We all love watching those well-crafted stories in movies and television shows. We love how the themes of those fictional books take us away from our realities into their worlds. Other people love impersonating their favourite characters and living their stories through video games. However, storytelling is not just about entertainment. It has a much bigger role to play in our lives. In fact, storytelling is a fundamental part of human beings. So, why is this the case?
- Storytelling helps us to understand our place in the world
Stories help us create connections between each other. They help us see what we have in common with others and they also help us work with other people despite our differences. We use storytelling to make sense of events we don’t fully understand. Our ancestors tried to understand lightning by telling stories about an angry god who hurled thunderbolts created from within a volcano. Children forge an identity through stories as they learn moral principles from their favourite characters. We help our kids understand their place in the world through stories about their culture and traditions.
Storytelling is a fundamental part of human beings, and the stories we tell today are just as pertinent in explaining our place in the world, as did the myths centuries ago. We come to understand the unique roles we must play in the world through stories.
2. Storytelling shapes our perception of the world
Every one of us have unique stories to tell. And the stories we tell are basically a collection of the experiences we have lived and the meanings we have inferred from them (life lessons learned). We understand many aspects of our own lives through stories. These stories shape our perception of the world. They form the lens through which we see the world. And because our decisions and actions rely heavily (or solely) on our perceptions, it makes storytelling a fundamental part of our lives.
We live in a fast-paced world, where we are being constantly bombarded by information from different sources – e.g., people, the internet, books, social media, television, the news media, movies, etc. But although we are continuously trying to filter and make sense of these different ideas, concepts, opinions, and judgements; in reality, we are not aware of most of this information. Moreover, some of this information might make sense and seem important, but it does not push us to take action.
The type of information that moves us and pushes us into action is often disseminated in the form of a story we can relate to; the type of story that matches our perception of the world. Big and small businesses alike have understood this concept, and therefore storytelling plays an important role in their branding.
- Storytelling brings us closer to other people
Who can resist a really good story? This probably explains why you like spending so much time with your grandparents. Or how you are able to get the attention of your colleagues. You will end up boring everyone if you are using charts and graphs while pitching an idea. What’s more, most of that information will likely be forgotten by the next day. Want to capture people’s attention? Do you want to push them to take action? Or do you want to bring a group of people together? Storytelling is your answer.
Stories have a way of taking us away from our realities into the experiences lived by the storyteller. We feel what the storyteller feels, and we start thinking the way the storyteller thinks. We understand people better through storytelling. Stories teach us how to empathize and see things through other people’s viewpoints. This is how stories bring people together. This is why every community shares a common story.
Once you are able to understand the fundamental role storytelling plays in our lives; you will realize that its applications are endless, and its potential is still widely untapped.