My grandmother was a beautiful storyteller. I still remember how I would sit by her side on the front step and listen to her, enthralled. I never tired of hearing her stories. They were all personal accounts of family events. Just thinking of these stories again now makes my heart melt.
Storytelling has been around since we were, in every culture. It pulls together history and human experience. Children love hearing stories. It develops their listening skills and plays a vital role in cultivating their imagination and memory. It also develops empathy and understanding of other people as they gain new perspectives and a better understanding of life around us. Storytelling is an essential part of life and tradition.
Here is the science bit:
Neuroscience has shown that the brain processes stories differently compared to other types of information. The emotional connection with stories enables the brain to remember meaningful details. The brain activity of someone reading fiction has been shown to closely resemble that of someone going through the actual experience.
Furthermore, scientists are finding that chemicals like cortisol, dopamine and oxytocin are released in the brain when we’re told a story.
- Cortisol helps to make memories.
- Dopamine, which helps regulate our emotional responses, keeps us engaged.
- Oxytocin, aka the love hormone, creates empathy which is key in deepening and maintaining good relationships.
During the festive season, stories come into their own, and none of them were learnt from the internet! The human connection of storytelling is irreplaceable.
I do hope that over the festive period, the opportunity arises for you to listen to and share stories with others. If you are with older people, do ask them to share some stories from their youth. If you are with youngsters, share with them some of their baby stories or some of your childhood stories. It is one of the most precious gifts to both give and receive and is food for the soul.
Wishing you all health, happiness, and a Christmas filled with beautiful stories,