“Imagination should not be used to escape from reality, but to create it.”
This statement applies to fairy-tales too. They were never created to make us escape from reality, to make us dream at happy endings, although their purpose seems to be this one nowadays. Fairy-tales in fact, were never intended to children. Initially they were conceived as amusement for grown ups and in the 8th century they were put into scene in the select saloons of Paris. Fairy-tales began to be literature for children only in the 19th century, and they were modified a lot to be suitable for them.
I would like to share with you 10 facts I discovered from reading fiction throughout my life so far. 1. Let’s begin with 1 interesting fact about reading fiction on 3 fairy-tales myths.
First- that they were intended to children. Which I have already explained- untrue. They were entertainment for the cultured elites. Second myth- fairy-tales were written by the Grimm Brothers. Actually, what they did, was to gather all the legends and the stories that they considered to be part of the Germans. Although they never technically had written any of the fairy-tales, they did change them to make them appropriate to children. In time, people began to believe that Grimm Brothers had been the authors of those stories. Third Myth- Fairy-tales teach us lessons. Fairy-tales have many attracting qualities but teaching lessons is not one of them. The reason they are catchy is that they represent an endless source of adventure. Beyond chasing and rescuing scenes, however, there is serious hidden drama that reflects events that take place in the child’s mind. As soon as we go beyond “Once upon a time….”, we discover that fairy-tales are about vanity, about being greedy, about being envious, about deceiving, about being lazy or about sexual drives.
When a child is listening to a fairy-tale he is projecting parts of his SELF through the different characters and uses them as deposits for his competing elements – the good and the bad. From one fairy to another the witch represents the unhealthy aspects of the SELF. In other words, fairy-tales represent a way of solving the conflicts between the good – the main character – and the bad aspects – the witch – of the reader’s SELF.
For a fairy-tale to have a long-lasting effect on children, the main character has to experience the same emotions as the witch. For example, Snow White and the obsessive desire of the step mother to be the most beautiful in the world; children wish to be the most beautiful, the only one taken into consideration by their parents. The sin is vanity – and the child can relate to the witch. Children have to be tempted by the same temptations. Otherwise, the “sin” might be seen as something only the witch is suffering from, something foreigner to the child. If children wish to win over their unhealthy and impulsive drives, the witch must die!
Also, the reader must be assured the witch is dead, because if children do not interpret her death as something definite, they might assume she will reappear. And what’s the point in getting rid of if she will return unexpectedly? If the psychological objective of the story is to kill even the last piece of evil within the SELF, the witch’s death has to be complete and total, even if children are exposed to some violence.
For this reason fairy-tales do not claim to give answers, but they do tell children that there are important aspects to be taken seriously when the stake is the truth. That’s why fairy-tales exist. Not to make us dreamy and wait for the Prince on that White Horse or to think at a princess. “Imagination should not be used to escape from reality, but to create it.” In other words, fairy-tales are telling us that we can create our lives so that we can feel as princesses or as princes. For this reason, the witch must die!
Let’s kill the witch!
2.Reading fiction, and not just fairy-tales, makes you develop your empathy towards others because imagining creates understanding. There have been many studies conducted that highlighted the fact that imagining stories activates parts of our brains which help us understand others and see the world from a new perspective.
Not only this, but a lot of stories even have the potential to heal wounds and help the reader overcome different obstacles in life. Some therapists use healing stories to help their patients.
When we read about a feeling or a situation it’s like we are actually living the events we read about. It is easy for us then to relate to a character and learning that empathy, we easily apply it later in real life situations.
3.Based on the fact that we enhance our empathy or even develop it if we lack it, another fact that I discovered from reading fiction is that it helped me find myself. When we read we discover our true emotions as they are expressed already by someone else. We then look at life how we would deeply actually think of, but social pressures have taught us how to hide that. We become free again and we develop an inner strength, amplifying what we actually believe in or wish for, and that will set us free. Because it gives us hope.
4. I also found out that reading fiction taught me how to approach obstacles. When we read about the characters that overcome different obstacles, we keep in mind that experience and their struggle. We read about their emotions with which we can deeply empathize and later on, we use that knowledge, that inner force to go beyond the challenges that life brings us. We change our perspective to life.
5.Reading fiction makes me happier. It’s the characters, it’s the stories, it’s the perspectives, it’s the fact that you discover that the world is so much bigger than you can think of, it’s the fact that you understand that life is a special journey and reading, truly, madly, improves your life. It helped me feel good because it’s like you are living more than you actually are, you experience so much more and it gives you a satisfaction over the fact that you feel blessed with your own life, you do feel whatever you do in your life is worthwhile. It makes you happier and more grateful. I have a post on a special book that made me more grateful. HERE!
6.Another surprising fact I discovered from reading fiction is penciled in the idea that my creativity improves, develops, gets a high note. Especially when reading diverse forms of fiction. Diverse books as well help with that. When the story depicted is different than the classic fiction. When fantasy, magical realism, surrealism, science fiction, drama, all these bring to light more ideas in my brain. More things that can happen and how they can happen. Reading fiction particularly has a successful effect on helping the reader imagine different perspectives for one situation, one that the reader lives, one that is heard at work, read in a newspaper or discovered at TV. Fiction reading is like eating an ice-cream in the snow. You freeze in time with that character, you become one with the story, sometimes wishing for a different story, but then you realize, you can create another one if you take yourself near a fireplace.
7. Based on the fact that your creativity enhances when you read fiction, you also become more tolerant and open-minded. Living through so many lives, you have the ability to understand, empathize and change your attitude towards a lot of aspects happening in your life and in the life of others. Reading expanded my range of experiences. It teaches you why you should open your mind. And partly that is happening because of the fact that reading fiction builds your empathy, the main ingredient for opening up your mind.
8. Reading is most effective for stress. It’s actually the best at curing stress. Reading for as little as 6 minutes can reduce stress by 60%, slow heart beat, ease muscle tension and alter your state of mind. This links to number 5, that reading makes you happier. Because it gives you inner peace. Tranquility. How does this happen? Reading is like a pit-stop for our obsessive compulsive stressful train of thoughts about career, life, job, love life and all the other social pressures and stuff. Reading is like a bird song in a traffic jam. Unexpected. Pleasant. Disconnecting. Restful. Vibrant. Alive. Pure.
9. Reading fiction increases the use of other words. Mainly adjectives, phrases, different expressions. We all quote our different authors. It highlights your vocabulary. I mean, everyone knows that already. Check out the books that I wish and you will too to build up your vocabulary.
10. Reading fiction helps your brain stay in shape. It’s like brain fitness. Exercising with our minds is engaging more areas in our brain while at the same time providing tranquility and it helps with memory too.
I have a huge list of fiction and non-fiction books I want to read that appeal to me mostly.
Get inspired HERE!