What’s Their Story?
I recently bought a shirt from a pretty cool non-profit called To Write Love on Her Arms. I found the story behind how the organization got started to be poignant, and I wanted to assist somehow. The proceeds go toward helping people who are depressed, addicted, self-harming, and/or suicidal. The shirt has a potent, albeit a little cheesy, message on its front: “Love is Still the Most Powerful Force on the Planet.”
I met up with friends the other night and decided to wear my new purchase. The razzing began almost immediately. It’s not the type of shirt I usually wear, and my friends, as friends are wont to do, made sure I knew that they noticed my “cute” shirt with its “quaint” message.
Once I got the chance, I told them the same story that had touched me and encouraged the purchase. By the end of my retelling, both my buddies were asking for the website so they too could support the organization’s mission.
Such is the Power of a Story
So much of our lives is spent at surface level, ignoring most of the stories around us, save the ones we tell ourselves. But when we take a moment to look a little deeper, to understand a little more, it connects us with others. We feel compassion and build empathy. We change opinions, both others’ and our own. In short, we make the world a better place. Most of us have experienced people we immediately disliked only to find they grew on us over time. We just didn’t know them well enough to understand them yet. We hadn’t heard enough of their story.
My friend and co-owner of SYNC, Michelle, has a neat little trick. When she engages with someone, she tries to take a brief moment to notice the color of their eyes. The recognition of that small detail reminds her she’s speaking with another human being, and behind those eyes is a story. This works with more than just eyes, and can even be used on people you see everyday. Take a moment to find some detail about your mother or your friend or your child you’ve never noticed before. This is a step to better understanding their story, which often extends an invitation to them to better understand yours.
For those interested, here’s a link to the story from which To Write Love on Her Arms grew. Please support this worthwhile organization if you can.