How to Make Life More Exciting With Simple Storytelling

Once upon a time there was… you. What happens next? Here are some storytelling tips to make your life more exciting.

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Key Points

  • Looking at your life from a storytelling perspective helps you identify ways to make it more exciting.
  • Develop your character, proactively set yourself on missions, add stakes and plot twists, and seek others’ input.
  • The ultimate decision-making guide is, “What would make for a better life story?”

“Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often.”

Susan Statham

Of all the research I’ve done over the years into how to live a more exciting life on your own terms, the concept of “living a great story” has stuck with me the most.

The more I feel I am in control of my narrative, making progress in my adventure, and clear on the challenges ahead of me, the better my well-being.1This paper indicates this is likely true for you, too: Seeing your life story as a Hero’s Journey increases meaning in life.

The problem? Stories are easier told than lived. And sometimes you get writer’s block.

So when feeling flat, unmotivated, and unsure of my next chapter, I find it helps to return to the fundamental storytelling techniques and use them to edit the story I’m telling myself, better develop my character, and direct my plot in a more exciting direction.

Here’s how.

Sleeping on the floor
The early days of my floor-sleeping foray.

Generate Extra Energy

Good luck living a good story if you’re hungover, in a food coma, and groggy.

So, as dull as it sounds, the foundational first step to making life more exciting is to dial in the boring basic keystone habits: diet, rest, health, and social life.

That doesn’t mean you have to live off boiled Brussels sprouts, burpees, and early bedtimes, though. Ask yourself,

How can I make energy-generating habits more exciting in their own right?

Because once you find ways to enjoy the “boring” practices that generate energy, you become unstoppable.

Here are some energizing examples that I’ve had fun with:

Complete comfort zone diagram
As per comfort zone physics, steadily push the edge of your comfort zone away from your danger zone and toward your potential.

Enhance Your Powers

All else equal, James Bond is capable of way more epic life adventures than James the bail bondsman who plays N64 GoldenEye with all his free time.

Sure, each of us is limited by our genetics and circumstance. But that doesn’t me we can’t work toward boosting our potential for adventure. Extreme life makeovers are possible for anyone who steadily ´expands the edges of their comfort zone like an athlete training for the game of life. Doing so makes for an exciting story in its own right.

So ask yourself:

How can you gradually and sustainably strengthen your abilities?

To avoid imbalance, make a plan that targets all areas of your life, including relationships, physical and mental health, and career.

Chris taking notes
Even taking notes on “boring” non-fiction is exciting for me because it helps me with my battle.

Pick On Something Not Your Own Size

For extra motivation and to add essential conflict to your story, find something about the world that pisses you off.

Pick an adversary much bigger than you so you:

  • Can make progress but never vanquish it.
  • Can attack from an unending number of angles.
  • Benefit not just yourself.

For instance, my two-headed Hydra is complacency and delusion. Even though my attacks have been flimsy so far, I’m having a great time researching for, experimenting with, and writing about it.

Author and serial entrepreneur Justin Mares, a much more effective fighter than me, agrees with this “find your problem, not your passion” mentality. His nemesis? The messed-up food system.

How about you?

What’s a problem with the world you’re willing to fight?

How to make big life decisions cover image.
Use your past to increase your odds of hitting more ladders and fewer snakes.

Do More of What’s Worked in the Past

What have been your exciting moments from the past, and how can you do more along those lines?

No matter how narcolepsy-inducingly uneventful your life story has been to date, it has undoubtedly had some episodes of excitement.

I find it helps to keep a log of what I do and regularly look back to figure out what has worked and what hasn’t, and plan accordingly. Annual reviews also provide encouraging perspective because, as Donald Miller writes in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, you don’t always know a story is happening when you’re in it.

Another approach is to look at life like a multi-dimensional game of snakes and ladders and ask yourself:

What have been the big moves that jumped you forward the most in your game of life?

Deconstruct those “ladders,” then use that evidence to roll the dice on your next potentially game-changing moves.

Stop Looking at Your Phone cover image

Delete the Unexciting Stuff

“Negative knowledge (what not to do) is much more potent than positive knowledge (what to do).”

Rolf Dobelli

If you’re horrible doing anything exciting, use that talent to your advantage by asking yourself:

How can you make life less exciting?

Then do the opposite.

Come to think of it, the challenge of intentionally making your life as unexciting as possible could be pretty exciting! But that’s because doing so removes a major excitement-sucker: lack of direction.

While looking for junk to scrap from your story, don’t forget to look in your bellybutton:

Have you got any self-limiting beliefs that are acting like handbrakes?

