Book Club Notes Guidepost #4 and #6

Cultivating Gratitude and Joy

The people Brene interviewed who were joyful, without exception practiced gratitude and “attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice”. (pg 78)  They also described joy and gratitude as spiritual practices, believing in a human interconnectedness and in a greater power. (pg78)  The difference between happiness and joy noted by these individuals is that happiness is a human emotion connected to external circumstances and joy is a spiritual way of practicing gratitude.

“I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration and faith.”  (Pg 81)  She goes on to discuss how vulnerable we feel when we experience intense joy, love and gratitude.  It is often during these moments we let our mind take us to the what if dark place of worry and fear.  She says that to truly experience joy, we must believe that we are sufficient, that no matter what happens we know that we are enough and that there will always be enough.  (pg 83)

On page 84 she addresses how our society values those who are affluent and famous and often overlooks the quiet, hardworking individuals seeing them as ordinary and at times meaningless.  This is in spite of the fact that most of us see some of the most ordinary times and people in our lives as the most meaningful in terms of joy and love.  (pg 84)

She ends the chapter with ideas for practicing gratitude and for appreciating the ordinary that makes our lives so full.

 

Guidepost #5

Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith.

Often reason and intuition are pitted against one another rather than seen as two parts that can make a whole.  She says “intuition is a rapid-fire, unconscious associating process—like a mental puzzle.  The brain makes an observation, scans its files, and matches the observation with existing memories, knowledge and experiences.  This results in the “gut“feeling we all get from time to time.  Often, though we ignore these feelings, we don’t trust them or ourselves.  As she says, many people when asked what their gut tells them could reply “I don’t know, we haven’t spoken in years.” (pg 88)Sometimes our gut tells us something we don’t want to admit to ourselves, sometimes it tells us that we need more information before we can make a decision and sometimes it just tells us to act now.  She goes on to say “Intuition is not a single way of knowing- it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith and reason.” (pg 89)

“…Faith and reason are not natural enemies.”  (pg90)  “Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”  She quotes theologian Richard Rohr:”my scientist friends have come up with things like ‘principles of uncertainty’ and dark holes.  They’re willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories.  But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true.  We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of ‘faith’!  How strange that the very word ‘faith’ has come to mean its exact opposite.”  (pg 91)

She ends this chapter with the challenge for us to learn to live with uncertainty; we don’t always know for certain what is going to happen and that is ok.   For times when anxiety is getting in the way of handling a situation she recommends the Serenity Prayer.  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Amen!

 Guidepost #6

Cultivating Creativity

She starts this chapter describing her early years at home when her father was still a student at University and her family lived in a small apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Her mother was very creative, every wall had handmade art work, window curtains were made by her mother and the home was colorful.  She remembers the fun they had doing projects, art and otherwise with neighbors all along the street.  When her father finished University, they moved to an upscale neighborhood in Houston.  This was when the creativity stopped.  As she says “My parents were launched on the accomplishments-and-acquisitions track, and creativity gave way to that stifling combination of fitting in and being better than, also known as comparison.” (pg 94)  She goes on to state that fitting in becomes so important and we “…(are spending) enormous amounts of energy conforming and competing.”  There is no time left for creativity.  She quotes her friend Laura Williams ‘Comparison is the thief of happiness.’ (pg 95)

When we are comparing and fitting in, we often dismiss creativity as something we have no time or talent for.  She says there is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people.  “There are either people who use their creativity or people who don’t.  The only unique contribution we will make to this world is with our creativity and as long as we are creating we are cultivating meaning.”  (pg 96)

Letting go of comparison is a constant commitment, it requires constant awareness.  “It is so easy to take our eyes off our path to check out what others are doing and if they’re ahead of behind us.  …Creativity helps us stay mindful.” (pg 97)

She ends this chapter with this comment;”when I make creating a priority, everything in my life works better.”  She challenges us all to find like minded people, take a class, take a risk or do something you have always dreamed of doing.  Get started today!

 

There will be no Book Club for the next 2 Saturdays, but we will meet again on July 13th to discuss Guideposts 7,8,9 and 10 to finish this book.

Have a wonderful week and see you on the 13th of July.

 

 

 

 

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Book Club Notes June 15th

Guidepost #3

Cultivating a Resilient Spirit.

When talking with people about resilience Brene states that she “learned about people’s capacities to stay mindful and authentic under great stress and anxiety, and … how they were able to transform trauma into Wholehearted living.” (pg 63)  People who are resilient are:
Resourceful, good problem solvers
Seek Help
Feel capable to do something to manage their feelings
Have social support
Feel connected with others  (pg 64)
As someone in group pointed out 3 out of 5 of these points referred to interacting with others.

