I’m convinced that a creative life helps keep us sane, or at least able to function in this crazy world. Along those lines, I recently read a book by psychotherapist Philippa Perry called How to Stay Sane. Perry contends we are all storytellers, and each of us has an inner story. Some of us (writers and other artists) feel compelled to share those stories.
“We are primed to use stories. Part of our survival as a species depended upon listening to the stories of our tribal elders as they shared parables and passed down their experience and the wisdom of those who went before. As we get older it is our short-term memory that fades rather than our long-term memory. Perhaps we have evolved like this so that we are able to tell the younger generation about the stories and experiences that have formed us which may be important to subsequent generations if they are to thrive.
“I worry, though, about what might happen to our minds if most of the stories we hear are about greed, war and atrocity.”
As writers and artists, do we have a responsibility to lift and improve the world, instead of adding to the chaos and darkness? Yes, we may need to include darkness as part of our stories, but we don’t have to stay there. And that goes for our personal lives as well.
As Perry says, “Be careful which stories you expose yourself to. The meanings you find, and the stories you hear, will have an impact on how optimistic you are: it’s how we evolved. … If you do not know how to draw positive meaning from what happens in life, the neural pathways you need to appreciate good news will never fire up.
Optimism does not mean continual happiness, glazed eyes and a fixed grin. When I talk about the desirability of optimism I do not mean that we should delude ourselves about reality. But practicing optimism does mean focusing more on the positive fall-out of an event than on the negative. … I am not advocating the kind of optimism that means you blow all your savings on a horse running at a hundred to one; I am talking about being optimistic enough to sow some seeds in the hope that some of them will germinate and grow into flowers.”
Here’s to a happier, more creative world for all of us!
About Sammie Justesen
Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.
She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.
A new review of Dialogue for Writers
This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.