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If Your Life Is a Movie and You’re the Director, Why Did You Add this Scene to It?


Imagine your life as an epic, three-hour movie. In this saga there are numerous high points and low points, and both drama and comedy. There are coming-of-age moments and passages of growing older.

There will likely be some real challenges, and maybe even a few moments when you think you won’t make it. The movie may have some scary scenes. It will be tough! But there will also be scenes of joy and victory. There will be times when you’re proud of what you’ve overcome.

Sooner or later, every movie and every life comes to an end.

But let’s not consider the end just yet, with all the credits and the debrief over whether sitting in the theater for three hours was worth it. Instead, let’s consider the scenes that transpire along the way.

In the epic, three-hour movie of your life, every scene exists for a reason.

Where do these scenes come from? Presumably they come from the director, who determines the plotting and sequence of events from start to finish.

Who directs the movie of your life? Well, you do—of course. It’s your life!

So here’s the interesting part: in the movie of your life, what happens when something goes wrong? What happens when an unexpected challenge appears?

If you believe that your life isn’t determined entirely by chance, but instead at least partially through your own choices, perhaps the unexpected challenges are there for you to grow. If something happens that isn’t what you want or expect, ask yourself, “Why do I put this in my movie?” and “How will I respond?”

We know that we grow through hardship, but we don’t often purposely choose hardship. Or do we? Maybe we write these scenes into the movie of our life, either consciously or otherwise.

I don’t believe “everything happens for a reason” or that the world is fair. If we pause for even a moment to consider the victims of war and violence, as well as those who live in true poverty, I’d never want to suggest that somehow they imposed those tragedies on their lives.

But if we leave trauma aside and focus instead on our lives of ordinary ups and downs, perhaps it’s helpful to consider the scenario of our life as a movie, with scenes added or deleted by the director.

If something goes wrong in the movie of your life, where did that scene come from? Why did you put it there, and what can you learn from it?


Image: Fuzzy Little Man

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  • Bryn says:

    I’ve heard this same sentiment expressed in various ways. Today your phrasing of it strikes as the most cogent of any I can remember. I’ll carry this idea with me into the new year. Thanks.

  • I love this analogy. I like to think that this year has been my montage – where I work hard and train hard to transition into a better version of myself (which will be next year’s scene)!

  • Nancy says:

    From a very young age I’ve observed my life as if it were a movie (not sure that’s a good thing); so much so I became a filmmaker. The challenge for me has been learning to make choices that don’t “play out like a movie,” but let me experience life as it is. I can look back now and see times I made decisions because they would have been scripted that way. Oi!

    Great post, thanks.

  • Kimber Falkinburg says:

    “Why did I put it there and how can I learn from it”….now you’re speaking my language! Thanks, Chris, for the reminder that no thing just happens to me. I create a space and have the power the change its landscape.

  • Tam says:

    Chris – as Kimber said above, now you’re speaking my language! Of course we can’t be the sole director of external events, but I often say “if you don’t think you’re in control of your own thoughts, then who do you think is?” – works just as well saying “if you’re not the director of your thoughts ….” Seeing everything through the filter of learning or growth certainly helps when the challenging ‘scenes’ come up.

  • Chares says:

    I really resonate with this article. It presents a wonderful ignigjter as I write my memoir

  • Niranjan says:

    “Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

  • Tracey Ammann says:

    I love this Chris. Why is …. in my movie? What a great way to frame this!! Thanks so much 🙂

  • Wendy says:

    Great post, Chris! I’ve heard similar sentiments before (“you can’t control events, only how you react to them”) but not expressed as well. Four years ago (tomorrow, in fact — wow!), we had a house fire. As stupid as it sounds, and as much as I doubted people who claimed such things before, I realized through the fire that our family was very blessed. It gave me an opportunity to re-prioritize my life (which I’m still doing) and has enabled me to view my life in a different light. So, if I’d had a choice, I wouldn’t have put a fire in my life’s story, but as a writer I know that a character shows its true mettle in reaction to stressful events. I’m still learning about mine.

  • Paulien says:

    When I read the title of this post, my first thought was: “Would this scene be relevant?” Movie directors tend to cut the boring, everyday scenes and focus on major events. So as a director of my own life I would wonder not just about how to handle difficulties, but how to make each and every day (or scene) matter.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Siddhee says:

    There is no sadness in life…….sadness and happiness both depends on your thought process wether you interpret your situations rightly or wrongly…

  • Treavor says:

    On the traumatic point, I’ve discovered that if I don’t dedicate the time, space, care, and sensitivity to an issue, then it will fester. Simply picking up and moving on doesn’t really resolve the issue, it delays the depression or sometimes causes an anxiety.

    “Everything happens for a reason”: I believe in the possibility of that idea, but not wholeheartedly. I believe that something bad can happen to you, and it is your choice to either turn into something good so that it is not wasted or you can let it haunt you and ruin your life.

    This has been my experience.

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