Sharing Stories Saves Lives

Oct 4, 2017

Well hello again, and a happy October to you all!

Just a few short weeks ago I was boarding the one of four flights that would add up to a record breaking (at least for me) 32 hours of transit, en route to Australia to offer the International Keynote for one of the largest safety conferences in the country – Safety in Action. Yeah for me!  

About halfway through the journey I began to think of the distance people will go to rally for a cause they are truly passionate about. I thought about all of the people in the world hopping on one plane and off another. The people you enjoy a glass of something or other with while you wait for the next flight after yet another missed connection. So often these days we stick to the facts, the requirements of what it is we have to do, and what it is we should do. We greet our seat mate after praying that we won’t get one (be honest – you do it), sightlessly determine who gets the arm rest, perhaps recommend a film or enquire as to whether or not the departure city is where they are from, but most often – that is where we leave it.

There are so many summer activities to enjoy! Of course, I must remind you to stay safe and plan carefully when taking trips or venturing to unknown places on your own. Safety is not something you can simply turn on or off depending on your activity, whether work or play. Be smart and safe while you explore the world around you this summer!

I get it, I don’t want to be engaged, emotional and thrust to action on every flight I’m on – however I’ve become acutely aware that everyone who is along for the ride has a story to tell – that may not be the purpose of their voyage – to share a story – but often times in some way or another… it is. 

Why? Why do people travel for miles and days to tell a story? Why do people travel for miles and days to hear one? I fired up the google machine and did a little research. You know I am all about the “good vibes” – but sometimes society demands facts, they want proof. Science.

Essentially, what it boils down to is that sharing stories changes lives. Sharing stories can even SAVE lives. Truth.

Maybe this isn’t a shocking or new piece of information to you. In all honestly, I vaguely recall something about the hypothalamus and the things it could do from my undergrad (psychology major), so I should have honed in on this connection ages ago… I digress.

You see our brain produces this thing call oxytocin – in the past is was referred to as the “love hormone” but has since been dubbed the “moral molecule”. Yes, look it up!

Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted, when we share a personal story with one person or a group of people we are telling them that we trust them.

I began to think of the distance people will go to rally for a cause

Oxytocin is the neurochemical responsible for empathy and what we know is that it makes us more sensitive to social cues, and social cues are what motivate us to engage and help others, particularly if help is needed.

Empathy does not stop affecting us just yet! Nope – it also allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation, including people we work with! 

You can imagine how delightful this information must be to the gal who globe-trots with a suitcase full of spare legs, often removing them during speeches while revving up audiences to “SEE SOMETHING… and SAY SOMETHING”!!!!  

What this means is that if I’ve done my job well – meaning transported my audience through my story – the result is that we create a whole room of people who are feeling empathy, releasing oxytocin and are SCIENTIFICALLY motivated and engaged in being more aware of their co-worker and whether or not they may need guidance, help, or even a hug. We’ve got people who have a more acute understanding of how to go about “saying something” after what they’ve seen as they are now naturally more able to understand the reaction they will receive… 

What we’ve got here folks, are people who are building up with the courage to care – to do one thing, or say one thing, that might change a life, or even save one.



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