The Red Thread Exercise


I recently read a book that brought up the idea that the famous ‘red thread’ throughout stories couldn’t only be used to signify the cohesion of the story, or a staying element in it flowing like a river from one section to another. The symbol of the red thread can also be used to visualize qualities and facts about yourself that can be seen in multiple areas of your life, or like a guiding element you design parts of your life to. After all, you’re the one that is involved in all of them, and people can see or feel parts of you in all that you create or do.

It’s looking at segments of your life and seeing how they interact, what makes them intersect with each other.

Based on that, I have designed a little exercise.

These 4 areas of your life make up the most of who you are and your lifestyle.
The dotted line signifies loosely where the mental starts and the physical begins, but that can overlap.

Now you fill in

  • nouns
  • adjectives
  • small descriptions

About these areas.
RULE: The word being written inside has to interact with all 4 areas. Doesn’t fit? Leave it away or find a different word for it. My value is honesty, but how am I honest with clothing? Straightforward fit better.

As an example, here is mine (an ongoing project)

These words all mean something in the 4 areas of my life, but the ones they strongly interact with are the ones they are closest to/point towards.
Just to pick a few:

  • ‘minimalist’ is in the middle, because it is very strongly the thing that affects all 4. However, it is most expressed in my interests and my living (furniture etc) so it is angled like that. My clothes are minimal because I don’t like to keep too many, and I don’t like to wear a lot of accessories. And being a minimalist, of course it is also in my values - no bullshit, no clutter, physically or emotionally.
  • Now you’ll see that those words all interact with each other too. No bullshit mentally means also being straightforward, but decorating in a straightforward way means no clutter, which is also minimalist and clean. I don’t only love Sweden as an interest, I also like the Scandinavian style especially in furniture, which is a very natural style (wood, cork, fur or wool, leather, natural light) and natural is mentioned there as well; walking in the woods, baking, even embroidery is very natural … and calm! And so on.

You see how there are similarities between your clothing and the furniture you like, or how your values guide your interests. It gives you a great way to see what is “you” and what makes you happy.
You can also see which areas seem to not be interacting as much with the others, making your presence and your decisions less cohesive - it helps you adjust and decide what to buy or invest your time into.

This is not about making you one-dimensional. It is more like seeing your core, and seeing where it is represented. Maybe you’ll discover that you’ve invested a lot of time into things that don’t really suit you. Or you’ll see your lifestyle is very in tune with each part of it. It is good to branch out and be versatile, but it is also good to know your core you can return to that acts as your personal anchor or refuge.

I just wanted to share this in case anyone is curious about it in a self improvement/analyzation type of thing. Don’t take it too seriously though, matters of the heart are hard to classify. It is a super nice thought exercise though in getting to know yourself and what works for you. Just scribble around a little!


Great idea! This seems like a good way to reflect on how you perceive yourself. Sadly, I don’t have time tp try this right now, but I’ll definitely give this a shot tomorrow! But ad hoc, I can’t think of something that would fit all four categories… I’m looking forward to trying this!