Move over Beyoncé, there’s a new Queen B in town, and her name is Brené. If you haven’t heard of Brene Brown then you have either been hiding out under a rock or you have heard of her, you just didn’t know it. She is the mastermind behind one of the most-watched TEd talks, The Power of Vulnerability. But this 15 minute speech is just teenciest snippet into Brené’s work on shame, vulnerability and whole-heartedness.
I could write a whole post just describing the works of Brené Brown but if I’ve intrigued you at all then just go and read one of her books (seriously, go do it). But I want to talk a little bit about something I came across in “The Gifts of Imperfections”.
Brené describes sitting down with her husband and writing a list of all the things they need to fit into their schedules in order to feel like their family is doing well and succeeding. Things like exercising, eating well, camping, getting outdoors, catching up with friends and so on. They then compare this to their list of goals; things that they are striving for professionally. Strangely enough, these two lists don’t have a lot in common.
Brené and her husband realise that they need to re-evaluate how they structure their lives, making sure that they re scheduling in time for the things that actually make them happy. It sounds simple right? It certainly got me thinking. I’ve heard of post-achievement depression before which occurs when you reach a goal only to experience an anticlimactic, hollow feeling because reaching it didn’t make you happy in the way you thought it would.
What Brené suggests is being aware of what it is that makes you happy in an uncomplicated way. It’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t set professional goals, but it’s acknowledging that you shouldn’t rely on external “achievement” for your happiness. A lot of research surrounding what happiness is and what conditions create ‘happy’ people, has found that individual circumstances have little impact on whether a person considers themselves to be happy. Basically anyone, anywhere can be happy with what they have, as long as they have meaningful connections with other people.
I’m summarising quite a bit here, but my point is that we grow up with a lot of messages about what it means to be successful. But if you’re not happy before you get that pay rise or buy that house, you probably aren’t going to be afterwards. Now that may sound a bit scary in a way, but it should be liberating. I know for me, feeling healthy and energetic has a big part to play in my overall happiness so that is what I am going to focus on whilst I have no work to distract me from how I’m feeling.
I used a mood tracker app for a few months which asks you to enter in what you did that day and what your overall mood is. I noticed a pattern for me that I gave the highest ratings to days where I had exercised, spent time with friends and had good food. That’s not really much to ask for is it? I challenge you to make a list of things that make you feel purposeful and content and see if you can find ways to integrate them into your routine as often as you can. Keep your ambition but don’t lose sight of what really makes you tick. Oh and read a Brené Brown book or watch her speak, I dare you.
Peace and love badasses