Brene goes on to say that all of the resilient individuals had one other thing in common and that was a deep sense of spirituality.  “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” ( pg 64)

Resilient individuals also have 3 other significant patterns in common;  cultivating hope, practicing critical awareness and were able to let go of numbing and taking the edge off vulnerability discomfort and pain. (pg 65)

This was interesting to me and to several others in the group.  “Hope is not an emotion; it is a way of thinking … a thought process” (pg 65)  This comes about when we are able to set realistic goals, figure out a way to achieve these goals and believe in ourselves. (pg 65)  These are the individuals who also believe in hard work and persistence, and see this as a necessary part of life.

Practicing critical awareness is about “reality-checking the messages” we give ourselves.  (pg 67)  When we practice this instead of zooming in on our perceived faults or weaknesses, we zoom out and become more aware of others around us who also struggle.  (pg 68)

Numbing and taking the edge off becomes a way of life for many of us.  As Brene says when we numb our feelings, we not only take the edge off the sad/difficult feelings, we also take the edge off the happy positive feelings.  Feelings can be numbed by “alcohol, food, drugs, sex, relationships, money, work, caretaking, gambling, staying busy, affairs, chaos, shopping, planning, perfectionism, constant change and the Internet.” (pg 70)  Resilient individuals are “not immune to numbing.  The primary difference seemed to be that they were aware of the dangers of numbing and developed the ability to feel their way through high-vulnerability experiences.” (pg 70)  On page 71 she says “I’ve spent most of my life trying to outrun vulnerability and uncertainty.  I wasn’t raised with the skills and emotional practice needed to “lean into discomfort”.  (pg72)  Most of us weren’t and now it is time to unlearn the old ways and start to understand that leaning into vulnerability although scary is ok.  We will survive and in essence begin to thrive.  I think this ties in so well with what Sandra discussed at our Breath Workshop on Saturday.  Using Breath as one huge coping skill is a wonderful gift.

Under Dig Deep I like her vowel check AEIOUY

A= have I been Abstinent today?
E= have I Exercised today?
I= what have I done for myself today?
O=what have I done for Others today?
U= am I holding on to Unexpressed emotions today?
Y= Yeah!  What is something good that’s happened today?

Look at what works for you to set the tone of your day.  Try meditation and/or prayer.  Find the way to spark the light within.  (pg 74)

Thanks to all for coming and sharing at Book Club today.  It is so good to hear everyone’s take on the book and on life itself.  Next week we will start at 1 again at Tomi’s office and will do Guideposts 4, 5 and 6.  See you there!

 

 

 

 

Book Club Notes – June 11

Guidepost #1  Cultivating Authenticity

“…authenticity is not something we have or we don’t have.  It’s a practice – a conscious choice of how we want to live.”  (Pg 49)  The choice is ours to take the risk and let others see our true self or to “be anybody you need me to be”.  (Pg 50)  “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.” (pg 50)

Taking the risk of being our true self can create all sorts of angst within us.  As Brene says on pg 51, “What if I think I am enough and other’s don’t? What if I let my imperfect self be seen and known and nobody likes what they see?  What if my friends and family like the perfect me better…you know, the one who takes care of everything and everyone?”

Speaking out is a challenge for many women and begins to feel like a major balancing act, being honest but yet “fitting in”.  Being authentic “isn’t always the safe option.” (pg 52)  But by not being true to ourselves, we are hiding our many gifts and talents from the world.  She goes on to say that “if you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following:  anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”  (pg 53)

I love her line under Dig Deep.  “Don’t shrink.  Don’t puff up.  Stand on your sacred ground.  I think there is something deeply spiritual about standing your ground.”  (pg 54)  “You have to brave with your life, so others can be brave with theirs.”   (pg 54)

Guidepost #2 Cultivating Self Compassion

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”  Anna Quindlen (pg 55)

Brene starts this chapter with her story of writing her first book “I Thought it Was Just Me” where she discusses shame.  One of the letters she received from a fan, said that she really didn’t think she herself had shame, but if she ever did something on perfectionism, she would be the first in line for a “read along.”  She goes on to say that “Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking.  In fact, Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.”  ( Pg 55) “When we don’t claim shame, it claims us … through perfectionism.” (pg 56)  She explains perfectionism as “the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.  It’s a shield. … It is the thing that is preventing us from taking flight. … Perfectionism is trying to earn approval and acceptance.”  (pg 56)

I found it interesting that she goes on to say perfectionism hampers success and is often the pathway to “depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis.”  Pg 56 we become so afraid of failure, we neglect to put anything out into the world just in case it is not right or not what others want to hear.

To overcome perfectionism we need to develop “shame resilience, and practice self compassion.”  ( pg 57)  She suggests starting with self kindness, being warm and understanding to ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate.  Practice common humanity, recognizing that suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience.  Practice mindfulness, not over-identifying with thoughts and feelings, just acknowledge them and let them move on by.  (pg 60)

There is a site online  www.self-compassion.org where you can take the self compassion scale, and see how you are doing.  Check it out and find out the areas of strength and areas you can focus to make changes.

We had a great group again, and lots of good discussion.  We did not get through Guidepost #3, so will continue on that next week and also do Guideposts #4 and #5.

Have a wonderful week and see you next Saturday.