From Chapter Four of the book
How to Achieve Peace of Mind

How to Achieve Peace of Mind

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Life as a Movie

By Jerry Dorsman

“Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is.”
-John Cage

The average American watches two or more movies each week in theaters, on video, or on TV. How many movies do you watch? More importantly, when you watch, how involved do you get?

If you’re like most people, movies stir your emotions. When the scene is sad, you feel sad; when violent, you feel a character’s pain or fear; when sensual, you become aroused; when funny, you laugh. Now think about this. These are just images on a screen. Even worse, the images are feigned. People have acted to create them, or they’ve been doctored through cinematography. Yet the images evoke real emotion in you.

Now consider your everyday reality. These images and events truly happen. Do you respond as easily with the appropriate emotion, as you do with a movie? Many of us don’t. Why? Because we feel more inhibited. In real life, we’re afraid to show too much of ourselves, afraid to show our true emotions.

So, what happens? We miss out. We miss living life to its fullest. We miss meaningful connections with other people. And because our emotions don’t match reality, we feel a little less peaceful inside.

What can you do to change? Here’s one way: View your own life as a movie. You’re probably familiar with the lines from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players.” You’re a player on a stage, so get out there and act. Realize that you have a part in life and play it to the hilt. Put every ounce of yourself into it. And enjoy.

Before stepping on the stage of your own life however, consider this thought from Thornton Wilder: “On the stage it is always now; the personages are standing on that razor-edge, between the past and future, which is the essential character of conscious being.” Now the curtain goes up…

Try this:

For seven days, take this life as a drama, perhaps even a comic drama. Think of your whole life as a myth, a story, a play. Even the first time you consider it in that way, doesn’t it feel as though a weight has lifted?

It’s true. A weight has lifted. Now you don’t have to take life so seriously. Unfortunately, we all tend to take life too seriously, and unhappiness results. Unhappiness comes from being too serious.

So make your life into a game, just a game. Play your part, play it well, but remember you are merely playing a role. In fact you may have many roles to play: wife, husband, lover, mother, father, friend, employee, employer, and so on. For one week, play each part to the fullest, and remember you’re free to be the best father you can be, the best wife, the best lover, or the best friend. After all, it’s not the real thing. It’s a game. You don’t have to take it seriously.

Remember too that the game has rules. There are certain things you can and can’t do in any given role, and your conscience knows what these are. So play your part to the fullest but play by the rules. The basic rule is: Don’t hurt anybody, physically or emotionally. Beyond that, there are specific rules to help you excel in each role and give it your best. For instance, if you’re a sales person, you need to put on a smile, present your product in its best light, offer the facts, be persuasive, and ask for an order. If you get an order, make the sale; if not, move on. In either case, close with a cheerful thank-you, which in effect says thank you for allowing me to play my role.

Celebrate each of your roles. Be the best you can be and play by the rules, but within the rules, celebrate your part.

If you live like this for seven days, a great weight will lift from you. You will feel peaceful and free. Rather than feeling chained to your roles, you will be happy with them. What’s more, this feeling of freedom will stay with you for the rest of your life.