Our ability to tell stories may be what enabled us to advance as a species so far ahead of any other form of life.
We are one among many species who communicate and collaborate to survive. But, as far as we can tell, we’re the only ones able to record our experience of the world through stories.
It’s the technology that enables all technology, unlocking our ability to collaborate on a scale unavailable to other forms of life.
It even enables us to collaborate across time and space. Stories told centuries ago continue to resonate and teach us truths about our humanity.
Patrick Moreau is a filmmaker and story educator - and one of the first people to make me realize the importance of studying storytelling as a process. His work with Muse Storytelling is rooted in insights from neuroscience, psychology, and ethnography.
In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Media Psychology, Moreau and colleagues reveal that we don’t only seek stories because they are enjoyable, but also, importantly, because they are moving.
The key insight is this: eudaimonic gratifications (how moving a story is) actually have a higher correlation to the likelihood of a story being shared than hedonic gratifications (how enjoyable a story is).
What does this mean in practice?
Stories that make us reflect on our place in the world, meaning, and our potential, motivate us to share them with others more than stories that are purely entertaining.
I’ve borrowed Moreau’s mantra as one of my north stars when I think about crafting a touching story.
”Guide the heart to move the mind.”