“There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them” was the tagline for Jules Dassin’s film The Naked City that became a tv series in the 1950s.
Everyone has a story. Might be interesting. Might be significant. Might not. The fact is that telling stories is important. As new tools become available, the ability to tell, consume, and share stories is escalating. What does this mean to you?
If you are a listener or reader, stories give life meaning and guidelines. Just ask a fundamentalist about the Bible. Or if you prefer, ask an entrepreneur about Sun Tsu’s The Art of War or a politician about Machiavelli’s The Prince.
But did you know that stories have a direct effect on your brain? This infographic (a new storytelling tool) from http://www.stayingaliveuk.com shows four dramatic effects—on neural coupling, dopamine, mirroring, and cortex activity. Simply put, the listener makes the story their own, shares the experience with the storyteller, seals the memory with an emotional charge, and uses more brainscape.
The Storyteller’s Reward
When we tell stories, the benefits can be subtle or blatant. Famous storytellers are rewarded with riches like James Patterson or immortality like Shakespeare. But what can you expect?
If you’re looking for healing for past hurts, need to find a context for a vexing idea, or long to expunge a swirling mass of anger, telling your story can help. But there’s more.
First there’s the satisfaction. There it is. Outside of your head, heart, and self. Existing in the world. Your Story.
Then there’s a greater sense of well-being. Real scientific studies show that the elderly who are encouraged to reminisce and tell stories about their lives feel better both physically and about themselves in general.
Storyteller Peter Falk with grandson Fred Savage in The Princess Bride.
Stories encourage engagement. The storyteller forges stronger bonds not only with listeners but with the community. In the best cases, there’s understanding. The storyteller feels understood and the audience understands something new, maybe even about themselves.
Don’t forget the greatest gift of storytelling: creative self-expression.
This piece of writing isn’t really a story, it’s an essay. My first blog post was a story about My Pulitzer Moment. One thing is certain, I have more stories to tell. What about you?