wishing you love and light

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m signing off for the next couple of weeks to spend time with my family and friends. My plan is to rest, play, and practice a lot of gratitude. 

Nothing has been a greater gift to me than the three lessons I learned about joy and light from people I’ve interviewed who have spent time in sorrow and darkness. Even before Sandy Hook I was reflecting on these learnings as a way to stay centered during the holidays. They’re from Daring Greatly (p. 125). They feel very relevant today.  

1. Joy comes to us in moments—ordinary moments.

We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary. Scarcity culture may keep us afraid of living small, ordinary lives but when you talk to people who have survived great losses it is clear that the most profound joy we experience is in those small moments that are so easy to overlook.  

My intention: I’m going to slow down enough to recognize the joy in these moments. 

2. Practice gratitude for what we have.

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 your healthy parents or your great relationship. Be grateful and share your gratitude with others. 

One quote that I heard over and over was simply: “When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.”

My intention: To let the people I love know how grateful I am to have them in my life. I’m also joining the #26Acts movement started by Ann Curry. 26 random acts of kindness to honor the lives lost in Newton. 

3. Don’t squander joy.

We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into “I better not let my guard down and feel too happy – that’s inviting disaster” 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.

My intention: To lean into joy. To remember that traumatizing myself with too much news or letting my imagination run wild doesn’t create empathy – it generates fear and blame. I’ll try to remember that joy requires vulnerability and that if I want more joy (and I do) I need to stay openhearted. 

I’m wishing all of you love and light this holiday season. Thank you for being a part of our wholehearted community. Thank you for sharing yourselves, your stories, and your light with us. I am grateful. 

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  1. Pingback: Foreboding Joy | Inlets of Grace

  2. Nikki

    Have I missed the drawing for the books? My letter would be C for Creativity! I have just been introduced to you… I love the little bit I've read in your blog regarding shame vs guilt. Growing up in a rural, small-town, dysfunctional, religious, don't ask/don't tell household with a Mother who labeled and shamed, I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. Thanks so much for putting your good vibes out there. Much Love, Nikki

  3. I can't choose between these two: "I" is for Imagine (as in Imagine a world where all children are taught shame resilience) and "I" is for Illusion (as in Everything is an illusion. Cosequently, no one can shame you without your cooperation).

  4. J is for Joy!!!

    G is for Gratitude!!

    Thank you Brene'!!

  5. Brooke

    Brene,

    I was able to hear you speak in Austin this past October, and I wanted to share how deeply your words and message have impacted me. A very great man always encouraged me to live in the arena, but it seemed that the more successful I became, the less courage I had. You were my wakeup call. You have also encouraged me write again, and for that, I will always be grateful. Many thanks!

  6. Reading your words this year has helped me face up to some demons. I'm looking forward to 2013!

  7. Dear Brene,

    I feel like I've known you for such a long time, girlfriend!

    You have touched my life in more ways than you could possibly know. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your work and your words, and the guidance you help me with every day of my life. Last night, I was reading a section from Daring Greatly to my husband, as we are struggling deeply as a family dealing with our teen sons, and particularly with our oldest son, 16, struggling with addiction. He's been in treatment and away from home for 10 months. We are trying to rebuild our lives while he is away rebuilding his. My hub interrupted my reading, and asked me, "How come you are reading this? Where did you find out about her?" (Ok, I read A LOT of self help books!) I explained I learned of you while taking a grow my business course by Kelly Rae Roberts, and that your philosophies have touched every aspect of my life. He listened raptly as I read chapter after chapter on vulnerability and shame (more than he normally ever has patience for, Lol!) your words have encouraged both of us to step out of our shame boxes, first me, and he is following along very nicely. I have also found my voice to talk about my struggles, and have started a new blog as we forge a brave new year. I call my blog "The Mom in the Arena" and I have you to thank for helping me with this, and with finding my way out of the deep pit of shame, blame, and vulnerability which has held me hostage for a very long time.

    So, thank you once again, and here's to a beautiful new year, as we wash the slate of wrongs right, and dare greatly to start a new year with hope in our hearts.

    With love always,
    Val Hebert

  8. patti

    I so needed these words tonight on this eve of so many expectations to be extraordinary. Thank you Brene for your ever constant reminder that the small and ordinary are where joy and peace can be found in abundance. I return to your book(s) when I'm in my shame spaces, and they always open the door wide enough to see my own light. Happy new year Brene, and thank you.

  9. Natasha

    BGG – That quote means that if you celebrate what you have, it honors what someone else has lost.
    Example: If you show love and gratitude for your children, it honors the child I lost.
    (I have not lost a child, but that's the example Brene used reg. Sandy Hook).

    Celebrating life, honors those who have lost life.

  10. Carolyn

    Merry Everything and Happy Always!!!!!

  11. Steve

    Brene..

    I first heard about you through a friend. Boy! Do I have good friends or what! 🙂

    Thankyou for the insights, for your obvious love of people and the real gift of attracting other good people to respond to your blogs, and books and videos.

    God bless the people who make a difference.

    Steve in Indianapolis