Book Club Notes July 13th, 2013

Guidepost #7   Cultivating Play and Rest,

Letting go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth.

In this chapter Brene discusses the importance of Play in a balanced, happy life.  She quotes Dr. Stewart Brown as saying that “…play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy, helps us navigate complex social groups, and is at the core of creativity and innovation.”  Pg 100

She describes play as purposeless activity; we do it simply because it is fun.  In our society of accomplishing, accumulating and getting ahead, few people take time to play or to rest.  On pg 101 she states that play can help us deal with difficulties, bring back excitement and newness to our job, provide a sense of expansiveness promotes mastery of our craft and is an essential part of the creative process.

Just as our bodies and mind need play, they also need rest.  We have become a sleep deprived nation, with always just one more thing to do before I go to bed.  On page 101 she states that insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.  Yet many of us continue to believe that exhaustion is a status symbol of hard work and that sleep is a luxury. “We are a nation of exhausted and overstressed adults raising overscheduled children.” Pg 101

Brene then shares that she and her husband had a “Dream List” that they had drawn up of things that they wanted over time.  After she started working on this book they sat down and made an Ingredients for Joy and Meaning List.  They realized that the things they were working toward on their dream list did nothing in terms of making their lives fuller.  Realizing this they both cut back at work and also cut back on some of their children’s activities so they had more time to play, rest and enjoy life together. She ends this chapter with a challenge to all of us to draw up an Ingredients for Joy and Meaning list.  Keep this list handy and then check it against your to do list.   Cross something off your to do list and write in Take A Nap!


Guidepost #8 Cultivating Calm and Stillness …Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

This chapter is about practicing ways of decreasing anxiety rather than finding more ways to work through our increasing anxiety.  I found Brene’s descriptions of calm and still, very interesting and she stresses that there is a difference between calm and still.

Her description of calm, “…as creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.” (pg 106)  So, calm is the awareness while you are in the moment, that you have a choice in how you handle the situation.  She goes on to say that..”anxiety is extremely contagious but so is calm.”  (pg 107)  She says the best way for her to stay calm is to focus on breathing.  This gives you time to think about what you want to say or do, or if you even need to respond.

Her description of Stillness is …”creating a clearing.  It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.” (pg 108)  She says that when we do this of course we have to look at our lives and many of us live in fear of this.  We are either overfunctioners and look after everyone else’s business which helps us avoid looking inward and assessing our own situation or underfunctioners who wait for someone else to take over and solve our problems.  Many of us see ourselves as just this way, rather than realizing we have learned these behaviors so we can change them once we become aware.  For overfunctioners that means having the courage to face our own vulnerabilities and underfunctioners can learn to amplify our strengths.

Look for different ways that each of you can find calm and stillness in your life.






Guidepost #9 Cultivating Meaningful Work Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”

I liked her statement “We all have gifts and talents.  When we cultivate those gifts and share them with the world, we create a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives.” (pg 112)  She goes on to say that if we do not use these gifts, we suffer emotionally and physically.  We can feel empty, disconnected, frustrated, resentful, fearful and disappointed.  We are often looking for a spiritual connection, but looking in the wrong places.  Sharing our gifts with the world is our surest connection to God (pg 112)
Many times using our gifts takes tremendous commitment as it is often not what is paying the bills.  The meaning we are seeking in life is unique to us, as are our gifts.

Self doubt undermines our process of finding our gifts and sharing them with the world.  She goes on to say that if “developing and sharing our gifts is how we honor spirit and connect with God, self-doubt is letting our fear undermine our faith.” (pg 113)  We often let the idea of what we are “supposed to do” (ie: make money) get in the way of doing what we love.  On page 115 she says “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Make a list of work that inspire you, what do you want to do when you grow up?  What brings meaning to you?







Guidepost #10 Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

“Laughter, song and dance create emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly mattes when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration, or healing:  We are not alone.” (pg 118)

She quotes Anne Lamott who defines laughter this way.  “Laughter is a bubbly, effervescent form of holiness.”  (pg 118)

Music adds so much to our lives, whether we are conscious of it or not.  Brene gave an example of listening to a part of a movie, first with sound and then without sound.  With music, even thought she wasn’t conscious of the music per se, she found the scene tense, anxiety producing.  When she played the same scene again without the sound,  the same scene seemed flat, unemotional.  She goes on to say that music reaches out to us in many different ways and helps us feel more connected.

Although good for the soul “…there is no form of self-expression that makes us feel more vulnerable than dancing.  It is literally full-body vulnerability.” (pg 119)  As children we feel so comfortable dancing and moving when we hear music, but over time feeling the need to be cool or fit in, we start to feel self conscious and dancing becomes one more area where we doubt ourselves.

Laughter, so good for all of us, starts to become an area too where we worry that we are being uncool, stupid or foolish.   Rather than take a chance we take the quiet approach, choosing to look in control instead of quirky, or downright silly.  “We hustle for our worthiness by slipping on the emotional and behavioral straitjacket of cool and posturing as the tragically hip and the terminally ‘better than’ .”  (pg 121)  She goes on to say that we want to be a situation where we can control what others think about us.  This constant need to be in control of ourselves leads to betrayal of our true selves and eventually to the betrayal of our family and friends. (pg 123)  Take time at home to turn the music up, dance, laugh…get moving and have fun.  Dare to be goofy, take time to laugh.

I loved this book, and the members of the Book Club all enjoyed it as well.  I hope those of you who followed along on line will get the book and read it yourselves if you haven’t all ready.  Reading Brene Brown’s book will make you wish she was your next door neighbor who you could invite over for coffee and possibly a cookie!

Book Club is taking a break now until the middle of August.  We will announce the new book shortly.

Have a wonderful rest of July.