Why Stories Matter

In conjunction with my current on-line fundraising campaign, I’m posting here daily on topics related my solo show, Piecework: When We Were French.

On the one hand, the show explores the immigrant experience. But at least as important is the theme of storytelling and how the stories we tell — to others and to ourselves — can give us a sense of identity and a feeling of purpose and connection. I believe this is why people are attracted to genealogy, psychotherapy, and also to blogging and social media. These activities are all about constructing a picture of oneself over time. They can help us to understand where we came from and, hopefully, to envision a meaningful future for ourselves.

It turns out that storytelling, an ancient human activity, actually activates our brains in a way that other types of communication cannot. At a neural level, we experience stories as though we were living them, rather than merely experiencing their retelling. This article does a great job of explaining the phenomenon and its potential significance for your own communication.

Importantly, simple stories make a greater impact than complicated ones. Which is why your stories don’t have to be epic or harrowing or heart-wrenching to be important. As the character who bookends my show, The Housekeeper, would put it, even if it’s not entirely flattering, or not entirely true, as long as it’s got a little bit of pizazz, it’s a story worth telling.

I hope you’re sharing your stories with the people you care about. And I hope you’ll support my efforts to share with a wider audience the stories of Franco-Americans and their ancestors. Please visit my on-line fundraising campaign to learn more.

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