Tell a Story, Change the World

change inspire storytelling

Perception Creates Reality

Big changes are hard, not because they involve a lot of adjustment, but because they do not conform to the way we currently see reality (if they did, they wouldn't be changes). We base a lot of assumptions on what we accept as true. Everything from our sense of possibility to our opinions on right and wrong and self-worth are built on how we see the world.

So, when we try to change something, we often forget that we're trying to change a lot more than just the outward signs of that change. We are messing with our perception of reality, and anyone who's studied psychology knows that the result of pushing reality too far from our beliefs is cognitive dissonance, which is a fancy way of saying it get pretty freaky.

We might make some progress, but if our perception never changes, we eventually return to how things were before.

We have tried to change only our externals, but not the mindset that makes it possible.

In my experience, the biggest obstacle in affecting positive change is that people don't believe it is possible, with the same strength of conviction that they believe an apple falls to the ground when they drop it. This belief is expressed in many ways. Some will just say, "That's impossible." However, many will act threatened or insecure. Failing to see in full color the alternative reality, they react in the way we always respond to unfamiliar things: with fear. And anyone who's seen Star Wars knows that fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to suffering, the path to the dark side.

Which ultimately means no positive change.

However, there is another way.

Paint the Picture You Want to Live

You could purposefully try to cultivate a very detailed vision of the reality you want to create. Make it familiar, flesh it out. Get it to be so compelling and so real that you are no longer afraid of it because it has become so familiar. Roll it over in your head all the time.

This applies to social change as well.

Why is it so hard to create a world free of corporate corruption, for example? My theory is because people don't understand what that would look like, and even if it's theoretically a good thing, people are afraid of things they don't understand.

Show people what a world without corporate corruption looks like. Make the vision as real and detailed as possible. When people can't help but imagine how great it is, and aren't afraid of the unknown, then it won't take much to start change. That's what great marketing companies do, after all; they show us a (better) reality, make it familiar and compelling, and then watch us do the legwork of seeking out and buying their product.

Obviously, selling a better vision of the World and Society requires a very elaborate, community-driven vision board. The smaller the change you want to drive, the smaller the vision you need to create.

But, I think that is why story has so much power to motivate people. A good book or some well-crafted words paint a picture of a world that people can understand on an emotional level. That is why in trying to inspire people to change themselves and their world for the better, I rely on story. Bring people's minds to a better place, and the body, then the community, will follow.

To learn more about one part of my story--the part about getting stronger--and hopefully be inspired, check out my recently published book, The Warrior Spirit Principles of Holistic Health, which you can download for free.

(Photo credit: ministryofstories on Flickr)