Updated: Aug 23
Welcome to this week’s podcast! These are the 5 fundamental reasons that human beings crave stories. These things are built into us. We’re designed for stories because of these things.
So people tend to bash escapism. It gets a bad rap because it is, by definition, the opposite of realism. But what most people don’t understand is that human beings NEED escapism for our emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being.
I once heard a story about a young boy who came from a financially poor background. He wanted to understand what made the difference between the poor background he came from and the “rich” houses on the other side of the tracks. The conclusion he eventually came to is that the rich houses had books. The poor houses in the neighborhood he came from did not.
So, books = success. Books teach us how to succeed.
In terms of financial success, most of the books this boy noticed were probably non-fiction. But that begs the question:
Can fiction teach us to succeed at something? And if so, what?
5 Reasons Human Beings Desperately Need Stories
1. Emotional - consuming stories make us kinder and more compassionate human beings. Recent technology has proven that the empathy centers in the brains of people who read fictions are much stronger than people who don’t.
2. Psychological – we need to see other people triumph, root for them, and live vicariously through their experiences.
We love stories because it helps us experience redemption and hope. We need that to help us return to our own lives and face our own problems. Stories help us do that. They help us escape for a time, feel hope and redemption by being inspired by someone else’s story, and return, refreshed to our own lives.
3. We need to escape our live from time to time. Either because they’re stressful, or boring, or traumatic. Or maybe we love our lives, but we just want to experience something different for a short time. Again, stories are the way we do that. We step into someone else’s life, have an emotional catharsis, and then return to our own.
4. To prepare us for real life situations. Anything we think about or put ourselves into in our minds, we’ll be more likely to handle well if it ever happens in real life. If we think about what we would do if we were attacked, we’re more likely to keep our cool and act smartly if it ever really happens. Again, stories can help us prepare, at least mentally, or possible future situations.
5. They encourage critical thinking, resourcefulness, problem solving, and looking at the big picture. By watching characters work through their problems and figure out how to solve them, we learn, by default, to do that in our own lives.
So can fiction teach us something? Absolutely! It teaches us all these things. For the most part, we don’t learn these things consciously or purposely. They’re things that are simply absorbed when we consume stories.
Anything that teaches us something emotional rather than intellectual is SOUL learning.
So, you want to be a better human being? Go consume some stories today! (I would encourage you to read, but hey, Netflix works too! ;D)