Someone once said, ‘The world is not made up of atoms, it is made up of stories.’ And science aside, I totally agree.
From the cradle to the grave, we are surrounded by stories.
And it is our stories that define us. Those we choose to remember and those we let slip into the great beyond. But they are still inside us, even those we don’t want to share.
Which is such a shame, because stories are created to be shared. An unborn story is like an unrealised dream. It holds so much promise, never to see the light of day.
Maya Angelou said, ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’
I know people like that who hold all their wonderful stories inside of them for fear they will be judged in some way, for breathing life into them. They hold their breath, then exhale very quietly, hoping not to bridge any gaps between themselves and anyone around them.
Because that’s the nature of stories. As Paulo Coelho said, ‘The power of storytelling is that it bridges the gaps where everything else has crumbled.’
I have seen that bridging from long gone ancestors to younger generations, who hearing family stories, repeatedly verified and vivified in the repetitious re-telling of stories, know their long-gone never met ancestors like their own brothers and sisters. And they carry it on, and their children carry it on, and so on, and so on, bridging the generations as they go. It is a beautiful thing to witness.
Stories are also memory aids, instruction manuals, and moral compasses, some of which we refer back to throughout our lives. Some weave themselves into our very essence.
Look how powerfully the first people of Australia have used them for 60,000 years, in all walks of their lives. Their storylines have been passed down, generation to generation, orally, the history of their people, the science and history of this great continent, and things which to this day, with all our modern scientific equipment, we can still only marvel at.
Like-wise, in America, their first nation people say:
· Tell me the facts and I’ll learn
· Tell me the truth and I’ll believe you
· But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.
Advertisers have finally caught up and now know the power of selling a story, rather than a product. This is why they attach a story to something they want to sell. Because we humans are 22 times more likely to remember something told in a story form than data. It’s the way our brains, over thousands of years, have configured themselves.
· 100,000 years ago we started using language
· 27-40,000 years ago we started cave painting
· 3,500 years ago we introduced text. No, not phone txt!
· 28 years power point
Story resonates with us so well, because it’s in our DNA
As humans we have been doing it a long, long time.
Before we knew story was powerful we just didn’t know what it was within it that made it so powerful. But now, with modern day science, we can actually scan our brains and actually see, in real time, the impact stories have on us physically and emotionally and what it is that makes hearing stories so pleasurable and amazingly powerful.
When we hear stories, Neuro-transmitters induce increased hormones in our brain. These three increased hormones just happen to be three of the four that are responsible for our happiness. They are – Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Endorphins. The only missing one is Serotonin.
· Dopamine increases our focus, motivation and memory. It is very good when you want to achieve a goal.
· Oxytocin is called the love hormone. It makes us feel empathy, trusting, generous, and bonds us.
· Endorphins are our laughter drug. We laugh more readily, we become more relaxed, focused and creative.
Why wouldn’t we love stories. And now we can see quite clearly how stories work their magic by stealthily emitting all these feel-good hormones, silently urging and imploring us to share them.
And share them we must. We really must. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have come before us and taught us through their stories, and a debt of obligation to all those who will follow us. Because as Rudyard Kipling said, ‘If history was taught in stories, we would never forget it.’
But what about those stories we don’t want to continue? Those ones we are currently creating as we travel down paths we want to abandon.
Just because we can’t change the waters we’ve already sailed, doesn’t mean we can’t up- anchor and reset our sails for sunnier waters.
At any stage in life we can change the middle and the end of our story. It will probably require great courage to do so, but as authors of our own story, we have that choice. Call it creative license.
Now, before going, I have two love stories for you.
The first one, is in loving memory of my beautiful mother: We both found her parting at the airport, every one or two years, so traumatic, she one day suggested we just say toodle pip, which we did from then on, and parting was a little less painful. That’s why I always sign off toodle pip, just hoping I’ll hear her soft voice answer me, one last time.
The other story, is in memory and love for my grandmother, whose name was Isabella Hoyne.
So, once again,