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Life Story Writing Prompts – That Lead to an Examined Life

 

There are many ways you can write about your life.  You can make it autobiographical and write about your childhood, teen years, your 20’s, and so on. You can use a memoir style, focusing on recurring themes.  You can simply make life story entries as you recall stories or feel in the mood to write about certain things.

You can describe how your views on things changed over the years and, importantly, why your views changed.  You can reflect on how your thinking evolved and whether those changes were healthy and productive or whether your evolved thinking held you back.

Using Share Life Plus, you can author your thoughts and memories in any way that makes sense to you.

It’s worthwhile to keep in mind that we are all a product of our time, our culture, the environment and events of our formative years (0-8 years old), our choices, our thoughts – our past. Our early years are particularly important in identifying who we were and understanding our strengths and weaknesses. For many of the writing prompts we provide, you can expand on your responses and make them more insightful by examining and writing the “whys” of your responses — one, two, or three layers deep.  In the process, you are likely to learn more about yourself which leads to greater self-awareness – one of the side benefits of writing your life story.

Examining your life story has great rewards for you, your children, and your grandchildren.  You will benefit from an enhanced self-awareness which results in greater self-assurance and inner peace. Other benefits include enriched emotional intelligence, greater empathy, better listening skills, improved critical-thinking skills, improved decision-making skills, improved communication skills, enhanced leadership capabilities, and better relationships with yourself and others.

Writing Your Life Story Can be Challenging

Examining your life story can bring back old emotional wounds.  This can be difficult, but the process of understanding and writing about old wounds is an opportunity for cleansing.  As you put things in perspective, you will understand yourself better and, in the process, will find a way to forgive yourself and others.

Nobody gets through life without scars. Nobody. If nothing else, there are valuable lessons to be learned for you and for others in understanding your personal struggles and how/why you overcame them or felt you never really did overcome them in your life.  Everyone gains from insight and understanding.  By understanding your struggles, your recipients and future generations of your family will gain empathy for you and for people in general.

This Is Not About Spilling Your Guts

Write only what you feel comfortable writing about.  By design, our writing prompts deal with both positive and negative elements in your life.  You decide what you want to write about.  We urge you to find ways to bring negative elements to positive personal conclusions and/or positive recommendations.

For everyone, life is a process of learning – tell them what you learned.  Nobody’s perfect, so don’t write like you were a legend and your life was perfect.  Share Life Plus is a private environment, so the content you write will remain private with who you choose to share your stories with (provided they keep it private).  That privacy frees you to share truth to the level you feel comfortable with – the more you share, the more you will be capable of sharing.

Everyone Has An Interesting Story

Everyone – Everyone – Everyone – has a fascinating life story and that can benefit your loved ones.  Your writing provides a lasting gift of insight – your loved ones will learn about themselves as they learn about you and your experiences.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a good writer or not – bypass writing formats/writing rules if you don’t want to bother. Substance over form – the important thing is getting your genuine thoughts and words on (digital) paper. Your loved ones benefit most from hearing your unvarnished truth(s) rather than from your good writing style.

We’ve created some categories and > 200 prompts to inspire your writing – we hope you find our list helpful. We’ve tried to get to the substance of things in many of our prompts.  The value to be gained from your responses are in the lessons learned that you share with your family.

List of Life Story Categories

Basic Elements
Childhood / Formative Years
Coming of Age
Your 20’s
Family
Overcoming Adversity
Relationships
What You’ve Concluded is Important to You
Insights Gained Over a Lifetime
Morales, Values, Spirituality, Religion
Health
Other (there are many)

Basic Life Story Elements

Full name / Meaning of name / Nicknames + origin of nicknames
Date of Birth
Birth location
Hair color / eye color / adult height / adult weight (or for most, your weight varied)  🙂
Historical events on or near your birthdate

Childhood / Formative Years 

In this grouping, we’re reflecting on the first 12 years / through elementary school
Important elements of your formative years that impacted your development – positive/negative – historical events, the environment you grew up in, interactions with your parents/siblings / other adults / other children, etc
Describe your first memory
Childhood hero – why
Impact mom/dad had on your life – positive/negative
Values your parents lived by and tried to instill in you
Things you most enjoyed doing with your father, mother, family as a kid
Did you grow up in one home or move several times – feelings regarding either experience
How your grandparents/parents influenced your early years – best memories
Uncles, aunts, cousins, close family friends
Why your mom or grandma was the best cook in the world
What your home life was like — neighborhood/country
Chores you were expected to complete regularly
Besides your immediate family, who lived in your home or was like family to you
Pets
Things you collected, things you treasured
Achievements – scholastic, athletic, self-learned skills
Little victories/failures that had a great impact or perhaps an oversized impact they shouldn’t have had
The balance (or lack thereof) between freedom and authority in your home – impact
Insecurities that manifested themselves early
Impact religion had on your life – positive elements, less than positive elements
Your favorite family traditions
Greatest family vacations
Your closest friends
Your favorite cartoons
Great snow days – your favorite snowmageddon
Kinds of make-believe you remember playing as a child
Your views of growing up in whatever your birth order

