Tuesday, September 19, 2017

why your family needs its stories


What is the story of your family?  How does the story line go?  Have you ever thought of life as a story?

If you were a historian, you could probably go through the year and summarize it in a story.  In fact, you probably already do that once a year if you do a {family letter at Christmastime}.

Did you know that our brains are actually wired for storytelling?  Our brains process facts, sure, but what they really love is STORIES.  Our brains want connections, and stories actually create them.

Rachel Gillette wrote an article for {Fast Company called "Why Our Brains Crave Storytelling in Marketing."}  Here's what she said about the difference between data and story:

"When reading straight data, only the language parts of our brains work to decode the meaning. But when we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well."  (italics added)

Did you catch that?  We're talking about LITERALLY preserving memories!!  


Recording your story allows you to re-live experiences!  And I know from my own experience that if there's any part of the story you don't particularly want to remember, you won't remember it if you don't record it.  When we go on family vacations, I don't take pictures of meltdowns, so when we look back at the pictures and our story later, it's like it never happened!  ;)

And that "you won't remember it if you don't record it" truth is a double-edged sword.  It works out nicely if you don't want to remember the meltdown, but it should make you think twice if you're not recording your family's story and preserving your photos and memories.

Because, truthfully:  it's gone.


So much of what we take pictures of is part of our family story.  We take pictures of special events like first days of school and family vacations, of the new house or the new car.  This is what makes our story.

Rachel Trotter wrote a great article called {Family Vacations Create Great Family Stories} which emphasizes how many fantastic memories and bonding moments come out of vacations.  She lists 5 ways to make your vacations "storyful," from food to music, which you can find at the link.

I've experienced it, too--family vacations are some of the best sources for family stories.  They make some of the best memories!


Two years ago we went to Mexico as a family.  (Yes, the water really IS that color!)  As it turned out, my mom passed away two weeks before our trip.  When I got on the plane, it didn't feel like the time for a fun getaway, but it didn't take me long to realize that it was the perfect time for it.  Aside from the peace of sitting at the turquoise water's edge, we made lots of amazing memories that are part of our family's narrative.  Hilarious things happened.  Miraculous things happened.  Weird and therefore funny things happened.  Really, really cool things happened.  And we STILL talk about it.  We look back on that shared experience with great fondness.

And that's what a family story is:  a shared experience.

And that's why we need them. 

So when you make the memories and take the pictures, don't forget to record the story!  Your family needs its stories.  And the process of telling them--recording photos and memories--is cathartic!

If you need some helps in telling or recording your family stories, here are three:
Every family needs its stories because it needs the connections and the sense of belonging that come from them.  Family stories have a lot of power.  In a world struggling for connections these days, the solution is much closer than we think.
  

12 comments:

  1. I love the line "if you don't record it you won't remember it! This is so true! I love that our minds tell stories... They seem to tell stories as I run. I need to get better at writing them down when I get back home!

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    1. Thanks, Michele. I agree--our minds really are designed to tell stories. Recording them makes them not just available but valuable to the rest of our family, too. :)

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  2. I couldn't agree more! I love having pictures to look back at to remember the good and bad times. I also love family trips so that we have those memories together. Those shared experiences can never be replaced by texts and Facebook.

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    1. Absolutely, Keli! Thanks for the great comment! Texts and Facebook are SO not the same. :)

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  3. So true Jennifer! My mom began to write her life story for the kids, because she was always telling about it. So I said she had to write it down, so we can always go back to it in the future to remember her. I started journaling for that reason too. Just to record what happened from day to day. And I used to scrapbook for my girls. Maybe I have to pick that up again some day... Thanks Jennifer!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you had your mom write down her life story. The ability to have it to go back to in the future is priceless. :) And, yes, journals and scrapbooks do the same thing. They mean so much more than we often give them credit for. Glad you were inspired here. That's my goal!

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  4. I am trying so hard to do better at recording memories. The kids are growing so fast. I take pictures of the good and bad, because one day we can look back and be able to recall how far they have come and changed. I love this post! Great job.

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    1. I love that! You're right--being able to look back, see what you learned from, see how you've/they've grown is a huge reason to be a memory-keeper. It's good for the heart and soul.

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  5. I must be an oddball. I took thirty pictures of my niece having a meltdown in the condo on our last family vacation to Florida. It was just so funny. She threw herself on the floor and was there sobbing at the top of her lungs for a full 20 minutes because she had to take off her frog life jacket to change her clothes before we were going to dinner. That kind of tantrum wasn't nearly as funny when I had toddlers, but it's just hysterical to watch someone else's kid having a fit over something completely irrational.

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  6. My kids are always asking us to tell them stories about when we were little or about their ancestors. It sure helps to weld the generations together when we find we have the same interests or even similar experiences.

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