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Telling stories. We do it everyday.
As grown-ups, we’d tell our kids about a time back in our day. Perhaps about the time when mobile devices, social networks and online gaming websites weren’t as popular as they are now. We’d tell them all about “snail mail” which was the only way we could send letters to each other long before email became a thing, or a world without wireless connections and how we’d rely on looking up information from books, listening to music from the radio, or learning recipes passed down from their great grandparents.
We’d tell them these stories to enrich their experience of the world they live in today. It allows us to be grateful for the conveniences and inventions of our time, while teaching us to cherish the very essence of what life is about. While looking back in time brings a deep sense of nostalgia for us, aching for a time when we weren’t all so distracted at the dinner table, telling stories is exactly what we need to bring us back to each other. The power of telling stories goes beyond the dinner table, and into every moment of our lives.
Stories rekindle a time when things were far more simpler so it can teach us to take it slow and be mindful of our actions and what we have now. It reveals our endless potential as human beings as we see all that we’ve made possible thanks to technology.
Stories have a place everywhere. Even in our fast-paced information age, stories continue to be told. Stories are being told in a number of ways to advocate change, raise awareness on public issues, help others survive a crisis, or on a very intimate level, share personal experiences with someone in hopes to inspire healing and transformation. We tell stories to our children in the time before bed or on the way to school so we can be a place of openness and comfort for them. We tell stories to our students to calm them and show them they’re not alone. Stories are powerful because we see ourselves reflected in them. It reminds us of our shared humanity. Through stories, we share passions and fears, joys and sorrows, hardships and triumphs, and we find the common ground that connects us to each other.
We all grew up listening to stories. Fairy tales and fables are two examples, and form the basis of the fundamental moral values we’ve been taught as children. Fairness, honesty, integrity, courage, hardwork to name a few. Stories help us create our identities as we tell stories of how we think and what we feel as it relates to our own family and cultural experiences. Storytelling shapes our worldview as children and when we grow up, our relationships with other people shape them even more, giving us more stories to share to deepen our empathy and understanding of each other.
As parents, teachers and advisors, we must preserve and encourage the art of storytelling in our children so they too can pass on their wondrous ideas and clever interpretations of the world for future generations to reflect on and revel in. Stories keep culture and tradition alive, and teaches us to embrace humanity in all its diversity.
Stories hold the power to make us wiser. We learn from past mistakes by making different choices and telling a new story. Instead of focusing on failure, we can focus on learning. Instead of finding fault, we can focus on communicating with each other. We learn from other people’s experiences by using their stories to guide us in living more meaningful lives. We tell each other stories to learn from each other, and to give each other what we might need at the time that we need it… an ounce of hope, humor, tenderness, inspiration, zest for life. Stories have the power to help us transcend difficult, uncertain times through timeless wisdom, the sharing of human emotions, and the building of good character.
In storytelling, there is give and take of wisdom and each of us has the power to do both. There is power in stories, and there is power in us all.