Once upon a time, there was a… excited about the story already? Alas, I will not be telling a story today but will introduce you to this magical world where you’ll understand the extent to which storytelling can help change a person’s life. What do you think about the concept of stories? Be it a fairytale, fantasy, horror, or any genre you like. Does it take your mind away from reality into a new world?
Storytelling is as old as the human race. Imagine the cavemen being so enthusiastic to tell stories that they would use a stick or rock as a pen and mud or walls for paper. Many times we forget names and faces or what we learned in high school but a good story? We never forget.
From the cavemen, novelists to movie producers all of them tell a story. Excluding the professional aspect of it, telling stories is one of the urges a human cannot resist. We will always crave stories because that is how we make sense of the world.
I remember when I was a child, my grandfather would take me for a long walk over beach while he would recite a story. His stories had a different charm, I could feel every word he would say. It was full of emotions, so vividly stated that I felt I was in that story. Keeping the fun part aside, now when I look back at those days I realised the impact his storytelling had on me. The words he used were so profound, his style was so mesmerising and there was a different appeal in his voice. It reflected experience and confidence with a touch of affection. You can say that I am being biased because I am talking about my cute grandpa. This is the power of storytelling. It instills another level of confidence and experience in a person.
Bachelors in Psychology from Erasmus University
Neuroeconomics & Educational Psychology
From mountains, oceans, places, food to the human mind and behaviour, I try to
find ways of knowing myself more through experiencing life. In these 22 years of my existence I have been fascinated with our mind. I remember, when I was a child I used to love ghost stories, especially scaring my friends with it. I would tell them that there is a spirit around us and that
they would suddenly feel a brush of cold air. Even though I would make all this up, my friends would feel that brush of cold air.
We engage with others through stories. Here are four reasons why stories matter so much to us.
Universal in Nature
Creates Own Identity
Makes us Wise
pass down Morals
Stories preserve the past and keep the culture alive. It transmits traditions from one generation to another thereby increasing the feeling of unity as people find common ground with other people through such stories.
Stories frame how we think, what we feel, and how we justify our decisions
Remember the story of the boy who would continuously lie to people about a tiger chasing him to get attention. The day the tiger genuinely chased him, no one believed him. The moral being that lying is bad. Instilling such morals in a child right from the start is very important and stories are the best way to do so since it engages the child more in paying attention. The charm of any story is that it has the power to emotionally stimulate us which motivates us to take action.
Today if you face any obstacle or achieve success then you have a story to thank. You learn and progress through your parent’s and ancestors’ stories or your culture’s history. Stories are the easiest and the fastest way to make people aware of their morals and values. People would lose attention when given presentations but a decent story would sustain everyone’s attention in the room.
Neuro Scientific Aspects:
The above content talks about what stories are, their benefits, and the perks of being a storyteller but am I just making this up, or is there any scientific backup?
Apparently, our brains are tuned to remember stories because of the emotional connection it forms. As stated by the best-selling author Kristen Lamb in an interview, she gave an example of a Red Honda City car. If one day you decide to get a red Honda you will end up seeing that car every day. Was there a sudden invasion of that car? No! But your brain starts to pay more attention to that car on the streets. That is how our mind works, you talk about a certain thing and it starts to notice that thing more.“While facts and figures engage a small area of the brain, stories engage multiple brain regions that work together to build colorful, rich three-dimensional images and emotional responses.” DH Saphiere, 2015.
According to Dr. Paul Zak, a professor of neuroscience who studies the connection between people, stated that character-driven stories release oxytocin in people. Oxytocin is a chemical in the brain which enhances empathy, i.e. we become better at experiencing others’ emotions.
Will you believe me if I say that stories can heal people? Well, science says it can! Every time you tell a loved one your story, your body automatically turns off the stress response, lowering the toxic stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, and supplies more of the healing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. This turns on the body’s self-repair mechanism and relaxes your nervous system thereby helping your mind to lower depression, Anxiety, fear, and anger.
Overall, your brain responds well to stories. Funnily, it takes ages for one to remember what
they learned in their Geography or History class but when told to recite the lines of their favorite movie they do so without any hesitation. We end up remembering the characters’ names and faces better than we remember real people.
Stories give us reassurance, a sense of security which instills faith and hope in us for survival. So don’t fear to tell your story! Who knows one day you’ll change someone’s life with that.