Can Better Stories Create Better Outcomes for Our Civilization?

Becoming an 'Activated Storyteller' in our shifting world

We are at a critical turning point in our (his)story. The modern story of greed, individualism, control and endless economic growth with finite resources appears to be collapsing. The hopelessness of a materialistic culture that can't even make sense of what's real anymore is now manifesting itself in record rates of depression, obesity and suicide. 

What role are we playing in this story? And how can step outside our current narrative (the postmodern era of detached irony) that's driving us in this era of uncertainty? How do we open ourselves to better stories? And what comes after the coveted Hero's Journey that our culture is perpetually stuck in? Could it be that there's a story after the hero conquers evil and comes home? A story about becoming an interconnected, awestruck being instead of an isolated one. A story about helping to heal and regenerate our world through creativity and innovation.

I was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, amidst the chaos of the drug crisis, in a Jewish middle-/upper-class bubble, feeling like I didn't belong and wondering out loud about the point of it all. Right after graduating high school, I was catapulted out of that bubble and drafted to the Colombian Army for 48 hours due to a clerical error. The experience literally woke me up, showing me how lucky I was and what a unique opportunity I had to pursue a meaningful life. I got a clear message of what I was supposed to do with my life; it came like a lightning bolt, and it was as if I could read it in my head: I was going to enable creative projects to come to life. 

I didn't know what that meant, but it became my guiding light, and I dropped out of business school and moved to the U.S. to enroll in film school pursuing that idea. I fulfilled it by co-founding m ss ng p eces over a decade ago and growing it to become the new wave production partner for content and immersive experiences that inspire culture—working with the world's leading organizations and brands while attracting like-minded business partners, storytellers and experience designers. 

About two-plus years ago, I experienced heavy burnout and felt like I had hit a wall. I had worked so hard on building the company that I'd forgotten about taking care of myself and felt depleted and unfocused and struggled to just make it through the days. Our first baby was coming, and I felt like I needed a radical shift to have the presence and energy necessary to raise a child in this world. 

So I went on a crazy journey to optimize myself, from intermittent fasting to diving deep into mythology. From cold showers to sacred journeying to tracking and altering my heart rate variability, from EEG-based meditation to experimenting with Nootropics and much more, a year into it I started to regain myself. One morning I woke up with my 2.0 life purpose. It was as clear as the first epiphany, but the stakes were higher this time: I was going to enable creative projects to come to life and raise collective consciousness. 

This time it meant that it wasn't enough to just perpetuate the same narratives that got us where we are today. We needed to open our hearts and raise our awareness to a new kind of narrative that would help deprogram the story most of us have based our entire existence on. In the last few months, this insight has crystallized into a simple concept that I want to share with you. It's something I'm calling Activated Storytelling. 

Activated Storytelling is creating upgraded narratives that positively impact ourselves while helping to generate a flourishing world.

It combines the latest biohacking and neurohacking techniques with systems thinking, mythology, filmmaking and mindfulness science to upgrade the way you see yourself, so you can create from a place that activates others. As far as I can tell, it's a method, a lens and a platform that connects a booming field of creativity and ideas much needed at this critical juncture. 

I'm convinced that every opportunity we have as storytellers, creatives and companies must be taken as an opportunity to activate others. It can't be entertainment for entertainment's sake anymore, but it shouldn't feel like work; it should feel like coming home. I'm going to be exploring ways we can speed up the creating and duration of Activated Stories for the larger culture. If you've been tuned in, then you know it's been happening since the '60s, on and off.

Did you know that Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time, came to James Cameron as a vision while spending time in the Amazon jungle? Or that Black Panther and Doctor Strange, two mind-bending mega-blockbusters both riff on the "Hidden Masters hiding in plain sight myth," which may turn out to be real after all? Have you heard of the emerging field of Solarpunk stories that combine craftsmanship, community and technology powered by renewable energy in a post-climate-change world?

But I'm convinced you can't create Activated Stories if you are not taking care of yourself, if you are sleep deprived or if you are too attached to the little voice in your head that keeps telling you how unworthy you are. The process of Activated Storytelling requires upgrading yourself first, so then you can move on to help transform family, community, society, systems and finally new stories and narratives. This is a long-term endeavor, and we need to do it in a way that's sustainable to our bodies and minds first. 

I've spent a lot of time doubting myself, feeling like I wasn't good enough or had anything meaningful to say. For years I took for granted my gifts for inspiring others around me, and even as I write this I can hear all the reasons why I go forward. But time is up, and I feel compelled to get the message out.

We are in desperate need of new narrative arcs beyond the old and current archetypes, and you have an important role to play at any level as long as you are open to this message. What the world needs now are new, transformational stories empowering us to create a conscious narrative that generates better outcomes for our civilization. 

I'm diving deep into this journey and hope you join me. 

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Ari Kuschnir
Ari Kuschnir is founder of m ss ng p eces.