Friday, March 18, 2011

Stories are essential

Can you remember the first story you ever heard? How about some of your favorite stories from your childhood? Were they fairy tales? Did they come from a book, or did your parents or grandparents tell you? Most children love to hear stories, as do many adults. In addition to the fact that stories connect us, there a deeper, psychological reason.

There are many theories, but an article titled “The Inside Story” by Peter Guber in the March/April issue of Psychology Today summed it up nicely. He said we respond to stories on a basic human level. Because we are social creatures, stories give us an opportunity to experience events that fall outside the realm of our possibility.

Human beings also are able empathize with characters, which allows us to put ourselves in that position. Empathizing with someone else allows us to create an opportunity for problem solving, or at least the opportunity to ask ourselves how we would react in the same situation. It teaches us about who we are and how we act in the world.

I’ve heard that our brains can’t distinguish fiction from reality, which is why we “feel” the emotions of others on the screen on in a book. I (finally) saw “The King’s Speech,” and became completely uncomfortable watching Colin Firth struggle through the first few minutes of the movie. I felt his pain, and watched other people in the theater squirm in their seats, as well.

Stories enrich our lives by offering us the opportunity to learn about ourselves and the world we live in. Don’t sell yourself short. Mastering the craft is a noble endeavor.

Talk to you soon,



  1. My father had a third grade education and was unable to read me stories, but he was a master storyteller. I do believe his storytelling was a precursor to my successful writing.

  2. Such a beautiful post, Mary!

  3. Linda, I believe many writers were exposed to the beauty of language through stories when they were young. Have you written about any of his stories?

    Thanks, Becky!