Enduring Joy

December 6th, 2014

There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.

— Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, p. 8-9

Don’t Squander Joy.

November 22nd, 2014

We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience. Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen — and they do happen — we are stronger.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 126

Be Grateful for What You Have.

November 21st, 2014

When I asked people who had survived tragedy how we can cultivate and show more compassion for people who are suffering, the answer was always the same: Don’t shrink away from the joy of your child because I’ve lost mine. Don’t take what you have for granted — celebrate it. Don’t apologize for what you have. Be grateful for it and share your gratitude with others. Are your parents healthy? Be thrilled. Let them know how much they mean to you. When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 125

Ordinary Moments

November 21st, 2014

Joy comes to us in moments — ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 125

Practicing Gratitude

November 19th, 2014

Scarcity and fear drive foreboding joy. We’re afraid that the feeling of joy won’t last, or that there won’t be enough, or that the transition to disappointment (or whatever is in store for us next) will be difficult. We’ve learned that giving in to joy is, at best, setting ourselves up for disappointment and, at worst, inviting disaster. And we struggle with the worthiness issue. Do we deserve our joy, given our inadequacies and imperfections? What about the starving children and the war-ravaged world? Who are we to be joyful?

If the opposite of scarcity is enough, then practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that we’re enough. I use the word practicing because the research participants spoke of tangible gratitude practices, more than merely having an attitude of gratitude or feeling grateful. In fact, they gave specific examples of gratitude practices that included everything from keeping gratitude journals and gratitude jars to implementing family gratitude rituals.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 124

The Antidote to Foreboding

November 18th, 2014

Even those of us who have learned to “lean into” joy and embrace our experiences are not immune to the uncomfortable quake of vulnerability that often accompanies joyful moments. We’ve just learned how to use it as a reminder rather than a warning shot. What was the most surprising (and life changing) difference for me was the nature of that reminder: For those welcoming the experience, the shudder of vulnerability that accompanies joy is an invitation to practice gratitude, to acknowledge how truly grateful we are for the person, the beauty, the connection, or simply the moment before us.

Gratitude, therefore, emerged from the data as the antidote to foreboding joy. In fact, every participant who spoke about the ability to stay open to joy talked about the importance of practicing gratitude. This pattern of association was so thoroughly prevalent in the data that I made a commitment as a researcher not to talk about joy without talking about gratitude.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 123

Different Kinds of Powers

November 17th, 2014

We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of available power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted. Introverts are offered keys to private gardens full of riches.

— Susan Cain, Quiet, p. 266

Healing Shame

November 16th, 2014

If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. Self-compassion is also critically important, but because shame is a social concept — it happens between people — it also heals best between people. A social wound needs a social balm, and empathy is that balm. Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect, and experience empathy.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 75

Why Are We Here?

November 14th, 2014

Each of the givens or conditions of existence evokes a question about our destiny. Are we here to get our way or to dance with the flow of life? Are we here to make sure everything goes according to our plans or to trust the surprises and synchronicities that lead us to new vistas? Are we here to make sure we get a fair deal or are we here to be upright and loving? Are we here to avoid pain or to deal with it, grow from it, and learn to be compassionate through it? Are we here to be loyally loved by everyone or to love with all our might?

— David Richo, The Five Things We Cannot Change . . ., p. xiv

The Right Lighting

November 11th, 2014

The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.

— Susan Cain, Quiet, p. 264