Documenting Your Story, Ancestry, Family History, Storytelling

5 Reasons To Tell Your Life Story

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To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen 

We’re fascinated by stories. Think about it. We spend hours watching movies, reading books, listening to music and podcasts. It’s human nature to gravitate towards stories.

There’s actually a science behind it. When we are being told a story, not only are the language processing parts in our brains activated, but any other area of the brain that would be used when experiencing the events of the story are too. For example, if someone tells a story about a delicious treat, our sensory cortex lights up. A good story can put your whole brain to work.

Science aside, our stories hold power. Storytelling transcends our past and gives a glimpse to the future. Stories are how we think and how we make meaning of our lives. Your life story can heal you and your story can heal someone else.

Below are 5 reasons to tell your life story:

1. Other people can benefit from your wisdom.

Telling your story can inspire and teach others. You might not think your stories overflow with wisdom, but they allow your audience to feel something that they haven’t felt themselves – whether it’s pain, joy, heartbreak, or love. Your experiences can teach something that young people especially can benefit from. You might be just the role model they’ve been searching for.  We’re all humans. The stories that you tell will echo onto others - as we all live, love, hate, and die. 

2. Your stories are important to your family.

The experiences and stories from your childhood, of meeting your future wife, Sunday dinners with your grandparents, all provide context to your family. Your descendants will appreciate and cherish your life stories for generations to come. Simply sharing with your children and grandchildren the family they were born into can be exactly the reassurance they need. The older they get, the more curious they will be about who you were and what situations shaped you. Your stories are a glimpse of a life they'll never experience and the memories you leave behind will be cherished and spread by your loved ones. Your family will thank you for documenting your stories.

3. Build self-awareness.

Storytelling is a way to reflect on who you used to be and the journey to where you are now. By building your self-awareness, you’re able to understand people better, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment. Reflecting on your past self helps you celebrate your milestones and learn from your mistakes. Your narrative identity is the story of your life – but it’s more than just stories. How you understand your narrative frames your current actions and future goals. As Dan McAdams, Northwestern University psychology professor, explains:

The stories we tell ourselves about our lives don’t just shape our personalities - they are our personalities.

4. Relate to one another.

Sharing stories brings people together. When you hear a good story, you develop empathy with the storyteller and the situation. Think about it. Your friend tells you a story about her family from her childhood and you suddenly have a significantly better understanding of her and in return your relationship is strengthened. Sharing life stories allows the teller and listeners to find commonalities. Stories give context to the person’s life and connect us to something greater than ourselves. Humans are social beings and meaning is found in community.

5. It’s fun!

Writing your life story can be complex, involving narrative flow, character development, and dialogue. Or it can be surprisingly easy and fun. If you’re a natural storyteller and writing is a hobby of yours, writing a memoir or autobiography can be very fulfilling. However, you can still reap all the benefits of storytelling without over complicating your story. When was the last time you reminisced on your youth? This nostalgia is good for us in more ways than one, research shows. An ancient memory of rainbow snow cone juice running down your sticky chin might be the forgotten memory that will put a smile on your face.

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GET STARTED

If storytelling has all these benefits, why isn't everyone doing it? Staring at a blank piece of paper or screen when you have a lifetime of memories inside of your head may seem like a daunting task. To help get you started on sharing your life stories, we’ve developed an easy and fun (and free!) guide. The process was modeled after life writing workshops, and is led by a professional writing instructor who coaches you every step of the way through short videos. 

Start Writing Today!

No one has lived or seen the exact same things than you, in the same place and moment. Do you understand how special that is? Take the time and tell your stories. You’ll feel good and you just might touch others, too.


 

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About TSOLife

TSOLife focuses on creating innovative ways to preserve legacy and pass down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, Storytelling

2016 in Retrospect

 

Brexit. Trump. The Olympics. These are the topics that dominated our conversations and social medias in 2016. Some of these stories have come to a close, while many are just beginning. Whether positive or negative, these events will shape our future generations.

2016 was a year against all odds, making the seemingly impossible happen. To put it into perspective, lets take a look at the probability of a few headlining events last year:

Leicester City winning the English Premier League: 5000 to 1

Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election: 25 to 1 when first announced

The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series: 30 to 1 at opening pre season

Brexit odds of leaving: 9 to 2 at peak

Last year the unimaginable occurred, and for many, that meant that 2016 was a year of new beginnings. In CNN's article, "Dear World, I wasn't all that bad. Signed, 2016," the significant strides the world has made in 2016 are monumental and noteworthy. The high school graduation rate is at its highest at 82.3%, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest in ten years. Your story of getting a new job after the historical economic recession is one of triumph and a story that not only your family members would love to hear but many in similar situations would be interested in listening to.

