Flexibility for Mastery of Better Endings

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Life Metaphors  are a variety of “core metaphors” that reflect “idealized cognitive models” (ICM’s), according to anthropological linguists George Lakoff and Paul Johnson in their groundbreaking book, Metaphors We Live By. Such core metaphors govern our conceptions about whole domains of experience by having multiple metaphoric entailments. My example yesterday of Life as a Carousel or Merry-Go-Round shows this well. Life has Its Ups and Downs; It goes Round and Round; we may find ourselves reaching for “the Brass Ring”. Yet, of course, all of this is imaginary, or…well, embedded in our cognitive mindset. Because of the all-encompassing nature of the conceptual model that a key metaphor creates, reality itself is mapped onto our ICM of It, and we become somewhat bound to our model, or, schematic cognitive mindset.

This week’s general topic is about transforming self-limiting beliefs and personal myths into Bettter Endings scenarios. Merry-Go-Round horses leaping from their platforms overnight changes the Life Metaphor of Life as a Carousel by adding a new dimension of FLEXIBILITY into the model. As another first principle for creating Better Endings,then, flexibility is on the top shelf of our toolbox!

Flexibility incorporates lots of Better Endings principles in itself, doesn’t it? Creativity, Acceptance, Adaptability, Mindfulness; all of these are activated in a genuinely flexible thought or action. Flexibility involves a willingness to bend and to adjust, so it is helpful and often necessary for transforming self-limiting attitudes, beliefs or behavior.

I am reminded of two poetic images, both penned by Robert Frost.

The first, on “Acceptance“:

Ah, when to the heart of man,

Was it ever less than a treason

To go with the drift of things,

To bend with a grace to reason

and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?

 

             The second, from Frost’s “Birches”:

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

Mandi’s Guest (Re-)Blog on Thursday shares her “life secret” of Letting Go. This is part and parcel of flexibility, to RELEASE. Robert Frost’s image of birch boughs laden with ice and snow in winter and then winging back to the sky and freedom–though forever arched by the experience–evokes the suppleness and fresh vitality needed for, or perhaps resulting from, a shift of attitude: from holding on, to letting go and ALLOWING a new way come into Being.

Sometimes I think this is much of what the effects of physical aging are about: what we hold onto and then, eventually, what we are able to release. My mother who is 86 with Parkinson’s has had to release so much already (her mobility, most household possessions, solid food) and, over time, she will release the rest of her burdens from this life–and her loves–so she can move on to the next cycle of death and rebirth; however your belief system frames that. (By the way, I highly recommend reading Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven if you are struggling with a loved one’s or your own physical mortality.)

A spiritual author I regard highly, Harold Klemp, in How to Survive Spiritually in Our Timessays that one’s “degree of acceptance” determines one’s level or state of consciousness. What are you willing to Accept means, how flexible are you; how far are you willing to bend and what can you let go of to allow a Better Ending? I agree with Mandi that  this is what it takes to transform our lives or habits, from rigid to supple, from stubborn to wiser; bringing well-being and a fresh, vital, childlike perspective into our daily actions and choices. Flexibility allows us to transform self-limiting beliefs or fixed models so we can follow through on our most conscious, mindful decisions.

Flexibility is the essence of our willingness to grow, to learn, to unfold in greater freedom rather than being pinned down by the accretion of rigid thoughts or withered attitudes. And so, flexibility empowers us to transform self-limiting mindsets into life affirming gestures of allowing ourselves and others to grow, to explore, and to achieve the life of our and their dreams.

What is it that you would love to be doing, if you could release self-limiting concepts? Allow yourself to be all that you care to be, to do all that you mindfully dare to do, to become all that you ARE!

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Please feel free to share your insights with others in the COMMENTS box below. FOLLOW to receive Better Endings daily to your email address. And if you enjoy this material, please LIKE  and SHARE with your friends!

Fictional Better Endings? (and, Life Mapping Begins Today!)

