This week I was in London to hear the wonderful Brene Brown talk about vulnerability. I know…it doesn’t sound that exciting. It even sounds a bit scary, especially when she adds words like shame into the mix. The reason this is scary for us is that it is all about our primitive human emotions and behaviour. We all experience them but we don’t really want to know about them, and definitely don’t want to talk about them. However, it turns out that understanding shame and vulnerability are key to living a happier life.
Brene talked to Roman Krznaric from The School of Life about the ideas in her latest book Daring Greatly, which looks at how allowing ourselves to be vulnerable transforms us and enables us to live a full and connected life – what she calls ‘wholehearted living’. She is a fascinating and funny speaker, getting her ideas across in such an simple relatable way, yet with the authority of 12 years qualitative research and data collection.
I’m familier with Brene’s work as I have read her two previous books, which continuously help in my journey towards overcoming perfectionism. There were many ideas in her talk this week, but the thing that stood out for me most was the idea of how many of us aim for the extraordinary at the expense of the ordinary in our lives. It is great that human beings aim high, that we have amazing qualities that enable us to achieve great things, like imagination, drive, compassion and creativity. But the question is: do too many of us forget about the treasures within the ordinary moments of our lives because we are too focused on being or creating the extraordinary? Brene illustrated this in two ways.
Firstly she talked about working with a group of parents who had lost adult children in the 9/11 attacks in New York. When asked what they missed most, every one said they missed the ordinary, everyday things that they did with their children. This ties in with all the articles I’ve ever read where people talk about missing a loved one who has died. They miss the laughter, a certain mannerism, being able to share things, even the annoying and irritating habits they had, and the fighting. All simple ordinary things.
Secondly she talked about her current trip to London (she’s from Texas). Her 7 year old son has been picking up the UK lingo and using new words and saying things he wouldn’t normally say. Brene explained that being in London has been a great, exciting and fun experience with loads of great memories, but what she will remember most is an ordinary moment when a beloved 7 year old said something funny.