The pillar of storytelling (DW#992)
Nov 16, 2021
The fourth pillar of meaning according to Emily Esfahani Smith is that of storytelling – it is about the story you tell yourself about yourself and your life experiences.
Human beings are natural storytellers. We create stories from our own different life experiences. This is how we make sense of our experiences and the world itself. "Stories help us make sense of the world and our place in it", explains Smith, "and understand why things happen the way they do". And how we came to be who we are today.
Psychologist Dan McAdam has been studying the concept of life stories and meaning for over 30 years. He explains that a person’s "narrative identity", or the story that they create about themselves, is constructed by focusing on the most significant events that have taken place in their life and then interpreting them in numerous ways.
From his research, McAdam found that those who tell redemptive stories about their lives, that is stories that transition from bad to good [how challenges lead to growth] often tend to live more meaningful lives.
In other words, people who find meaning in their lives are those who narrate their stories as that of "heroes" overcoming challenges as opposed to a victim story of being at the mercy of unfavourable circumstances.
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