In a nutshell, the book is about her research that says allowing yourself to have the courage to be vulnerable as a human being increases happiness. In case you missed it, I want to share with you the takeaway advice that impacted me the most.
Brene was saying for example, if you’re a parent, you know that moment when you’re standing over your precious sleeping child and you’re filled with love for them, you can’t believe you could ever love anyone or anything this much, and suddenly you worry:
“What if something bad happened to them?” In other words, it’s about when things are going really good in your life, as in your job or relationship or marriage and you can’t really enjoy it because you’re afraid it’s too good, the other shoe is surely gonna drop.
Instead of allowing yourself to dwell on the fear or anxiety, instead consciously shift your thinking to gratitude. Simply be grateful for that moment, savor when things are good, appreciate it, and let the other thought go, because you can’t control the future anyway.
I thought this was fantastic advice, countless times in my past I’ve worried when things were going well, even just minutes or hours after wonderful news came my way.
Brene said, (and all of this is paraphrasing her message in my own words, by the way, so get the book for her exact phrasing-)
-She said her research shows that people who try to self protect by “practicing” tragedy in their imaginations, thinking what they would do or how they would feel if something terrible happens, she said it doesn’t do any good, because those people are no more prepared to handle tragedy then the ones who didn’t try to “practice.”
You can’t prepare yourself for tragedy she says, so don’t even try. Live in the moment.
She also talked about how numbing feelings doesn’t really work, as with alcohol or drugs or food, because when you numb some of the bad feelings, you end up numbing some (or all) of the good feelings, too.
I’m in no way against moderate drinking for most people, but in my new life as a sober girl/woman, I get to experience the full range of human feelings and emotions and I don’t miss the good stuff. You have to feel the uncomfortable feelings in order to fully feel all of the joy.
It’s taken me a long time to begin to get this, that my feelings are a gift, because they mean I am fully alive. Here is the famous Teddy Roosevelt quote that inspired the book title:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Teddy Roosevelt, speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris, April 23, 1910