There are many different ways to tell a story – around a campfire, at night before bed, at family gatherings, maybe even keeping a diary or journal. But the truth is that we are always telling stories. We’re hard-wired to do so.
Scientists investigating “why we think” have discovered that the human brain has evolved into a narrative-creating machine. No matter what we encounter, we automatically impose a story-like chronology and cause-and-effect logic on it. Facts alone are meaningless; it’s the stories we create around the facts that become important.
Stories also light up our brains. Again, according to science, when we hear facts and data, two areas of our brain light up in response. When we hear a story, seven areas of our brain light up. Which explains why we remember information told to us in a story with much greater ease and for a longer time that when we’re given only hard facts.
But beyond the science of how and why we tell stories is the joy of storytelling itself, and the connections we make with the people around us through the telling of stories.
By telling stories to our children, we can pass on valuable life lessons, ethical guidelines and even family history and tradition in a meaningful way. It is also a way to give our children an understanding of their place in the family and in the world. And the time we spend telling stories to our children clearly tells our children something else beyond the actual story. It tells them they are important to us; that they are loved.
The sad part is that too often we forget or stop telling those stories as our children move into adulthood or as our lives become more complex. Yet the need and rewards of storytelling are still there.
Whether through taping of oral histories or by writing down our memories, we can continue to shape the story of our lives and preserve it for the generations to follow. Storytelling can lend clarity and purpose to our own lives and can provide this same clarity, purpose and strength to those we leave behind.
LegacyShield’s MyLifeStories section was developed to help you record your unique stories and archive special memories and moments from your life. These stories, weaved together, create a legacy that can live on for generations.