OK, you’re ready to change your media habits and begin to consciously choose stories that nourish your mind, heart, and spirit, but what do they look like and where can they be found? If you’ve been filling up on junk stories for a while, it might be difficult to identify healthy stories.
Let’s go back to the food analogy. A person might reason – vegetables are healthy, potatoes are vegetables, therefore French fries are healthy…right? Of course not. Don’t just look at story styles or media delivery, look for stories that deliver insight, information, and inspiration. Look for balance and honesty. Healthy stories can also playful and fun. Remember watermelon, strawberries, salmon, garden ripened tomatoes, and dark chocolate are all delicious and healthy.
Let’s look at a few places you can find healthy, fun, and challenging stories.
Comic Books, Super Heroes, & Graphic Novels– I thought I’d start the list with a fun source of stories that are often dismissed. Modern comic book super hero stories are today’s myths and fairytales. Folklore provides a non-threatening format to explore and understand challenges of the human condition. All of the most frightening and confusing issues we face today are explored by DC, Marvel, and Independent comic companies. Superman was a response to Hitler’s concept of ‘Supermen’, Batman & Jessica Jones are characters shaped by trauma who fight against their inner demons and PTSD, and Spiderman dealt with adolescent challenges. Not all comics are great, but it’s a great area to explore modern folklore. Take a few minutes after reading a graphic novel or seeing a superhero TV show or movie to think about it and find the issues hidden in the story.
Classic & Original Sci-Fi & Fantasy – This category might also surprise you. Society is changing at supersonic speed and philosophical science fiction offers a platform to explore and question how humanity will cope with these changes. Joseph Campbell helped George Lucas infuse the hero’s journey into Star Wars and it’s had a resounding effect on generations. Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman, Issac Asimov, Mary Shelly, and Ray Bradbury are all fantastic writers who choose sci-fi/fantasy as their genre of choice. NOTE-there’s a lot of junk sci-fi/fantasy too, so look for stories that offer you new perspectives. (There’s a new website offering authors an easy way to show their stories. Futurism.media.com I just posted one of my sci-fi short stories-check it out. https://futurism.media/authors/rivka-willick )
That Book or Movie on Your List Recommended by Friend – We all have lists of books, movies, live shows, stories, blogs, etc. that friends have suggested and we intend to one day do it, but we haven’t yet. Stuff on this list may be a little challenging but it’s usually pretty good once we open the cover or go to the show. Junk usually doesn’t stay on the list-if it’s easy we do it first. Go back to the recommended list and pick out a few nourishing stories this week.
You Know it’s Good but it Takes a Little Effort – Ken Burns documentaries fall into this category for me, I enjoy them but I have to stay focused and think. Historic stories, documentaries, or stories from other cultures fit in this category. Consider this the vegetables on your healthy story menu – pick the ones you like but make sure a few are consumed on a regular basis.
Classics – Stories (in all media forms) that last for generations prove themselves as great by their longevity. Language and technological advancements may cause many classics to be a bit of a challenge, but the wisdom and mastery in these tales are worth the effort you put into them. Try to hear, see, or read a classic every now and then. I try to take on a classic novel every couple months. Classic short stories and movies I tend to enjoy in batches.
Both Sides of a Story – It’s human nature to seek out the stories that support your point of view, but that’s like eating carbs and skipping the protein. This balanced approach applies to all disciplines, not just politics.
Learn to Listen to Stories Live storytelling is an essential ingredient to any healthy mind-heart-spirit story diet. When a story is told live, the listener becomes an interactive part of the telling. Encourage family members, friends, and co-workers to share stories. Seek out professional storytelling performances for adults (or hire a teller for your events). Attend book lectures, plays, and comedy shows. Support live performances, you will thrive.
Please help me add to this list of healthy stories.
There’s just one more article in this series-Recipes for a Whole Story Lifestyle.