Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Absolutes Eliminate Possibility

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Why all this talk about living better stories? Why do we write and read and try for anything different at all?

Because of possibility.

The possibility that there is more you can do. The possibility that you have settled for less. The possibility that a better story is not just possible, but doable.

Has anyone ever declared the world to be absolute to you? Maybe they shared with you their knowledge and understanding, but instead of proposing it as a way to see things, they declared it as the only way to see things.

And then you closed your eyes. Why look when there is nothing else to see?

Maybe they described where they thought your life should go. Or what you are good at.

You are good at math.
You are good at working with your hands.
You are good at doing what everyone expects from you.
You are good at nothing.

This declaration was so absolute, you let it be. Never challenging. Never questioning.

Declaring absolutes help you to feel better about the world. They make it easier to predict tomorrow. They make the uncertainty of life more palatable.

Absolutes can be like a teaspoon of sugar. They make it easier to swallow the medicine of what everybody else wants.

Sometimes absolutes are negative and limiting and destructive. Sometimes absolutes are wrong.

The world is flat.
Nothing can travel faster than the speed of sound.
Man will never walk on the moon.


You don’t have what it takes.
Your dream is ridiculous and impossible.
Your story is too impractical.
You will fail.

Thankfully someone questioned whether or not the world is really flat, and discovered the other side of it. Thankfully engineers and scientists kept tinkering and designed faster planes. Thankfully Neil Armstrong took that small but giant leap.

The question I ask you is, will you question your own absolutes?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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7 Replies

  1. I try my best to question everything. I’m good at that–unless I have first hand experience. Then it’s easy to fall into the “absolutes” and make hasty generalizations. Especially if I was hurt in the past. Obviously, forgiveness is key toward moving forward and keeping an open mind is very important as well.

  2. You made me think of how powerful and life changing a “What if” question can be if we follow it up with a possibility instead of a fear. Oddly enough, I just wrote about that idea. Great post, Jeremy.

  3. I do the same thing when something hurts me. I tend to compartmentalize it as evil or bad. And then I grab onto the opposite as good.

  4. Cool. What if can be helpful, but it could make things worse, especially if we ask “what if” about the past in a way we don’t get over the past.

  5. Yes, completely agree with that.

  6. Questioning my absolutes was one of the best things I ever did. What an amazing world of possibilities exist when you stop trying to be right about everything. Great post.

  7. I question my doubt, but I never want to question my belief, “I will succeed”, even if the outside voices scream “You will fail, You’re not good enough”

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