Whether shared orally, visually in the form of a picture or movie, or printed in a book, stories have the power to impact our lives. Storytelling is the earliest art form and has been an important part of mankind's history for thousands of years. For me, competing in storytelling when I was in high school allowed a shy, unnoticed student to flourish and find her voice.
"All Storytellers Day" (Alla Berratares Dag) started in Sweden in 1991 and grew to become a day that would draw people all over the world together to listen to stories. Celebrated on March 20 each year, people will gather in large and small groups to share stories and celebrate the oldest art form. Families can make it a day to tell real stories or makeup silly ones just to amuse one another.
Good stories connect people to each other by building familiarity and trust. Every generation has used stories to share their common history and teach younger generations. When we see or hear someone's story that creates an empathetic connection, we have a change in our brain caused by the release of neurochemicals.
According to a study by Paul J. Zak, Ph.D. and director of the Center for Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, when people make an emotional connection to someone's story, oxytocin and cortisol are released in the brain. Those two chemicals were found in blood tests after people listened to a story about a father and his response to his young, dying son. The study explained in part why we respond so emotionally to stories and was also predictive of whether someone would be motivated to donate to a cause after hearing a touching story.
Some people might say they are not good at telling stories, but believe it or not, we are all good at telling stories. Maybe not to perform on a stage but everyone can tell a story to accomplish what we want or need to say. In fact, 65% of our conversations are made up of stories. When we tell someone a story or listen to theirs a bond is forged.
Whether you take time on All Storytellers Day or some other day, ask your children or friends to either make up a short story to share or to tell a story about something they have experienced or learned. This promotes active listening and also reminds us that each person has a story to tell, and their story is worth hearing. Read a story or book out loud and then take time to talk about how your family felt while hearing it.
Storytelling is a wonderful way to connect all generations of a family, if you would like to learn more ways to promote closeness with your family and friends, contact Alison Crane at 501-623-6841 or email [email protected].