We All Need a Daily Dose of Drama!
And this can be reading a story, watching a drama on TV or listening to a play on the radio - and ten minutes is long enough to improve our mental wellbeing and creativity.
According to Angus Fletcher (Professor of Story Science at Ohio State University), it is all to do with losing ourselves in another world rather than the actual act of reading.
Why does this happen?
He explains how different kinds of stories can help to alleviate a whole host of emotions - from grief, trauma and loneliness to love, empathy and joy.
This has been clinically proven too according to a soon-to-be-published study of 165 medical students. The study found that attending a single three hour literature class resulted in a medium to large decline in "burn-out" (that mixture of exhaustion and cynicism) for at least 48 hours by boosting joy, empathy and resilience.
What is the future of literature and drama?
Professor Fletcher believes that literature is the most powerful technology that human beings ever created.
"Its great invention was to address problems we could not solve: not how to start a fire or build a boat but how to live and love; how to maintain courage in the face of death; how to account for the fact that we exist at all."
He points out:
"Our world has become addicted to computer technology and we're putting more and more of that into human heads. What we should be doing instead is encouraging our children and ourselves to read a little more.
We don't need to read a lot, just a little bit each day and over time that reading grows and helps sustain you and strengthen you - and gives back to you in a way that social media would never do."
Now you have every excuse to spend a bit of time every day reading that book, watching that TV drama or listening to a podcast. And it would be a great idea to encourage family members to do the same.
We have written on the importance of reading with or to your children before. Reading with young people is the closest you are going to get to a magic bullet to help increase their chances in later life as being read to is the best indicator of later life outcomes. If you want to make a difference, this is the most efficient way you can do it. If you read, you are informed. You are able to take control of your own destiny. Reading is this key that unlocks your personal agency.
You can find out more from Angus Fletcher's recent publication "Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature" here.