S is for Jonah Sachs: The Power Of Positive Stories To Change The World

Jonah starts this talk at the Sustainable Brands conference by saying he has 15 minutes to give people some ideas they can use to change the world.

We can speed the shift towards building a sustainable world by telling great stories, says Jonah. He explains that stories can change people’s values, lives and activities.

Certain kinds of stories can create a myth – a paradigm – that tells us what is important in life. Myths can affect the DNA in a society, says Jonah. They provide us with several things.

They provide an explanation about how the world works.

They provide meaning to our lives.

They provide symbols that embody this meaning.

They provide us with rituals about how we can play out the stories in our lives.


The story of consumerism has been that we can make ourselves happy – at least temporarily – by buying a product. We have been told that: “To be a good citizen is to be a good consumer.”

Many people have rebelled against that myth. Even in the advertising world there has been a move towards emphasising that people can take charge of their own happiness.

The story of creativity is that we can be happy by taking responsibility for shaping our future and helping to build a better world. Happiness can come from within. This may be the path towards living a more meaningful life.

Revisiting Joseph Campbell’s work on The Heroic Journey, Jonah says that certain kinds of stories can change people’s lives. People relate to stories that show how everyday heroes can change the world.

Jonah invites people in the sustainability field to produce positive stories. Such stories need to show what our lives can be like when we act. They need:

To show what the positive future can look like.

To show what the good life – a life of meaning and happiness – can look like.

To show what the new partnering relationship between citizens and corporations can look like.

Jonah believes that such stories have the power to inspire people to build a more sustainable world.

You can discover more about his work at his website.



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