Coming of Age

In this grouping, we’re reflecting on our teen years
How your grandparents/parents influenced your teens – for the better / negatively
Freedoms gained/not-gained over time – impact
Values your parents lived by and tried to instill in you
Life lessons gained from your parents/grandparents
What mealtime generally was like
External influences – historical events, economic events, weather events, people
Your first love / important love
Non-family people that had the greatest impact on you – how/why
What you rebelled against – impact – for the better /negative results
What you complied with – impact – for the better / negative results
Where you followed others – impact – for the better / negative results
Where you chose to not follow others – impact – for the better / negative results
Elements or people you felt you had to break free from – why / impact
Insecurities you overcame/were unable to overcome – impact
Music, literature, the arts that touched you, made you better/ just hit you the right way
Teacher(s) that had the greatest impact on you – how/why
College, university, trade school – primary lessons learned, how you grew from the experience
Lessons learned during school years that had an impact on your life
Greatest peer pressures and how you dealt with them
Run-ins with the law – impact on you
Someone you helped along the way – impact on you
Worst rejection you received / most embarrassing moment
A time when you struggled with your identity and self-worth
Your closest friends
Games you played
Early jobs and what they taught you

Your 20’s

In this grouping, we’re reflecting on our single life before we partnered up with someone special / or didn’t partner up.  We realize there are as many stories as there are people, but for most, the 20’s predate marriage or partnering with another and are also when we first partnered seriously or got married.
How your formative years and coming of age experiences influenced your approach to your 20’s
Non-family people that had the greatest impact on you – how/why
Discovering your real self and how you benefitted/suffered as a result
Great travel experiences that opened your eyes
Your first love / first serious love
How you met your spouse/partner – funny stories, unbelievable luck, love, at first sight, etc
Reasons you fell in love with your spouse/partner
How/when you knew she/he was the one – what one or two things really stood out
The engagement story
Wedding day
The honeymoon
Your closest friends
Fun, wild, crazy, and spontaneous times/experiences
The moment you chose to take action on something
Armed forces experiences that shaped you
The age you felt you really started to understand who you were / what you were going to be about

Your Family

Stories of your grandparents – where, when, how they met, fell in love, obstacles they overcame
Stories of your parents – where, when, how they met, fell in love, obstacles they overcame
Greatest family stories – Immigration Stories | Survival Stories | Legendary characters | Transformational events
Things you wish you understood better about your parents/grandparents
Major family events and their impact

How your family handled the bad times: divorce, death, arguments, lawsuits, estrangements, etc
Faith and religious traditions of your family, your ancestors
Elements your parents taught you that you’ve tried to carry forward
Interactions of ancestors with historical events
Your similarities/differences with family members – impacts
Signature phrases of your parents/grandparents
Who taught you how to work
Family members that had the greatest positive impacts on your thinking, feeling, growth – how/why
Your experience of love for your children — describe what it means to you
Values you tried to live by and tried to instill in your children
Mistakes you’ve made / where you feel you could have done better / things you’re proud you did
How the family grew stronger over time / how and why elements of the family grew apart
How family milestones were celebrated
Significant rituals within the family – Religious holidays, remembrances, prayers, Thanksgiving, New Years Eves, vacations, etc
Favorite family vacations spots, great camping trips, great fishing trips, great adventures

Overcoming Adversity

Everyone experiences adversity in their lives. Nobody gets through life without personal trials.  To the extent you are able, others can benefit from knowing the obstacles you overcame, how you did it, what realizations helped drive you in overcoming those obstacles, and so on.
At some point, at least to some degree, you overcame fears, anxieties, moods, shame, self-doubt, etc, in your life.  Write about anything you have the strength to write about.  Personal healing and cleansing will be your reward and insight will be a great gift to your multi-generational family.