For instance, I’ve made easier progress with less willpower ever since letting go of being “unsocial” and “unambitious” and focusing on being more “helpful” and “proactive” instead.

taco dinner party
Even dinner parties can be exciting with proactivity and intention.

Stick Your Neck Out

It has got to be way more exciting being the bird at the front of the flying V than at the back. A better view, too. Sure, it’s harder work, but if you want easy excitement, watch all the Fast & Furious movies on repeat for a week straight and tell me how you feel.

The extra effort of taking the lead will make you stronger, so it gets easier with time. Less confident people will drift off of you, which is gratifying and energizing in its own right. And you’ll attract the attention of other exciting leaders, who tend to flock together.

Yeah, you’ll sometimes veer in the wrong direction or crash. So what? Mistakes are exciting, too. So ask yourself:

What endeavor can you proactively take the lead on?

Some ideas:

  • Plan a social event. A “Priya Parker” dinner party, for example. The benefits of having control of who comes and what happens, and getting the credit, easily offset the cost of organizing.
  • Take on a challenging project at work. You might fail at it, as I have with my YouTube and Twitter attempts, but at least you’ll be failing in your desired direction.
  • Set a public goal. This raises the stakes (see the next point) and encourages others to support you (more on this below).

Raise the Stakes

Betting your life savings on the big game or climbing a cliff without a harness will make life more exciting, but it’s better to leave such do-or-die stakes to the movies. Try adding do-or-feel-like-doggie-doo-doo stakes to your story instead by asking yourself:

How can you up the ante for doing things that are good for you in the long run?

Some ideas for motivating yourself with loss-aversion:

  • Put money on the line to complete a 30-day challenge via a platform like stickk.com
  • Self-inflict social pressure by committing publicly to a goal or taking the lead, as per the previous point.
  • Compete, ideally in games that you’ll win from even if you lose.
  • Set deadlines to race yourself against time.
Taste test with friends outside in the summer with one of our bucket list items, Mount Currie, behind us
Started from the bottom…
mount-currie
…now we’re here.

Set Mini Missions for Yourself

What smaller-scale adventures can you go on?

View these missions as a way to practice living a more exciting life.

Travel is the best for this. It has a pre-defined beginning and end, the risk is low, the unusual setting will naturally draw out your sense of adventure, and you can try on different identities.

If you’re not in the mood to pack your bags, maybe these other examples from my life will spark your sense of micro-adventure:

Add Plot Twists

Coherent life stories are more meaningful and enjoyable,2See: Life story coherence and its relation to psychological well-being. but that doesn’t mean your plot line should be predictably straight. Add excitement by asking yourself:

What plot twist can you toss into your story to keep yourself and others on your toes?

Try new things, do stuff you might regret in the short term but not the long run, literally roll the dice on your decision making, and most importantly, interact more with people, who are always full of surprises.

I especially love Kenneth Stanley’s approach he shares in his worth-a-listen podcast appearance on the Invest Like The Best Podcast:

“I try to look at it like, Where would people predict, if they were me, they would go?, then not go there.”

Kenneth Stanley
Chris posing like Arnold

Get Input From Others

What would your mom, husband, or best friend suggest you do to make your life more exciting?

Even if you don’t like their input, listen because, as Oliver Burkeman wrote, “The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need.”

You can also seek out people who have lived the type of exciting life you want, get familiar with their stories, then ask yourself (or ask them directly, if you can):

What would your role model do in your situation?

For instance, I took inspiration from Arnold Schwarzenegger to figure out how to “pump up” my life in 2023.

Even more effective than either of the above suggestions is to surround yourself with exciting people. Problem is, they’re unlikely to want you around unless you’re doing exciting things, too. So best to get your self-reinforcing excitement cycle spinning with the other steps above.


(Not) The End

To make life more exciting:

  • Generate perpetual energy.
  • Gradually enhance your powers.
  • Find an adversary.
  • Repeat what’s worked in the past.
  • Subtract the unexciting stuff.
  • Stick your neck out.
  • Raise the stakes.
  • Add plot twists.
  • Get input from others.

You may not agree with all of these and you certainly won’t remember nor act upon them all so, to keep it simple, here’s my final suggestion:

Rather than ask, “How can I make life more exciting?”, guide your decisions with this question:

What can you do to make for a better story?

And for a final sprinkling of ants in your pants, I’ll leave you with two quotes from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that got me off my butt to do more story-worthy things:

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you’re going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

Donal Miller

Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”

Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

For more inspiration, read Donald Miller’s memoir or check out my post breaking down how to apply the basic structure of every story: a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it:

You may find some inspiration from these posts, too:

And for a steady supply of life-exciting ideas, join over 5,000 people who subscribe to my weekly newsletter, Consider This:

About the author

👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on TheZag.com is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

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