October 10, 2014
John Mulder

A Storied Past (And Future)

If you have something to say, put it in a story. It’s the best way to get someone to pay attention and elicit a response.

The reason? Studies have shown the brain processes imagined experiences the same way as real experiences. That means a good story can create the same genuine emotions and physical responses as if the person had the experience firsthand. Even when we KNOW it’s a fictional account we may, and often do, experience an authentic human reaction to it. We cry when Old Yeller dies and we scream when the killer jumps out from the shadows.

Stories have always been a central form of communication because they connect us to a larger set of universal truths. From the first cave drawings to the YouTube video that was shared “just now,” each story has the power to unlock a message we need to hear.

Through stories we share passions, sadness, hardships and joys. We share meaning and purpose. Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find common ground. Stories explain how things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, how we persuade others, how we understand our place in the world, create our identities, and define and teach social values.

Stories are the pathway to engaging our imagination. By engaging our imagination, we become participants in the meaning of the story. We have an opportunity to step out of our shoes, look at things from a new perspective, and increase our understanding of what others are going through. It’s a portal to innovation, self-discovery and change.