People who have a high level of wellbeing struggle with all of the same issues as the rest of us.
What distinguishes these women and men is that they got past being plagued by their imperfections.
In “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown shares her research revealing 5 steps that people follow to create wholehearted happiness for themselves.
Living a happy life, Brown writes, “is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.’”
Step No. 1 is recognizing that the most important part of life is feeling loved and having a sense of belonging. Creating connections to other people is what gives our lives purpose and meaning. Brown found that lacking loving connections is at the core of people’s suffering.
Valuing love above all else enables us to devote an appropriate amount of time and energy on creating positive connections to other people. If we commit to putting love and belonging as most important in our life, then we make that our top priority. Not work. Not appearances. Not possessions. Not success. Not substances. When loving connections are foremost in our mind, we’re constantly asking: What could I do to have a positive interaction with my spouse…child…coworker…friend?
Step No. 2 is feeling worthy. That belief differentiates people who experience love and belonging from those who don’t. People who feel loved and generate loving connections with others share one simple belief: I am worthy of being loved and I belong in a loving relationship.
Step No. 3 is getting up when you’ve been knocked down. Happy people have developed 10 practices that help them overcome their struggles, defeats, and traumas. They actively work on reframing their negative thoughts that are keeping them stuck in unhappiness. They shift their thinking from:
- Dwelling other people’s judgments to being authentic
- Perfectionistic ruminating to self-compassion
- Wanting to numb their pain to pursuing solutions
- Fearing not having enough to appreciating what they do have
- Needing certainty to cultivating faith in the future
- Comparing themselves to others to being creative
- Viewing long hours as a status symbol to valuing play
- Worrying incessantly to creating calm
- Feeling dissatisfied at work to making meaningful contributions
- Needing to be in control to laughing and letting go
Step No. 4 is cultivating courage, compassion, and connection as your most important character strengths. Just as people build their physical strength by regularly working out, high-functioning people routinely find opportunities to exercise these 3 personal strengths. When responding to problems, they make conscious decisions to deploy these 3 strengths:
- What would it look like if I were to show courage in this situation?
- How can I express compassion to someone I see struggling?
- What do I need to do to create a positive connection with the person I’m with right now?
Step No. 5 is identifying vulnerability as the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection. This is the most challenging step, according to Brown. However, the single clearest value shared by the men and women she studied is that they show up and – in front of critics and supporters alike – make the effort to achieve a positive outcome.
Hence the name of Brown’s book – “Daring Greatly.” We often know what we would like to accomplish, but stepping into plain view and trying to do something great requires that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. In order to be able to dare greatly we have to envision where we want to go, assess where we are now, and understand what challenges we’ll be facing. And when we stumble we must summon our courage and seek help from our connections to keep moving.
Write down your plan for Daring Greatly:
Step 1: I’ll connect with someone I love today by…
Step 2: I’ll remind myself that I’m worthy of being loved because I’m…
Step 3: I’ll be aware of my negative thinking when I try to…
I’ll change my mindset to start thinking…
Step 4: I’ll use my courage or compassion or connecting strength today by…
Step 5: I’ll be vulnerable to failing, but in spite of that I will…