Ever since the days of The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest written story known to exist, humanity just can’t get enough. Whether it is about a boy who cries “wolf,” or a dystopian telling of robots taking over the world, we are fascinated by the magic of storytelling. “Why is that?” you might ask. But the answer is simple. Sharing our experiences with the world is how we learn, grow, and adapt. And hearing about the experiences of others can either help us to relate to each other as a community, or provide us with a lesson best learned without having to experience it ourselves (case in point: robots taking over the world).
But how do the questionable life choices of a vampire relate to us? Well, this is where the ‘magical’ part comes in. It is true that humanity chooses to live in large communities. And, compared to most animal species, our children spend a great deal longer with their parents before leaving the nest (whether we like it, or not). But, guess what, despite that, we really seem to hate being told what to do! So, resourceful as we are, we’ve decided to get creative when it comes to teaching lessons to our kids, and, let’s be honest, to ourselves. Cue, storytelling. “Go brush your teeth!” is not as exciting to a stubborn six-year-old who is two chocolate bars away from a new set of cavities as is the tale of the sparkle fairy who lost her teeth from sipping on too much honeysuckle. And watching that vampire spend an eternity paying off his college debt will definitely make us think twice before eyeing that brand-new mind-reading sound system, even if it is on sale.
However, one may wonder: Aren’t those hundreds, if not thousands, of stories we hear in our lifetimes a lot to take in? How will we remember all those valuable life lessons? That’s the thing. Humans are much more capable of retaining information if it is linked to a strong emotional response. So, when we feel the joy of a poor, young boy winning a golden ticket to a chocolate factory, or cry along with a man that just watched some kid who stole his parents’ car crash into his Maserati, those memories stay with us forever. As do the lessons that we have learned along with them.
So, whether you are a parent trying to instill morals and values in your kid, or a brand-new start-up looking to break into the market, storytelling is the way to go. The next time you have something to say, just remember how impactful your message will be if you use an interesting story to get it across. Not only will people instinctively stop to listen, but it may just end up being a part of their memories for the rest of time.