What Stories Are Most Important To You?

Throughout our lives, we are constantly surround by stories of one kind or another. Which ones matter most to you?

Stories come in many different kinds. Some are personal, some are entertainment, and some are societal.

For example of a personal story, we have the those we tell ourselves about ourselves. You might, for example, tell everyone, including yourself, that you are always on time. As a result, you become known as the punctual one of your group. Or you always have the latest gadget, or maybe the cleanest house.

Whatever you tell yourself (and carry through on) you can manifest and make real. You define yourself through the stories you tell about yourself.

We also have access to more entertainment options than ever before. From movies to TV shows, from video games to novels, from sports to social media, we have a never-ending stream of tales told by all kinds of people. They might shock you, make you laugh, tug at your heartstrings, or open your eyes to other points of view.

Finally, we come to societal stories. These are things we tell each other that help us function in tandem. We cooperate because we hear a story and believe it.

For example, why do you pay your taxes? Perhaps you believe the story that our pooled resources makes our community stronger and benefits everyone. Or maybe you just believe the story that you will face a penalty if you don’t.

There are many stories, in all aspects of your life. Which ones mean the most to you? Are there some you never question? Might there be a benefit, or a penalty, to doing so?

Related questions: What are the benefits of fiction? Where do shared ideas exist? What makes a community? What makes you you?

1 thought on “What Stories Are Most Important To You?”

  1. I am nearing 30 years as an advocate for housing justice. A story I believe and tell myself frequently is that we can end homelessness, which is primarily the byproduct of not having enough affordable housing.

    In the late 1970s, enough housing was affordable and available for extremely low-income households. Homelessness, while it existed, was a significantly smaller problem than it is now. Then, in 1980, the federal government dramatically cut its investment in affordable housing: a reduction from $81 billion to $18 billion. Then, in 1987, the government put a paltry billion dollars into emergency shelter development to address the homelessness problem it created.

    This story could disempower me, but it doesn’t. Why? Because voters could demand that the federal government re-engage in the development and subsidization of affordable housing. We know more now about how to help people trapped in homelessness simply because they cannot afford what is available: build more housing to reduce competition for what is now a scarce resource and put more money into subsidies for low-income households. And for those who face other challenges in maintaining housing (e.g., those who struggle with mental illness or substance abuse disorders), we know how to provide them with the support that will allow them to manage and often thrive in their living situation. Lastly, we know that ending homelessness is cheaper than tolerating it. Several communities across the country have focused and been successful in ending veteran homelessness, spending about the same as a homelessness response but getting better results through investment in supportive housing targeted at veterans’ needs.

    I sincerely believe in the story that more advocates now tell themselves: we can end homelessness.

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