve discovered is that embracing that conflict and walking through it has become a prime opportunity for God to manifest His work in my life. It’s definitely not easy. It requires me to do a lot of things that I don’t like doing-being vulnerable, being brutally honest, being open hearted to those who have hurt me, offering grace and mercy. Yet, what I’ve found is that the resolve is better than the living in fear of conflict and never dealing with it. The resolve is what allows me to fully walk into the destiny that He has planned for me. The resolve allows me to fully be Keri, and not feel bad about it. The resolve is what allows His work in me to be glorified.

    • You struggle with getting through conflict or facing it? I’ve always leaned toward avoiding conflict which is a problem in and of itself.

      I’m realizing how I’ve put up a wall to protect myself from being too honest. I don’t ever want to hurt people with how I feel. But honestly, it’s more counter-productive to not face my feeling, even if they aren’t pleasant.

      It’s a learning process for sure but I’m getting there day by day.

  7. Great word today. I really needed to hear this.
    I think fear plays a big road block for me. The unknown and all it holds can sometimes be daunting. I need to embrace change and do not let fear be a wall in me living a good story.
    Miller’s book is next on my list of books to tackle. I am reading Bob Goff’s “Love Does” right now and it is really moving. Highly suggest it.
    adam recently posted..Monday Questions #20: College

  8. First, Don’s book is brilliant.

    As for fear and change…they certainly had sunken hooks deep into me over the last decade or so. So many things in my life came crashing down and most of the time when I thought God was calling me to step out I was hit by the metaphorical Greyhound bus. The more you get flattened the less you feel like stepping up to have it done again. Eventually you’re like the beaten dog that just lays on the porch so it can’t get hit.
    Jason recently posted..God waits until the last minute because of us

    • It’s definitely my best read of the year so far. I feel all of this is so timely in my life right now.

      And yeah, I know what you mean about life coming crashing down. Don Miller said something really interesting in the book that is making me rethink our story. He says this:

      “The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. The point of a story is never about the ending…it’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.”

  9. Fear of risk has damaged my story in the past. Still working to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.
    Matt Cannon recently posted..The Cookie Monster Diet

    • This whole theme of risk and failure is coming back up for me. I started the year with it and now it seems to be circling back. I wonder what God has in store…

      Let’s encourage each other to live better stories and overcome that fear!

  10. Wow! That is awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    Brandon recently posted..A White Flag Surrender

  11. Love the whole part on fear of change man…really cool…

    I have to admit…i’ve been afraid of finishing our record…
    I hide it of course…i come up with excuses why I can’t go record on a certain day…

    We are almost done…but…i fear that when we finish this thing…God is going to take us to a place that is just frighting to me…it would be a big change…

    I know deep down…that when the record is finished…change will come…it’s inevitable.

    and that scares the crap out of me…and for my family…

    My wife is closing a chapter soon in her life of a stay at home mommy… my kids will both be in school this fall…and my wife has been asked to be a teacher at our churches Private school…which is an honor to her for them thinking of her first above anyone else…

    but, change is good…in the long run…and it does tell a better story…even the made up ones!
    arny recently posted..The Red Door (Part 2)

    • What do you think will be the biggest change when your record is finished? Do you think it is a legitimate fear or just one that is in your mind?

      • I think it’s legitimate because i will start to be more busy…(a good thing) with booking more places…being away from my family most weekends…and things like that…

        i know what God is capable of…Big Things…

        I guess i’m just scared of being away from my family…and some how putting them 2nd, or 3rd…
        arny recently posted..The Red Door (Part 2)

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