Many feel overwhelmed and heartbroken from news events of the past weeks. While I too have experienced these feelings, reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown has had an impact on my thoughts as I process the recent violent acts including the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.

Making ourselves vulnerable may seem unwise in a world of violent acts. Yet when we fully understanding vulnerability, we can be open to its power. Through personal stories and research summaries Dr. Brown sets forth to guide the readers to explore vulnerability and its ability to transform our lives.

What is vulnerability?  It “is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. …Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.” (Page 2) It is connecting with love. It is a way of approaching life and ourselves as we risk and share our emotions. Vulnerability is an act of courage.

Given the many recent incidents of violence the concepts of connection and wholehearted living shared in this book seem important to share.

“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives and without it there is suffering.” (Page 8)

The victim of these events, their family members and their communities people need to know others care about them. They need to connect with others. They need to connect with those who can say “me, too” as well as those who can say ” I hear you…” We may not personally know their loss or emotions, but we can be there for them and with them as they journey forward.

If we don’t live in the area, we can (if we are able) provide financial support for counseling for the first responders, students, faculty and families.  We can support them on their journey to understanding this quote for themselves:

Dr. Brown has this to say about wholehearted living:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think…Yes, I an imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (Page 10)

We can connect with those around us – neighbors, co-workers, people we regularly pass on the street. We can each take part in #26Acts of Kindness. If we each did one kind act, think of the change we could bring to lives? Now, imagine the impact of everyone doing 26 acts of kindness. Need ideas? See this article. We can visit someone who is lonely. Watch for needs of support – an elderly neighbor who needs assistance shoveling snow, the mother whose child is running from her at the grocery store while the baby cries in the cart, and the co-worker who discloses possible abuse. They need us to be present, to be observant, and when appropriate, to take action.

Is this scary? Does it open you to being called nosy? Does it mean someone might tell you to go away? Yes, it can be all or any of those.

But the reality is we need those people, too. My elder neighbors have often been great for reporting activity around my home when I am at work. That woman at the store might enroll her children in one of my early music groups. That co-worker may be a great supporter of my efforts at work. Your story will vary from mine. Still, we all matter.

That vulnerability, compassion, and caring needs to be happening in our homes. It needs to be a deep opening. We need to treat the members in our home in this way:

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them.” (Page 223)

For a minute or an hour, we need to step away from the texting, the tweeting, the chatting, the gaming, the cooking, and the cleaning and truly notice, truly see those with whom we live. Seeing and acknowledging those in our home will powerfully impact our world for the better. People will know that matter to someone. They will sense love and understanding from relationships.

Those are powerful gifts we can share. They don’t cost money. They cost a little time. It means daring greatly and being vulnerable.

Will these actions create a world free from violence? Likely not, but it may put us in a better place to notice a need, to alert authorities to potential dangers, and to support people seeking appropriate assistance with mental and emotional issues.

Dr. Brown gives a wealth of examples for work, creative efforts, educational settings, and daily interactions. Her website offers a variety of materials including podcasts and guides to deepen our understanding.

I encourage your to read “Daring Greatly” no matter your walk in life.

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