A great deal of our lifetime revolves around stories. We tell, listen to, write, read, act out and watch them. Sometimes we tell the same stories over and over again (author Christopher Booker argues there are seven basic plots that recur throughout every kind of story).
I often quote futurist Rolf Jensen: “The highest paid person this century will be the storyteller”. If you think about the esteem we give to storytellers – authors, writers, actors, directors – it’s easy to understand why. But there are other reasons why stories are so important to us.
A recent article by Cody C. Delistraty in The Atlantic talked about storytelling from a psychological standpoint. One of the reasons for our penchant for stories is that they give us a sense of control over the world. They allow us to apply a narrative to things that might otherwise have been without one, providing a meaning, applying a pattern or solving a problem. They make things interesting.
Stories also help us connect with our emotions and help us understand and empathize with others. They tap into things we care about – or should care about. This is where the evolutionary importance of stories comes into the picture. If I told you a story about how to survive, you’d be more likely to put that story into practice and actually survive, rather than if I had just given you the facts. That’s a pretty hefty value-add right there.