How to Make Your Life a Masterpiece . . . become an inverse paranoid

When someone tells you their life story, they unknowingly also tell you if they are a regular, run-of-the-mill paranoid person or a fabulous, one-of-a-kind, inverse paranoid person. A regular run-of-the-mill paranoid person thinks life, experiences and people are out there to do them harm. They are constantly stressed out, negative, anxious and complaining about life - waiting for the other boot to drop. Paranoid people are experts at brooding. They dwell on the past, nurse old wounds, indulge in comparisons, chew on regrets, second guess, obsess on problems and always anticipate the worst-case scenario.

On the other hand, an inverse paranoid person believes life and people are out there to do them good – to a paranoid extent. They are relaxed, positive, believe everyone loves them and that good things are always headed their way. They ask for help when needed, delight in differences, nourish relationships, uplift friends and family, inspire, delight, comfort and charm. When the other boot drops and clobbers them on the noggin, they grab it and go dancing.

For example, if a regular paranoid person tells you their life story it will go something like this: “My mother was always depressed while I was growing up and my father was obsessed with his career so I grew up shy, insecure and unloved. Then they got divorced and messed me up big time. Then I got married and my husband turned out just like my father and he left me and now all my children are messed up because of their father, and on and on and so forth. You get the picture. This person has written her life story in her mind, and it is a tragedy.

Now, an inverse paranoid person may have the same plot details to work with, but they choose to write their life story more like this: “My mom often glued herself to the bed sheets while I was growing up so I had lots of unstructured time to develop a vivid imagination. I learned great skills in independence and responsibility while I kept the house clean and my siblings fed. ‘Who’s that?’ I asked my mom once when a strange man walked through the living room. ‘Why son, that’s your father,’ my mother answered to my surprise. I knew great things were in store for me because my parents were the perfect character studies for a murder mystery I was going to write when I grew up and became a famous author. After my wife left me, my remarkable children lined me up with a blind date who turned out to be an angel. We got married and I’ve been living in second heaven every since.”

This is basically the same story told through different lenses. When we look through the lens of a camera, we see everything in front of us in the viewfinder. Then we decide what detail to focus on before we take the picture. We can choose to look at our life through a lens that focuses on our blessings or our hardships. The picture we take needs to include precisely what we want to emphasize because that picture will become the story of our life. We get to choose whether we want a life story that ends as a tragedy or a masterpiece. A masterpiece doesn’t come as the result of all light and no darkness. A masterpiece is darkness that has been dispersed by the light.