Have you ever looked at someone and wondered about their life experiences and how those experiences shaped them? I do this all the time. What we see externally does not fully represent the depth of who we are.


Over the years, this curiosity has led me to understand that no one’s life is easy. We are all presented with ongoing challenges and misfortunes that shape who we are and offer opportunities for growth.


The opportunity for growth is something I prefer to focus on whenever one of life’s hard knocks pierces my world. After the requisite twenty-four hours of feeling sorry for myself becomes tiresome, I get a grip on myself and begin to get curious as to why this is happening; at this point I ask, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”


When I get curious about what I am supposed to learn in the midst of chaos; I find that the journey not only becomes a bit easier, it also becomes more meaningful and engaging. I’ve discovered that it takes me out of the position of being a victim and squarely into the position of being a co-creator of my experiences. Life itself may thrust upon me circumstances that are out of my control, such as a tornado sweeping through; but how I respond to those circumstances is entirely my choice.


Another way of thinking of it is to see myself as the protagonist in the story of my own life. This shift is empowering because it helps me take charge of my life and how I wish to experience it.


Recently, I watched a documentary on Mark Twain and discovered that while his life was filled with much joy, it was also filled with many tragic events that could have easily shattered his soul. What stood out for me is that throughout his trials and tribulations he never lost his sense of humor; in fact, he chose to develop his ingenious wit and innate talent for storytelling and share it with others through his writing and public speaking. His insatiable curiosity about life and its meaning fueled his creative abilities and ultimately produced his incomparable body of work.


Mark Twain believed that the ideal book would have no order in it, leaving the reader to discover his/her own. He recognized that life presents us with hardships that create the chapters of our journey, but how we embrace and interpret those occurrences shapes who we are.


This sentiment is echoed in a quote from his autobiography:


“We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.”

~ Mark Twain


Get curious about all occurrences in your life—-what they mean for you and how you wish to have your story unfold.