Good artists copy, great artists steal.
- Pablo Picasso
To help us lead better lives.
Storytelling is among the oldest forms of communication. Storytelling is the commonality of all human beings, in all places, in all times.
- Rives Collins, The Power of Story: Teaching Through Storytelling
Storytelling is the best way of getting ideas across.
I want to share other people’s stories to help you notice what you have already seen and to remind you of your own precious insights, like curiosity, failure, and creativity.
Returning to our childlike curiosity is key to leading a better life. It provides hunger for education, that is fed by interesting things. While we often lose general curiosity as we age, we remain curious about other people’s stories, whether through tabloid gossip or autobiographies. We’re hardwired for stories.
Stories can provide a near-death experience for the rest of us. In Steve Jobs wise words;
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
We need to be reminded of our shared fate, and use that information to inform our decision making process.
In the context of death, we should reassess our decisions and make changes. We need to face the truer, more important questions in life, and adapt our philosophies based on them. Stories of how people re-sensitised themselves to the truths of this world and made changes, will give us the courage to make on our deeper thoughts.
We are constantly shown either extreme success stories, or complete and total failures. Yet we must be reminded that failures are key to development. To lead a better life, we must be willing, and ready to embrace impending failure. Many miniature failures lead to successful developments. We must remember that an experiment is a controlled, and observed failure. Stories can remind us of this.
The faster and more often we fail, the faster and more often we learn.
To return to our childlike state of continual failures, we must learn to be vulnerable. As an adult to be vulnerable, is to be open to uncertainty and risk, while having emotional exposure. We have become sick and tired of being afraid. Stories capture what we all experience, and lets us remember that we’re not alone.
The ability to empathise with characters is deeply ingrained in us all, so by simply telling other people’s stories we increase that skill. Stories and empathy are inseparable. What’s more difficult, is letting empathy lead us to giving people we don’t know, the benefit of the doubt. We have to remember that everyone we pass on the street has a story every bit as complicated as our own.
Having good, positive relationships with people is key to a good life. Knowing who your friends are, and when to end relationships is vitally important. Friends you can be vulnerable around, and those that can empathise with you, give you the space to talk, and experiment with your ideas. Often hearing things out loud can give you the courage to act. Stories of how relationships can lead to better lives can provide grounding when deciding who your friends are.
Other people constantly seek to define for us what is beautiful, and what is not. Adverts explain the beauty of a New Zealand landscape shunning the architecture and design of the city you’re in right now. Attractive, and beautiful men and women, don our high streets, TVs and magazines, re-framing our definitions of what it means for someone to be beautiful. We all know deep down this isn’t for our benefit, rather the benefit of the companies’ bank balances. Stories can go someway to re-sensitising ourselves to what we’ve already seen and discarded, and to remind us of what we already know.
Thinking creatively is in my mind the highest form of thinking a human can achieve. It is key to finding solutions, and working out problems.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, creativity is; ‘the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness’.
According to Steve; “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while”
I think it’s harder to define than that, I think it is a combination of; curiosity, knowing we’re going to die soon, change, failure, vulnerability, empathy, relationships, nature and beauty.
While stories about creativity can help us lead better, more creative lives, they also remind us about the person who made the story itself. By sharing stories, and the process of making those stories, I hope to make your lives a little bit more creative.
Proper appreciation of these stories must include an awareness of when to stop looking at them, and to then pursue their true purpose, to help you lead a better life.
What stories have affected your life?
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