We tell and listen to stories all of our lives, from kids on the playground talking about a cartoon they saw on TV or from their imagination to going out after work with our co-workers to let off a little steam and to share our thoughts about the day, our jobs, our bosses, our spouses, our children and our lives. We are wired for stories and respond to stories, whether we’re having a cup of coffee with friends or watching our favorite series on TV or laughing at the silly commercials during the Super Bowl. Life is about stories from our own to the ones we live vicariously through various means. Just think about when someone asks you why a certain event or outcome has happened in your life and you say, “It’s a long story” and indeed it probably is.
Stories are encoded in our DNA from the first cave paintings over 27,000 years ago to the novels, movies, and Youtube offerings, toasts at a wedding or sitting around a campfire. And science is proving that something organic happens in our brains when we are being told a story. Depending on the language being used, we start to experience what the storyteller is relating. If someone describes a foggy drive down Interstate 5 and the gloomy and fearful feeling capturing the driver as the fog wraps itself around the car and the road becomes harder and harder to see, we can relate to that experience and the story comes alive in our minds.
Stories plant ideas, emotions, thoughts, and lessons because they are the connection between cause and effect since that’s how we think and process the world. We think in narratives regardless of what we’re doing. If you think about it, personal stories and gossip probably make up the majority of your conversations. So why are stories important to the fabric of our lives? Not only because we are predisposed to them as a means of communicating, learning and navigating our increasingly complex society, but because it brings us together in ways that share our common experience. Sometimes stories just entertain us and then are gone while others persuade us, inform us and inspire us to take action or to change. When we tell a bedtime story to our children, we are also enriching them with our own experiences and securing the power of words in their imagination. And we often replay important parts of our lives that we perhaps overlooked or forgot.
(Image from takedaentertainment.com)