Our children will want to hear our perspective on the 2016 election. Future generations will wonder about where we were when we heard about the Orlando shootings. Our grandchildren will ask again and again to hear the story of when we were all gathered around the television, watching the final run that broke the curse as the Cubs won the World Series. Headlines that announced Fidel Castro's death are far more than newspaper stories to the Cuban immigrants who fled to the States in recent years. It is events like these that will dominate conversations at the family dinner table when we are visiting our grandchildren over the holidays.

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It's the little moments in life that they'll be curious about. Remember the summer trip to Europe you took with the family? How will you tell the story of the first time you saw the icons of Italy you've only read about or the breathtaking landscapes that dominated your travel books? Did you fall in love? Did you stand by your childhood best friend as she married her college sweetheart? Did you become an aunt or an uncle? Where were you when you heard the news that your oldest child was pregnant, making you a grandparent for the first time? What was it like when you watched your youngest walk across the graduation stage?

There is no denying that 2016 was a monumental year. But wasn't 2015? And 2000? And 1950? Finding out that your grandparents were influential leaders in JFK's presidential campaign in 1960 is story that will inspire you and help you better understand who your loved ones were in their youth. What was their stance on the Vietnam War?

In a few decades, 2016 will be looked back at with the same interest as the JFK presidency and the Vietnam War. There is a parallel to the events of 2016 and the historical events that occurred over 50 years ago. They are not only the events that dominate news headings but are also instrumental in our everyday lives, shaping us to be political activists or causing a close family member's life to drastically change. It is important to preserve these stories now while they're fresh in our minds, writing tomorrow's history today, because one day, future generations will ask what it was like to live in a year against all odds.

“It is important to preserve these stories now while they're fresh in our minds, writing tomorrow's history today, because one day, future generations will ask what it was like to live in a year against all odds.”

As the first month of 2017 comes to an end, we can only be optimistic about the future. Many will look back on 2016 negatively, but it is important to note the positive. Both the small moments and the historic events mold us individually and will shape our future generations.

ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLbackground

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Storytelling

Ancestry and Genealogy Research Resources

Unlimited genealogy research resources exist in the world. Fortunately, many of these resources are now available online. These days anyone can take an interest in genealogy without having to spend hours digging through libraries and archives and paying for photocopies. Online resources have changed the genealogy research world; however, navigating all the online resources can be an adventure.

“How do I know where to start?”

“What websites have the information I am looking for?”

The research process involves experimenting with different resources. Not one website works for absolutely everyone, because the sites pull from varying databases and collections. The documents these resources offer add value to your life story and your family history. As mentioned in our previous blog post, these documents add a sense of legitimacy to your life story. Here are some popular places to start your ancestry research and find these supplementary documents:

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is free for anyone to use. It is one of the biggest genealogy websites in the world with billions of online resources and additional physical locations with volunteers to help you in your family history research. FamilySearch connects you to other online genealogy searches increasing the amount of information available to you.

Ancestry

Ancestry.com works like a search engine by digging through databases and collections to find documents. This method has allowed Ancestry to collect billions of records from census reports to images to articles to the most extensive collection of immigration records. These documents can allow you to map your family history throughout the years. Ancestry.com is a subscription service and can cost more than its competitors. Ancestry’s extensive databases and additional services, for some people, may make it worth the price.

MyHeritage

MyHeritage is a fantastic genealogy search engine allowing you to search through billions of documents from around the world. The site serves as a community that allows you to connect with genealogists and better understand your family history. MyHeritage emphasizes that family history is for the family. They offer ways to get everyone involved with genealogy by providing games for kids and an easy-to-share family tree. Unfortunately, MyHeritage does not have Native American resources available. The site is easy to navigate and offers great features, such as DNA testing, a family tree builder, and a custom chart designer. My Heritage is known as a reliable resource and an enjoyable experience for the whole family.

FindMyPast

FindMyPast is not as feature-rich as other sites, but it still serves as a valuable search engine with access to 1.6 billion records from English-speaking countries around the world. The site does offer an easy-to-use family tree builder. FindMypast does not offer much support besides research articles and the FAQ section.

Archives

Archives has access to 4.6 billion records of varying types, including immigration documents, yearbooks, adoption records, and newspapers dating back to the 1700s. Archives is a great resource for rare and interesting citations and records on your U.S. or U.K. roots. If you have roots in the U.S. from 1790 to 1930, you can find U.S. Census records for your family. However, if you have family outside of these countries, you will not be able to find data about them.

GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank is a search engine for finding newspaper articles focused in the United States dating back to the 1690s. You can find records such as obituaries, marriages, community events and arrests in newspapers, making them useful in learning about your ancestors and the environment they lived in. GenealogyBank also collects local histories, funeral sermons, biographies, directories and other books allowing you to find more than just the usual standard birth, marriage, or death certificate.

The Genealogical Research Library

The Genealogical Research Library has a more global focus compared to other sites. The database is organized by geographic location, so it is easy to begin researching the places important in your family’s history. It does not have extra features like many of the other sites offer. However, it does offer some unique resources such as antique maps, historical books, and a collection of family trees. It is not a comprehensive site, but it is a great starting place to begin your research.

DNA Testing Options

Many companies offer DNA testing services so that you can truly find your roots! Ancestry.com offers DNA testing for $99. You do not have to have an Ancestry subscription to purchase the DNA kit. MyHeritage is now offering DNA testing for $79. 23andMe offers two packages for their DNA testing services, one priced at $99 and the other priced at $199.

Honest Products Review provides a review of the 5 best DNA kits here. Take a look if you're exploring these options.

 

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Source: 23andMe

 

There is an overwhelming amount of information on the internet. These databases are a great place to start. It can be difficult to know which services will be of the most value to you. Researching your family history will take some time, but the knowledge gained will be immensely rewarding.

Check out how these sites rank on TopTenReviews.

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Ancestry, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Storytelling, Family History, Preserving Memories

How Do I Make My Life Story Stand Out?

You spent hours. Many of these hours were spent wadding up papers or exercising the backspace on your keyboard. Despite these setbacks, the duration of these hours have led you to where you are now. You sit there staring at your creation. Your life story lies before you, in whichever form it may take. You exhale, and in the process, relax the furrowed lines of your forehead developed while deciding what events and memories were worthy of inclusion in this narrative. You inhale, empowered and exhilarated because of what you have just accomplished. It is not finished, of course. What life story ever is? But, you have found that stopping point where you can stop writing and move on to the next step, which is what exactly?

You wrote your life story. Now it is time for someone to read it. This reader may be a family member or someone you have never met. That decision is up to you.  It is one thing to write a story, but making a story interesting and engaging is a whole other ball game. How do you interest people in reading it? You may have heard the adage, “Build it and they will come.” As many of us learn in life, this saying does not always represent the truth. When it comes to writing and sharing your life story, more effort is involved than that of “Write it and they will come.” As a writer, you are tasked with keeping the reader interested while still staying true to yourself. So how, as a writer, do you make your life story stand out? Fortunately, there are many ways to create a dynamic and interesting life story without using excessively flowery writing or including exaggerated details.

THE NEXT STEP

Welcome to Step 2 of the writing process! It is time to add photos, audio files, videos, supporting documents, and a new perspective to bring your life story to a whole new level.

PHOTOS

Photos are a sure way to bring some excitement to your life story. Photos are useful in engaging those with short attention spans who are turned away by lengthy blocks of text. They are memorable and interactive.  People say a picture is worth a thousand words, however photos are even more powerful when combined with text than when they stand alone. When adding photos, it is important to document who was there and what their names are. Do not force future generations into playing the “Guess who is in this photo?” game, because you did not write a caption or label the photo. You can describe how happy you were on your wedding day. However, for a reader to feel that they were there, they need to see it. Add a photo to your story from your wedding day, so that they can see for themselves the contentment and excitement in your smile.

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AUDIO

Record yourself telling your story, and add the audio files to your story. We understand how much value the spoken word holds. When recording your audio, tell the story. Do not just read the script. Let those reading and listening hear the inflections and tone of your voice. Let them hear your voice crack with emotion or increase pitch with excitement. Adding emotion will bring your story to life. The experience of listening while reading a story is much more dynamic than that of just reading the text alone. Generations from now, your family members will be grateful that they can listen to the voice of their great-great-great grandmother or grandfather.

VIDEO

We live in the digital age, so people commonly film important moments in their life. It is easy to capture even the smallest moments because of how widespread smartphones are. If you have the videos, add them. Do it. Videos are just fun, and are a sure way to drive engagement. They have the ability to influence the reader’s mindset and emotions while they read the story leading to more interest and involvement. It is fulfilling to watch a video snippet, see a moment as it unfolds, and then read the story about the events leading up to that moment and those that followed afterward. The addition of videos creates a very holistic storytelling experience that inspires the writer and the readers.