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Create your own list of works of fiction for which you would like to imagine a Better Ending. Any genre of fiction will suffice.  After making your list, choose one and flex your creativity! Write a Better Ending scenario. Again, Better Endings are not necessarily happier ones, just tweaked in a way that is satisfying to you.

My own list is only suggestive, as I know many of you are better versed than I am in a wide range of genres. But here are a few well known works of fiction the endings (or body) of which would be rather interesting to ‘twist’:

  • Moby Dick
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Jane Eyre
  • Lost Horizon (Part II, the sequel)
  • Heidi
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Oliver Twist
  • Cinderella
  • The Time Machine (the sequel)
  • Animal Farm
  • Lord of the Flies

You can add your own list by Commenting below. Please submit your stories, of any length or format, by this Saturday evening, and the sooner the better so I can comment on them here.

Thanks to those of you who are Following this blog daily; I invite all of you visiting the site to Follow to receive your daily Better Endings.

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I am starting a new feature for this blog, starting today! Check out the text box to the right on the Home page. From now on I will post a weekly LIFE MAPPING activity. On Friday posts I will share more about the weekly Life Mapping prompt.  Over the past twelve years I have developed a complete personal growth & development approach which I call the Life Maps Process. I aim to publish a book for the general public next year, called Life Paths. The book will be accompanied by the Life Maps Process Handbook, a self-help toolkit that anyone can use to engage in a complete life mapping process on their own. I will offer many of these handbook techniques in our weekly Better Endings Life Mapping activity.  The “through line” to my book on Life Paths is, “Live your Dream, Now!” So you see, that is the connection with Better Endings. I have coached and taught classes to over 400 people in Life Mapping techniques, and I find that when anyone takes the time to review and reflect on their Life Chapters and Life Story to Now, they find patterns and challenges as well as Strengths they can develop that can empower them to forge a clearer, truer path to realizing their Life Dream.

Weekly Topic: Fictional Better Endings

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This week, our topic is “fictional better endings”. This does not necessarily mean happy endings, of course. What, to you, might constitute a ‘better’ ending in fiction, or in a particular fictional story?

I find it harder to tamper with fiction than with films; somehow the endings of at least well written fiction feel right to the characters and plot development, as Rebekah pointed out in last week’s Guest Blog. I deeply value transformational story structure, in which the key protagonists–and usually to some extent the antagonists as well–undergo dramatic, if subtle, shifts in consciousness from facing and surviving (or, not) enormous internal and external challenges.

Writing daily blog posts on Better Endings has helped me to recognize synchronicity and serendipity around our weekly themes. Two days ago I happened upon Stranger than Fiction on TV. Could any story line be more appropriate to our topic this week of fictional better endings? Will Ferrell plays an IRS tax man, Harold Crick, a living fictional protagonist who becomes aware he is a character in the unfinished novel of Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson), an author who “only writes tragedies”. Harold seeks out Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) to help him figure out what sort of novel he is in. There is beautiful, parable-esque story telling here. Our character must examine his life and improve his relationships–e.g. with the enigmatically charming Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a feisty baker whom Harold is auditing–to determine whether his own, very routinized life is worth saving. The ending twist–I won’t spoil it for you; this is a must see film!–offers a poetic statement about a transformational story structure that ironically bends reality back upon fiction, altering the author of the story herself!

Is there a fictional story ending whose ending you love? What makes it such a fitting conclusion? Alternately, is there a work of fiction (of any genre) which you would love to re-vision with a meaningful twist of fate or consequence? This week I give you carte blanche to play with fiction. No ending is indelibly chiseled in stone.

Please send your Comments about Fictional Better Endings and you can submit your stories for consideration as Story of the WeekPlease Follow to receive our Better Endings posts daily by email, and invite your Friends to join in the conversation! This is a site where writers can practice weekly prompts, and where everyone and anyone can flex your creativity. While on the surface we are applying Better Endings to fiction or to the weekly topic generally, underneath this is a self-help, personal growth and development practice which will deepen over time as we progress. I believe that as we practice applying this principle of Better Endings, our own character arcs may also come to manifest a transformational story. 

Better Endings to you! – Linda