Human connection matters. It’s at the core of who we are and something we can't afford to lose. The sense of belonging that comes from living and participating in community with others fulfills a human need that can’t be satisfied through any other means. It is our innate communal nature that leads to the cooperation, sharing and compassion that have sustained human beings since the dawn of time. If we permit the erosion of community, we lose the communal values that help stave off a more debased orientation that leads to selfishness and individualism. With this loss of connection comes the loss of empathy and compassion. Despite its importance, research suggests social connection in American society is decreasing at an alarming rate. Average household size is decreasing, and people are becoming more geographically and emotionally disconnected from family and close friends. Consequently, loneliness, isolation, and alienation are rising and represent one of the leading reasons people seek psychological counseling. An important, but frequently overlooked tool for regaining our sense of community is story telling. Human beings have been telling stories since the beginning of time. Long before we were driving cars, playing video games or surfing the internet, people were telling each other stories.
It’s in our blood and DNA. Our stories are a link to the past, a source of knowledge that shapes our life choices. They are influenced dramatically by language and images and are closely tied to our emotions and mental health. Recalling and sharing our stories, remembering and being remembered, can help reaffirm identity, strengthening social connectedness and belonging.