Pursuing meaningful goals: A key ingredient in life and in stories

Humans are built for story. When we push ourselves towards a tough yet meaningful goal. Our rewards systems spike not when we achieve what we’re after but when we’re in pursuit of it.

Will Storr

Pursuing meaningful goals not only makes for a good story but helps us practice happiness.

In The Science of Storytelling, Why Stories Make Us Human and How To Tell Them Better, Will Storr shared how stories shape who we are and what we do. Throughout the book, he offers insights not only about protagonists in stories but for us in life.

Protagonists in stories and humans in life derive satisfaction when pursuing meaningful goals. It’s the pursuit, not attainment that matters. Again, happiness is a practice rather than an end goal.

Likewise, in a story, “the job of the plot is to plot against the protagonist… The characters wrestle with its ramifications and [are] offered the opportunity to change… The testing events keep coming and coming just as they do in life.”

And, therefore, it can be helpful, not just to storytellers but for us to consider his five-act sacred flaw approach to storytelling:

  • Act 1: This is me and it’s not working
  • Act II: Is there another way?
  • Act III: There is. I have transformed.
  • Act IV: But can I handle the pain of change?
  • Act V: Who am I going to be?

What I also find helpful is that this book reminds us that we are all flawed and not being perfect can be sacred.

Knitting notes

I am knitting gifts for the wonderful people who help my parents. I started a thick and soft hat that will hopefully have columns that look like stacked hearts.

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