Sunday Blog 10 – 31st October 2021

I was on the road this weekend, and my Podcast app was scrolling through to whatever was next on the playlist. It landed on a re-run of an episode I had listened to some time ago – Brene Brown’s first interview with Oprah Winfrey. As the episode unfolded again, several times I almost pulled over to write down some notes as I was listening. I had to go back later that evening for another run-through. If you are not familiar with Brene Brown, she is an American research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Her TEDx talk from 2010 catapulted her to fame.

In the many, many interviews Brene has done with research participants over two decades, she gleans insights, very often counter-intuitive, about humans and how we work. Through careful sifting and theming of research stories, she uncovers wisdom. She has then shared in her books and podcasts as practical, actionable strategies for us to use every day. For example, empathy is a teachable skill. Having difficult conversations, teachable skill. Being authentic – not an innate characteristic at all, but a teachable skill we choose every day, or every hour of every day.

The insight that got me rewinding the tape later to listen again, was that it is not the big moments, it’s the small, everyday moments that we miss when someone we love is gone. She summarised and riffed on the many stories she has heard through her research:

“I miss hearing the screen door slam and knowing my husband’s home from work.”

“I miss hearing my kids fighting in the backyard.”

“I miss the way my wife sets the table”

And Brene reminds us “these are the moments that are in front of us every day and we can stop and say “God, I’m grateful for this.”

She shared the story of a man whose wife of 40 years died in a car accident. He had always been the kind of man who never got too excited about anything – no highs but no real lows either. The moment he realised he’d lost his wife he said, “I should have leaned harder into those moments of joy, because not leaning into them hasn’t protected me from what I’m feeling now.”

The cultivation of gratitude and joy is the way home, Brene says. And it’s right under our noses, hidden in plain sight of our everyday lives.

So no more nit-picking for me, or not getting too excited in case I come across as not cool.

It’s gratitude and joy for the everyday moments for me all the way.

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