How Stories Shape Our Culture

story book

What stories shape your life?

Take a moment to think about that.

We all live based upon stories. Collective stories are the basis of culture and personal stories are the basis of how we view ourselves as individuals.

Stories are the underpinnings of human reality. Humanity is built upon stories. Stories shape our culture, our lives and the way we perceive the world.

It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false, if a story is believed, it becomes a blueprint of reality.

Cultural Stories

Every culture has stories that act as the very basis for how people live their lives.

In ancient times, mythology shaped the way people viewed reality, the world around them, society and themselves.

Any religious culture is dominated by the stories of that religion. People’s whole lives, down to the finest detail, are dictated by those stories.

Our modern western culture is based on a combination of science, religion and history (his-story). Science is constantly updated, disproving older theories, while failing to explain the “why” questions of our reality. Most organized religions are distortions of spiritual truths for purposes of control. And his-story is merely the story told by the winners of wars.

These cultural belief systems are attempts at explaining truth, at best. And at their worst, they’re attempts at control and manipulation. I’m not saying that all of these are false; I’m saying that regardless of being true or false, these stories shape our experience of reality and every aspect of how we live our lives.

Let’s take the scientific paradigm as an example. According to this story (again, I’m not saying it’s necessarily true or false):

  • We are our bodies, or more specifically our brains.
  • We live on Planet Earth, which revolves around the sun, in an incomprehensibly large universe.
  • This universe started with the Big Bang (the Big Bang THEORY).
  • On Earth, we evolved from apes, growing smarter and more and more sophisticated, until we’ve dominated nature and now live in the wonderful culmination of all of that evolution and “progress.”
  • You see, this is a STORY, or the background program that we run our lives by. And that’s not even getting into the stories of history, money, work, relationships, purpose, pleasure and everything else that makes up our belief systems. These things determine how we perceive and interact with reality.

    Where does this story get us? Well, take a look at the world around you. Check out the “news.” If it seems a little disharmonious (which anyone with eyes can see), we have to start reevaluating the stories we’re living by.

    grand central station

    Your Story

    What stories are you telling yourself? What is your identity based on? What labels do you identify with?

    In the midst of the trend of collective stories, we have the personal stories we tell ourselves. These are our individual stories that shape the way we view and interact with the world.

    Let’s use a man named Henry as an example, whose personal story might look like this:
    I’m Henry.
    I’m a white man.
    I’m an American.
    I’m a Christian.
    I’m not good at math (because my third grade teacher told me that and I’ve believed her ever since).
    I’m good at fixing things (because my dad said I was when I fixed his truck).
    I’m an introvert so I don’t have many friends.
    My favorite color is blue.
    My favorite food is steak.
    I’m a car mechanic, so I’m not good with computers.
    I’m a lower middle class guy.
    I go to work every day, then come home, drink a beer and turn on the tv to relax at night.
    I don’t have time to eat healthy or work out.
    I’m a fan of the Tennessee Titans.
    I wear boots and flannels because I’m manly.

    Ok, you get the point. This is all a STORY. Almost all of those things could be dropped and changed instantaneously. Our friend Henry could literally have a completely new life tomorrow, if he chose to.

    Programming and patterns are incredibly hard to break for us humans. But simple awareness of the stories we tell ourselves puts us in the position to consciously choose what our stories are.

    So what stories are you telling yourself? What identities are you carrying with you day in and day out? What patterns do you have? What are you building momentum towards?

    Gain some awareness of the stories you’re telling yourself. Only then can you choose to change your life for the better.

    individual

    Creating New Stories

    We can create new stories in each moment.

    It is a choice. But you have to first be aware to even know that you have a choice.

    We can tell new tales and shape reality in our own way.

    What do you want out of life? What is your purpose? What’s on your bucket list? Who do you want to be?

    Be open and willing to change.

    Find your vision and start working towards that. Only tell yourself stories which help to create that vision of yourself.

    The Power of Fiction

    The importance of stories is why I love fiction so much. Whether reading or writing, fiction helps to reshape our world.

    Truths which exist beyond the limits of our collective analytical mind are able to be conveyed through fiction, metaphor and myth. Paradigm-shifting truths are often expressed in this way. Just take a look at any sacred text or brilliant piece of poetry.

    Literary works can cut through and transcend cultural biases and blindness, giving the reader a taste of a completely “novel” reality (see what I did there?). It allows one to see outside of the box they’ve existed in their whole life, and presents the opportunity to step outside.

    This is why I read and write a lot of fiction. If we change the stories we tell, we change how our world is shaped.

    Want to get your hands on an example of a paradigm-shifting story?

    You can get a free copy of my new book, Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth.

    It’s on Kindle Scout right now, which is a platform that allows readers to choose what gets published by Amazon. Basically, books that a lot of people nominate and show interest in get published. So I need your help to get Ralphie’s Account of Planet Earth out there. It only takes a minute of your time.

