Dr. Paul J. Zak is the founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and a professor of economics, psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University. One of the many neurological focuses of his career has been on storytelling as a natural way to influence the brain and why it’s an important tool for many aspects of life. According to Zak, “stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.” That’s because stories often induce the production of oxytocin, a neurochemical related to trust, fear and anxiety. If a story is able to attract attention, connect the audience to characters and elicit feelings like empathy, empowerment or pity, the oxytocin release may make the audience act a certain way based on these feelings. For example, the sad narrative of how a child broke his leg climbing a tree to save his pet cat might make you donate to help his recovery.
Zak says that storytelling is a powerful tool in business, too. Character-driven stories that relate to the audience on a human level tend to be far more effective than presentations that are solely statistics and strategy. People need to know why they should care. This works to get business, but also within a company. Zak believes that employees work harder when there is a story giving their job purpose and when they can relate to the customer they’re working for.
This method can be applied to really anything in life. If you have a goal, create a motivating story to help yourself along.