Watch your well-being soar when you open yourself up to others.
When I gave my first TEDx talk about the power of happiness, it was life-changing. Being able to express myself to a receptive, completely engaged audience gave me a new sense of freedom and creativity. I wanted others to find the same experience.
Several years earlier, I created Stand Up for Passion, an alternative to TEDx, as a way for ordinary people to express their struggles and achievements in a public forum without fear. It’s a seven-minute talk, just you and the mic. I work with each speaker over the course of a few weeks to create a cohesive story around the theme of identifying and then following a life's passion.
Since starting Stand Up for Passion, we’ve heard tales of spontaneous acts of kindness, survival, bravery, cowardice, kismet, lost loves and fresh starts. What I’ve learned from telling my personal story—honestly and openly—and helping others craft theirs, is that a kind of alchemy takes place. Certainly part of the point is to entertain the audience with a compelling narrative taken from a pivotal moment in your life, but in doing so you also form a closer bond with the audience than you would have ever expected and experience newfound growth and catharsis at the same time.
Here are the most important reasons why you should take the plunge and share your story with the world (or at least a small, receptive audience). You will definitely be happier for it.
1. To heal
Everyone has a story to tell. If you feel something heavy is sitting at your core and you need to get it out, talking about it is the way to heal yourself. When you tell your story, you make yourself vulnerable. You embrace your shadow and surrender the weight you’ve been carrying. This is an incredibly powerful process for healing.
2. To gain confidence
Speaking in public is one of our greatest fears. Another is exposing our inner selves. Why not tackle both at the same time? If you want to work on self-confidence, go on stage and tell your story. Make yourself vulnerable in front of strangers. Express yourself deeply and honestly. The more personal you are, the more you will touch people. Test your limits.
3. To find your voice
We all have different ways of expressing ourselves. The goal is to find your voice: the character, the poetry in you that you may not know exists. You will find your own unique way of speaking when you are at your most personal, but you can apply it in any context.
4. To make use of your biggest asset
Your life, your experience, your story is your biggest asset. Our stories are deep, raw and real. People succeed not because they find what works, but often by doing everything that does not work first.
Thinking back through your life at the ways you have survived and thrived will remind you of what a strong person you really are. Then when you craft the contours of that life into a narrative worth repeating to others, you will discover qualities you did not realize you had.
5. To express emotions
Most people bury or deny their emotions. But once we have exhausted every technology, what will be left? Emotions, not emoticons, connect us as humans. When you tell your story with honesty and an open heart you make a direct and powerful connection with your audience and open yourself up in new and unexpected ways.
6. To become more comfortable in your body
When you speak in public, you use not just your voice, but your whole physicality. In order to give meaning to your story, to make a connection with your audience and to express a range of emotions, you will need to truly be present in your whole body, aware and conscious of your movements, yet unselfconscious, almost like a dancer.
7. To become aligned
Once your story is out, and you have fully connected with an audience that sees the real you, you are aligned. In other words, you are no longer hiding anything—no longer holding anything back. Your shadow has been exposed to the light and your mind-body-soul are in alignment. Happiness follows alignment.
8. To make negativity disappear
Once you let out your story, you can use this event to “anchor” you in life. After telling your story and finding clarity and alignment, it will be easy for you to allow the negative energy or people around you to go away.
9. To create community
Happiness comes from a group that forms around you, and with whom you share the same values. This community of like-minded people will come to you naturally once you share your story because they have seen the values that you both share. In addition, by crafting and telling your story, you have clarified your own values and vision for yourself. This allows you to go out and find the kind of community that will be right for you.
10. To become a storyteller
Once you have crafted your first story, you will start to notice threads of narrative that run through other aspects of your life, such as your work and your family. Seeing the world through a storyteller’s lens is an enriching way to look at life. It is one way to bring a sense of meaning to an otherwise chaotic world.
Arnaud Collery is an award-winning comedian, filmmaker and founder of StandupforPassion.com with events in Tokyo, London and New York. He is also a TEDx speaker on happiness and TEDx coach. Find more at arnaudcollery.com.