Why are Life Stories Important?

Excerpt from https://legacyproject.org/activities/lifeint.html

Why are life stories important? Talking about our lives is how we learn more about ourselves, others, the world, and life.

Doing a life interview is a chance to travel through time. In the present moment, the best gift you can give someone is to listen to them. You’ll find out about the past as you hear about real-life experiences. And along the way, you may discover some timeless insights to help guide you through your own future.

We live our lives forward, but we understand them backward. In looking back, we can identify turning points or dynamic events. We can clarify and organize our thinking about life, make sense of events, and enrich the meaning of our life story.

If we make meaning as young adults by fashioning dreams, as older adults we make it by shaping memories. We see how the story of our life has turned out – then change what we can for the future and accept the rest.

Informal (simply reminiscing) or formal (an interview) offers a number of benefits for both young and old:

  • It creates a sense of continuity, linking past, present and future.
  • It enables people to find out interesting things about their family or community, as well as the broader historical past.
  • It’s a way to pass on family stories and traditions, and preserve family history and cultural heritage.
  • It builds self-esteem in those doing the telling and those doing the listening.
  • It helps people develop research, interviewing, & listening skills.
  • It gives people an opportunity to reflect on and assess their life achievements as well as disappointments.
  • It combats isolation & sense of loss and nurtures connections.
  • It helps people resolve conflicts and fears, and gives people a model for facing their own life challenges.
  • It promotes inter-generational interaction and understanding.