From the earliest days of language humans have told stories about their experiences and ascribed meaning to those incidents. Listeners believed the stories to be true or changed the account. At some point the stories began to incorporate events that had not yet happened or were not tangible.

According to Yuval Noah Harari in his Ted Talk What explains the rise of humans? our ability to construct stories and act upon them as if they were true distinguishes us as a species. What sets us apart is our ability to imagine and to act collectively as if it were reality.

Our stories constrain us and they free us. How many of us carry a story from our past that limits us personally? One of the gifts of therapy and coaching is to help people create new storylines that emphasize strengths rather than deficiencies.

How many of us embrace accounts about our race, religion, nationality or way of life? These stories unite us in common purpose. They also divide us when we view the “other” as an enemy to be eliminated.

If individuals turn to therapists to create new stories, how do we do so as a species? Perhaps, as verses from John Lennon’s iconic song remind us, we begin by tapping our imaginations in order to create a new narrative.

…Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.