“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion famously wrote in “The White Album.” In many ways, Didion was right: Stories may not seem like a basic survival need, but our brains naturally tell stories as a way to give structure and meaning to our lives. And according to research in narrative psychology, an emerging field of study that examines how stories shape our lives and personalities, the stories we tell ourselves play a large role in who we are. “Consciousness begins when brain gains the power, the simple power I might add, of telling a story,” explained neuroscientist Antonio Damasio.