    Here’s what I need you to do:
    1. Go to this link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/WNJWEXEM3HEZ
    2. Click “Nominate me”

    That’s it.

    And if the book gets selected for publishing, you get an early, free copy!

    Let’s reshape our world.

    – Stevie P
     

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    The Power of Fiction

    Ralph Waldo Emerson Fiction quote

    Bold statement: Fiction can be a more effective teacher than nonfiction.

    The epics, the classic myths, the primordial fables, the transcendent archetypes and the phenomenon of story have all been omnipresent undertones of human culture since time immemorial.

    Fiction has the unique ability in which one can use words as arrows of intention to penetrate the infinite dimensions of abstraction. In other words, truths which exist beyond the limits of our collective analytical mind are able to be conveyed through fiction, metaphor and myth.

    The deepest truths are often expressed in this way. Just take a look at any sacred text or brilliant piece of poetry. If they were to be written in a strictly analytical fashion, it would be confined to a sliver of interpreted reality. But with fiction, the words conform to the unique consciousness of the reader. They act as a range of possibility to be decoded subjectively, not a rigid pillar of force-fed predeterminacy.

    Literary works can cut through and transcend cultural biases and blindness, giving the reader a taste of a completely “novel” reality (see what I did there?). It allows one to see outside of the box they’ve existed in their whole life, and presents the opportunity to step outside.

    Along with being a vehicle for consciousness expansion, fiction comes with a whole host of other benefits as well…

    The Benefits of Reading Fiction

  • Improves brain connectivity
  • Increases empathy (and better relationships as a direct result)
  • Reduces stress
  • Enhances memory
  • Increases imagination
  • Expands vocabulary
  • Enhances creativity
  • Increases happiness
  • Enhances focus
  • Helps you be yourself (instead of conforming because the weight of social pressure is released when reading fiction)
  • Helps with approaching and overcoming obstacles (the influence of the hero’s journey)
  • Sources:
    The Surprising Power of Reading Fiction
    7 Benefits Of Reading Literary Fiction You May Not Know

    Stephen King Fiction quote

    How You Can Help Support Fiction

    Speaking of fiction, I recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for my new novel Sozwik. CLICK HERE to view the campaign and provide your support.

    Expand your mind with the wisdom of fiction, embrace the power of story and dare to dream.

    Much love.

    – Stevie P!
     

     

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    Thanksgiving Alchemy: Leveraging the Deception

    thanksgiving_myth

    Digitally blurred reproduction of the painting entitled The First Thanksgiving 1621, by JLG Ferris. (public domain)

    It’s about that time of year again in the “land of the free” (inversion). The holiday season… An interesting potpourri of family time, blind consumerism and people too busy mindlessly carrying on tradition to take a step back and ask “Why?”

    Today is Thanksgiving. I could go into a long, drawn-out argument tearing apart the official story, but that’s not the focus here. The bottom line is that, like always, the story we’re told is a fabricated half-truth. It’s silly to think that an amicable feast between “Pilgrims” and “Indians” even happened and it’s just a wee bit misguided to essentially celebrate the genocide of Native Americans.

    Just be aware of the shadowy manipulation of history and tradition. And remember that you don’t have to give your energy to the deception. But there’s also no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. You don’t have to completely give up on society and live in a tree house in the woods by yourself.

    Here’s what you can do to leverage the deception and still have a good time:

    1. View Thanksgiving as an opportunity to get together with family. You don’t have to participate in any of the rituals. You don’t have to eat what “you’re supposed to” eat. You don’t have to decorate your house like everyone else does. You don’t have to give any of your energy to the deception. But you can use it as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones. Because that’s what’s really important, right? Cherish the moment.

    2. Buy from local sources and companies helping the world. Support local farmers by buying from them. Also, buy holiday gifts from companies who are making a positive impact on the world. Or even make your own gifts. Don’t just be a mindless, conzombie (consumer zombie). Are you financially supporting the problem or the solution? Think about it. Vote with your dollar and help to make the world a better place.

    3. Show gratitude. You don’t have to give thanks for the false story we’ve been sold, but be grateful for the moment. Give thanks for your family. Give thanks for having food. Give thanks for this gift we call life. Take a moment to stop and just be receptive to gratitude. Feel the love. Gratitude and fear can’t coexist. Gratitude is the open door to abundance.

    4. Have fun. Don’t take things too seriously. There’s no need to fret over stupid decorations. There’s no need to worry about getting a turkey when they’re sold out of every store (or farm because hopefully you’re going there). There’s no need to obsess over the lie that’s been force-fed to us. Relax and have a good time. Laugh, smile and be your fun-loving, authentic self.

    “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard

    That’s how to become an alchemist during Thanksgiving and the rest of this holiday season.

    Much love.

    -Stevie P!