The Brain and the Power of Story

Imagine that you invented a device that can record my memories, my dreams, my ideas, and transmit them to your brain. That would be a game-changing technology, right? But in fact, we already possess this device, and it’s called human communication system and effective storytelling. To understand how this device works, we have to look into our brains. 

 

This awesome TED Talk by Uri Hasson illustrates the power of “neural-entrainment” a process of creating synchronicity between brainwaves among groups of people, by simply telling a story.

Hasson shows how story telling creates shared feeling and shared thought  in much the same way that metronomes will syncronise their rhythms when sharing a vibrating base.

Such synchronicity is powerful and dangerous as it illustrates how bias can easily be transmitted among groups. However, the onus is on us to consider what stories we absorb, and what stories we share. We should continue to share stories and ideas freely, since together we are more powerful than we are alone.

You can see the original TED Talk here.

The Soul of Relationship

One regularly hears the epithet that ‘communication is key’ to relationships.  If you can truly listen, hear each others perspective, express your views – you can evade a multitude of woes. Learn each others love language, learn each others Myer-Briggs personality profile, understand each others’ family of origin narrative and so on.

I recently complimented a 5 year old girl on her beautiful hair and dress, calling her a princess. Her aunt promptly added, ‘and we love you for your brains and personality darling.’ Yes – I was a child who hated that adults cou-cou’d children, clucking to them and calling them cute! Especially as a girl, it becomes frustrating to not be asked about ambitions and thoughts. How have I slipped into being that adult?

If stories express a voice, the perspective of characters, then they contribute to our human conversation.  The more we read stories, the more communication we receive, the more we are forced to hear the perspective of others and to empathise and understand.

However, the more stories we read from the same kind of people – the more we hear one voice. Do we find ourselves sliding into stereotypes and views of gender, race, social class, political view, religion? Stories need a multitude of voices from a multitude of people and persepctives to contribute to our conversation.

To flourish as humans, our happiness stems from good communication, and for this to occur we need to hear and listen to good stories.