Relationships

The people you’ve most loved in your life – why, how you grew as a person because of those loves
Did your loving relationships last a lifetime, or did they end – why
The most important and valued friendships in your life – what you gained from those relationships
Your first best friend(s) – why were they your best friends – good or bad impacts of those relationships
It is said you are your 5 closest friends – so what were you – as your closest friends evolved over time
Qualities in friends do you most treasure
How your relationship with yourself has evolved over time
The golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do undo you – how it applies to relationships
Trust, honesty, respect in relationships

What You’ve Concluded is Important to You

Family, love, health, security, values, knowledge, ongoing personal development, wealth
Events that made you realize what is important
What personal wealth means to you
What a good life lived means to you
Things you wished you understood at a younger age

Insights Gained Over a Lifetime

Lessons learned from your understanding of your parents/grandparents lives
How being a parent enriched your life / made you a better person
How you might have done better with your children
The impact your career choice has had on your life
Lessons learned during your career
How living good values benefitted your life
Your experiences with fear, forgiveness, joy, victory, defeat – feelings that had an impact
The expectations of family/society vs you being you
The empowerment gained by understanding that being exactly who you are was the best version of you and benefitted you the most
Worrying about things is not productive and is wasted time and energy

Morals, Values, Spirituality, Religion

Your religion, views on religion, spiritual self
Your relationship with God or your choice to not have a relationship with God
Your personal values and why they are important to you
Motto(s) or creed(s) you live by
The person or people that had the greatest impact on your personal values choices
Causes you’ve got behind and how those experiences have enriched your life
Volunteer work you’ve done and what you’ve gained from those experiences
How your views have evolved over your lifetime
Why you believe some value spirituality, and some don’t

Health

Good health is your greatest asset – do not take health for granted
Family health history – mental, physical
Your overall health over the years – mental, physical
Illnesses/ages
Surgeries, testing, broken bones, allergies
Keys to health – mental, physical, spiritual, diet, exercise, habits
Dangers of vices
Balance / avoiding extremes
How you overcame injuries, health issues
Importance of building good habits while you are young
It’s never too late to start living good habits

Other Life Story Elements

Introvert / extrovert
Greatest achievement(s) of your life
Greatest spiritual moments
Greatest achievement(s) of your career
How your work made you a better person
Great bosses / how you were a great boss/importance of developing others
Favorite hobbies / past times
Your favorite family stories – mom, dad, grandma, granddad – others further back …
Biggest events in your life and how have they changed you as a person
Decisions you made that had a long-lasting positive effect on your life
Most difficult decision(s) you had to make
Forks in the Road you’ve encountered – how/why you responded to them
Your slow-motion-time experiences
Your relationship with money – how that relationship has evolved, lessons learned
Lessons learned the hard way
Moments where you understood what it meant to feel alone
Moment of spiritual crisis
Unpredictable turns in life
Common threads throughout your life
What you find uplifting/beautiful in life
Countries you’ve lived in or visited / impacts/lessons learned
Impact of travel
The most enjoyable gift you gave someone
The most difficult phone call you had to make / meeting/ giver of news
A circumstance where you stood by and/or supported someone going through a difficult period
Someone you greatly miss in your life
Severe weather events – hurricanes, fires, floods, tornados, etc and how you and your family dealt with these setbacks
Tragedies and how your family dealt with them
Favorite cars you’ve owned
On lending money to people
How your political views have evolved over time
Your views on politics, democracy, capitalism, communism, authoritarianism, fascism, etc
Your views on the importance of truth
Your sense of humor, what you find funny, the value of humor
Discuss your beliefs on true love, the value of love, what love means to you
What makes the right life partner
What you would hope you are remembered for
On paying it forward
Your highest high – lowest low
On making yourself better every day
Historical events in your lifetime – witness of, involvement in – impact on you
Importance of nature to you – where/how you like to experience nature – great memories
The most daring thing you ever did
Stupidest thing you ever did
Most embarrassing moment
Upload favorite family recipes
Things you are grateful for

 

Alternative Quick List

Elements you may want to include in your Life Story:

Birth

Childhood

Teen Years

First Love

How You Met Your Spouse

Wedding

Birthday

Holidays

School

Special occasions

Trips & vacations

Relationships

Hobbies

Sports

Religion / Faith

Chronological history

Work / Career

Baby memory book

Pre-school years

Grade school year

High school years

College years

Adult years

Parenthood

Retirement

Grandparents

Photos

Achievements / Awards

Keepsakes

Recipes

Anything genuine

 

 

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