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Once Upon a Time: Why Stories Matter

Updated: Sep 11, 2019

In 1748, the British politician John Montagu, also known as the 4th Earl of Sandwich, had a dilemma. He loved to play cards, but he also liked to eat. The problem was he needed one hand for the cards, which gave him just one free hand for his food. So, he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to both hold his cards and munch on something at the same time. He delightfully solved his problem, and, while doing so, unknowingly invented what would become one of the most popular foods in the western world: the sandwich.

Now you know how sandwiches were invented, but more importantly, you just read a story—and that’s significant, not because it’s time for lunch, but because it’s a way to illustrate why storytelling is so important.

We didn’t just present the facts; we painted a picture. Maybe you envisioned a man trying to juggle a hand of cards with a plate of food. Did you picture what he was wearing? Did he have a beard? Glasses? How old was he? Who was with him? What was in his sandwich? Stories matter because they trigger something in us that a PowerPoint slide with bullet points doesn’t. They ignite our imaginations.

Science shows that our brains become more active when we tell stories.

If we listen to a PowerPoint presentation with a litany of facts and figures, certain parts in our brains get activated. Scientists call these Broca's area and Wernicke's area, or the language processing parts in the brain. Words get translated into something meaningful, but not much else happens.

When we listen to a story, it’s a whole different, well, story.

Not only are the language processing parts in our brains activated, but so are the areas that we would use if we were actually experiencing the events in the story ourselves. If we’d written about how delicious the sandwiches were that we ate for lunch, your sensory cortex may have lit up. If we’d talked about the mile we ran to get to the sandwich shop — and the obstacle course we had to maneuver on the way — your motor cortex would have activated.

A story can put your whole brain to work.

At HelloJoey, we value stories so much, we include them in all our kits in our app. We make it a high priority to talk to parents of all ages who are dealing with and learning about the issues our hosts discuss, and we let them tell their stories. In fact, we consider it a privilege to feature parent stories. Why? Because they’re important — to the parents telling them and also to you as a listener — not only for the reason above, but for these other three reasons as well:

1. Stories make a point.

We can present research and studies and findings about children’s eating habits, the effects of bullying in school, or whether or not homework is effective all day long, and you’d probably find some (maybe most) of it interesting. However, stories from parents who are raising picky eaters or kids who’ve been bullied or students who’ve been bombarded with homework assignments — and how they’ve handled it all — are likely to resonate more deeply.

This is because, one, they’re relatable, and two, they allow you to see yourself in them —and that’s when you can derive something meaningful. It may be different for every listener, and that’s okay. The point you take from any story is uniquely yours to process and apply in the way you see fit.

2. Stories make facts more memorable.

The content in our app is and always will be science and research-based, which is one of HelloJoey’s most differentiating factors. We’re not here to tell you what to do or dole out advice; we’re here to deliver the insights and information you need to make sound parenting decisions. Along the way, we’ll also include relevant parent stories that will help to make all the information we provide more meaningful and memorable.

When we hear a story, it gives us greater context and understanding of a situation or concept, and that, in turn, makes it stick in our brains. Frankly, we want our content to be sticky so that when you’re in a particular situation and you’re wondering what to do, your brain is able to recall the helpful things you’ve learned from our app.

3. Stories build connection.

Think about a time when you met someone new and you formed a quick friendship or bond. Chances are good that connection was forged because one or both of you shared a story, either about your family, your career, your childhood, traveling, education, hobbies —and the list goes on. All stories can create a bond between the teller and the receiver, especially when a particular story resonates with both people.

We hope that the stories we share help you feel connected not only to us but to the community of parents who are in the trenches with you, trying to figure it all out and do the best they can with the little ones they’ve been given to raise. It takes a village, and we share other parents’ stories so that you can feel connected, even a little, to a group of people who are right there with you, no matter the distance between you. The important thing is knowing you’re not alone.

App Tip

We'd love to hear your stories! You probably knew that was coming, right? But we mean it – we really would. Sharing the highs, lows, and everything in between of your parenting journey can help other parents, plus it might make you feel really good to share, knowing that your experiences can make an impact on others. Have you dealt with a parenting challenge lately? Celebrated a success? Watched your child achieve a milestone? Or learned something new you want to pass on? Let us know.

Drop us note at or leave comments in the HelloJoey app.

And if you haven't downloaded the app yet, now's a great time to grab it! Start your path to a solid parenting foundation in just 10 minutes a day.

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