DOCUMENTS

Many stories can be supported with documents above and beyond photos and videos. Newspaper articles, birth certificates, artwork, scans of handwritten letters, diplomas, and census information add legitimacy to your stories. You may have some of these items laying around. Many of these items, however, may not be as easy to find and can require some research. Fortunately, many resources exist to assist in the search. A few of the more popular options include Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage.

PERSPECTIVE

Show your life story from a different perspective to keep people interested. Fortunately, TSOLife offers multiple ways to make that happen. The map view allows your life to be viewed from a global perspective and highlights your footprint on the world. Readers will immediately be able to see where you have traveled. Readers can also view your story on a vertical or horizontal timeline which offers them a chronological walk through of your life. These different viewing options allows your life story to interest a diverse group of readers.

By utilizing what resources you already have available to you, you can truly make your life story stand out. No matter who is reading it, whether it be family members, friends, or people you have never met, they will enjoy the exciting storytelling experience you are offering them. Even if you are writing for yourself as a way to reflect on your life, combining your written words with other aspects facilitates a more investigative and holistic experience. Pages of lines of text, tedious and not visually appealing, are a poor representation of the beauty and struggle in life—in your life. You have so much more to offer, so let your story shine.

Next week look forward to more information about resources available to find public documents and genealogical records.

 

Check out how photos and an audio recording bring this story to life.

Find supporting documents at Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage

Check out these new perspectives on a life story: map view, vertical timeline, and horizontal timeline. To learn more, read How to Write a Good Life Story.

 

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, Storytelling

Why Does My Story Matter?

When considering whether or not to tell or write your life story, you may wonder why you should put in the effort. Documenting an entire life story can be a lot of work. It is a daunting task. You may wonder, “What is the point in all of this?” or “Why does my story matter?” For some people, the answers to these questions come easily. The reasons to tell their life story are personal and ingrained in who they are. For others, the answers might not be quite so obvious. Recording your life story seems like a lot of work, and you may worry that no one will appreciate the time and effort. Chances are that you may fall somewhere between the two extremes. You may feel that you should write about your life, but are not sure why you feel that way.

You are not alone. It is important to acknowledge that your story is part of a bigger picture. Storytelling has been a part of humanity since ancient times, and it provides an outlook into the future. Since man first walked on this Earth, stories have been told to relay values, life lessons, happiness… the list goes on. Your story has been shaped  by your motivations, emotions, imagination and your experiences, just like the stories that came before yours. Stories are what connect us to our humanity. Your story has been a part of you from your first breath, and we encourage you to share your experiences, so that it becomes part of our story, your family’s story - a life story.The most important reason your story matters is just that it matters to the people around you. Stories have a beginning, middle and an end, but the loved ones in your life have not spent all of the stages with you – we encourage you to share your story so that they can become a part of the stages they were not there for and more.

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David Sawyer, TSOLife CEO, encouraging WWII and Vietnam veterans to share their experiences.

 

We believe that people do truly care about their family history. People are drawn to stories that they can relate to or connect with – what better story to hear than those from the people you love or are related to? People care more now than they have in the past. We found the numbers to prove it. The Ancestry Global Family History Report interviewed over 6,000 people in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden, and Germany. The interviews revealed that two thirds of people feel it has become more important than ever to know their family history. After reading or learning about family members, 55% of young people were inspired to talk with family members to learn more.

It is also important to note that stories are told for a reason. From cave drawings to the dinner table, stories have been told to entertain, to teach, to share, to inspire and to express. While the internet has certainly changed how we share and access information, the reasons for sharing this information remain the same. The passing of knowledge from generation to generation remains the foundation of family history. Learning about ancestry benefits personal growth and strengthens ties within families. The benefits are immense. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • 67% of people feel that knowing their family history has made them a wiser person.
  • 77% of people say it helped them understand who they are.
  • 66% of people say it has given them more pride in who they are.
  • 46% of people felt it had inspired them to be a better person.
  • 72% say it has helped them to be closer to older relatives.
  • 50% say it has helped them to be closer to younger relatives.

People pass on their values and lessons with storytelling. It shows where a person came from and where they are heading. These stories not only have the ability to give individuals insight into who they are and strengthen their self-identity, but they can also lead to stronger bonds and relationships with living relatives.

Basically, your story is meaningful. If just one person heard your story, you would share humanity, so share that with your loved ones. Leave your mark on the world by sharing what has shaped your life experience. The impact of sharing your words and experiences is immense. Your life story matters—to you and everyone around you.

We cannot think of a reason not to tell your life story, can you? For inspiration on making your story stand out, read How Do I Make my Life Story Stand Out? 

Want to learn more? Check out the Ancestry Global Family History Report.

 

 

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife's beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days