Stories are the ways we teach others how to grasp complex lessons. For example, we teach kids the concept of patience and long-term success through Santa Claus - be good and you will be rewarded later. We remember and connect to stories better than facts. It’s why Jesus used parables and why Human of New York is so successful.
For me, stories are a method of self-taught learning. One of my favorite books is the memoir of Amanda Lindhout, called a House in the Sky. At the age of 19, Amanda left her home in Calgary to backpack the world, eventually carving out a career as a television reporter in the Middle East. On her fourth day in Somalia, she was captured and held hostage for over a year. The most extraordinary part of her story was that despite everything that happened to her, from sexual abuse to changing her religion as a survival technique, Amanda was still able to find comfort and compassion. She used multiple mental strategies, which included constructing an imaginary safe “house in the sky” and vividly remembering happy memories from her past. Her story taught me a lot about mental strength, finding an inner peace that is untouchable by the outside and being empathetic even when the situation suggests the opposite.
Stories are filled with wisdom, and we gain that knowledge if we listen well enough. This is why the Human Book Collection here at McMaster strives to create spaces and experiences on campus where people can really connect. Take a look at the rest of our website and check out our Facebook Page for more information and inspiration. And make sure to check out our upcoming Human Book Event - how to be a human book, and how to attend!