There are so many reasons why people document their life stories. Some want to leave a legacy for future generations, while others want to reflect on their journey or reminisce on the highlights they experienced over the years. For some, their life story is so interesting that it simply had to be documented or no one would believe it.
One key element of documenting life stories that is often overlooked is the incredible benefit it can have on your well-being and overall happiness.
The mental health benefits of regular journaling have long been touted by psychologists and mental health professionals as a way to reduce stress, develop a sense of control and regulate mood, among other positive impacts. However, the impact of recording your whole life story is unparalleled.
As the UK’s leading biography-writing service, StoryTerrace has documented thousands of life stories in recent years, connecting everyday people with professional ghostwriters across the world. StoryTerrace’s writers have worked with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and ethnicities, who are at different stages of their life. One key theme that unites almost all of our customers is the mental health benefit they experience from the process of chronicling their tales.
There are four main reasons why the process of documenting your personal story can be transformational:
Understanding yourself better
Recording your journey through life and remembering the challenges and triumphs you faced represents an opportunity to analyse your past and gain incredible insight into who you are today.
Understanding how experiences have influenced the path you chose in your life is paramount in achieving a higher level of self-awareness, security and self-confidence, and can also make you aware of ambitions, viewpoints and dreams that you had not yet realised.
Overcoming unresolved trauma
The process of documenting your life story can be incredibly helpful in overcoming unresolved trauma or sensitive issues which may be weighing heavily on your mind.
Numerous studies have found that writing about upsetting memories and troubling topics can be as effective as undergoing cognitive processing therapy in treating adults with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Whilst the process may seem uncomfortable initially, documenting your life story can go great lengths towards helping you to overcome trauma and strengthen your mental well-being. However, it is important to note that writing your life story doesn’t constitute a replacement for therapy, should you need professional support.
Strengthening personal relationships and rebuilding families
One of the most rewarding aspects of writing your life story in terms of mental well-being and happiness is that it can help you to develop much deeper relationships with those around you.
Many people in the StoryTerrace community report that, by documenting their life stories, they have dramatically improved their relationships with friends, family and even their partners, as it gives those around you a chance to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for who you are and the life choices you made.
The sheer fact that your story is documented forever for your children, grandchildren and other loved ones no matter what happens creates peace of mind, whether you are blessed with good or poor health. This feeling can be so strong that some of our clients work tirelessly on their books during their last days.
Countless studies show that helping other people can have a reciprocal positive impact on your own mental health. Besides sharing your stories, documenting your life story represents an opportunity to pass along wisdom, life lessons and valuable knowledge to younger generations of your family, or even friends.
By offering examples of how you faced, dealt with and overcame adversity or difficulty in your life can provide future generations with invaluable knowledge and perspective, and offers a source of strength and support which they can draw upon to navigate difficult periods in their life.
It is well known that journaling, keeping a diary, or even abstract creative writing has been shown to have a variety of mental health benefits. Now, we are seeing that writing your life story, or working with a writer to do so, is having a dramatically positive effect on people’s well-being and overall happiness.
We’ve been fortunate enough to help thousands of people document their life stories or the stories of their loved ones, and time and again we are amazed at how many of our customers report that the process helped them to work through the trauma that has endured for decades, develop more self-confidence and security, or simply to enjoy better family life or intimate relationship.
Especially in today’s world, in which many of us are dealing with not only the physical, but mental health impact of COVID-19 and the consequences of the pandemic, I encourage anyone who has been thinking about writing a book or documenting their life story, or that of a loved one, to take advantage of this time and put pen to paper.
StoryTerrace helps people to turn their life stories into a book. The company takes care of the whole process – matching clients with one of their 600 professional writers, interviews, photo gathering, editing, design and printing – for a fixed price.
Books are on average 100 pages long, meaning that everyone can have their life story – or the life stories of their loved ones; documented in a professionally curated autobiography, biography, or series of memoirs. Customers are able to pick their ghostwriter based on a smart, highly personalised match considering factors such as professional and cultural background, shared experiences, personality and interests.
Rutger Bruining is the founder and CEO of StoryTerrace.