“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown

Subtitle: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

This book recapitulates Brene Brown’s previous books The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) and adds material on vulnerability and worthiness as it applies to community, work, and parenting. This book feels more complete and at the same time less academic than the prior books. Her research supports her points rather than distancing from them.

Those who feel lovable, who love, and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging. They don’t have better or easier lives, they don’t have fewer struggles with addiction or depression, and they haven’t survived fewer traumas or bankruptcies or divorces. (emphasis in the original)

The opposite of scarcity is enough, and we are already enough. Wholehearted living includes showing up and being vulnerable. Vulnerability is not weakness. There is no “get out of vulnerability free” card. Vulnerability is not the same as letting it all hang out.

The Viking-or-Victim worldview divides the world into winners and losers, and has very little room for vulnerability. The worldview is useful in life-threatening or traumatic situations, but prevents connection when the emergency is over.

The book touches on cruelty, how not to be cruel, and how to respond to cruelty. Our culture of narcissism is fed by shaming each other and avoiding vulnerability. As more of us become willing to be vulnerable and authentic, the hope is that bullying will diminish. I wish there were a more concrete, powerful answer.

The book encourages us to dare greatly and be vulnerable despite the fear and shame that arises. Vulnerability is the gateway to joy.

Available at Powell’s Books.

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