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on June 25, 2013
Last week I was sitting outside a coffee shop reading a book on my kindle when a youngish guy walked by carrying a coffee and a computer, looking for a place to sit.

Since all of the tables were occupied and he was looking a bit displaced, I offered him a seat at my table. Relieved, he sat down and expressed his gratitude. I promptly went back to my reading but I could feel his eyes boring into me as I anticipated the dreaded question.

"What are you reading?" he finally blurted.

Now I know this is neither a profound nor earth-shattering inquiry but there were two problems at hand here.

One, I'm terrible at summarizing books. Just awful. (Which you're about to discover.) There's just something about the vast amount of information that I'm pressured to wrap into one or two sentences that completely overwhelms and paralyzes me.

And two, I was reading a book about shame and vulnerability. Which ironically, I was ashamed to admit for fear of being vulnerable. Clearly, I had just started reading the book.

Part of me was tempted to lie to youngish guy by replying, "oh, it's just some silly novel."

But then it occurred to me how shameful it would be to lie about reading a book about shame and vulnerability instead of just being vulnerable. Besides, as I'm sure it's obvious--I could use the practice.

"I'm reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. It's about shame and vulnerability and how shame can truly only dissipate by allowing yourself to be vulnerable", I quickly blurted.

Allowing myself to be vulnerable led Patrick and I into a conversation for the next hour. Patrick, if you're reading this, c'était une joie pour vous rencontrer. (If this is wrong I blame Google translate.)

This moment of unabashed vulnerability with Patrick was the beginning of a major shift in my life. And I have Daring Greatly to thank for that.*

I've always been one to be honest and open but Brene Brown's writing in Daring Greatly takes openness to another level.

She reinforces what I've known all along but been afraid of admitting--that vulnerability leads to happiness. Or as Brown calls it, "wholeheartedness".

And I, and maybe you too, could damn well use some wholeheartedness in my life.

We're living in a culture of `never enough'. I'm certainly feeling it. Are you? I never work hard enough, I don't help others enough, I'm not successful enough, I don't eat healthy enough... and on and on.

These thoughts of `never enough' turn into feelings of shame and fear. How do we combat shame and fear? By being vulnerable and expressing gratitude, according to Brené Brown. And now, according to me.

Following Brene's advice and expertise garnered through her research and life stories, truly does work.

It was the reading of Daring Greatly that prompted me to finally divulge my long kept secret of my history with an eating disorder; which wound up being my highest trafficked blog post of all time. As Brown explains, we're drawn to other's vulnerability but repelled by our own.

Are you living with shame? Do you always feel an underlying itch of `never enough'? Do you find yourself disconnecting from people you love? If any of these questions ring true then I hope you'll read this book for yourself. Even if they don't ring true, read this book. It truly is a game changer.

Buy It Right. This. Minute. Sit your butt down for an hour, and start reading. I promise you won't want to stop. I promise.Then come back to me and practice your newfound vulnerability. I'll appreciate and love every drop of the real you. And eventually, you will too. That's the truth.

[...]
*If you'll note the vulnerability here in that I'm attempting to review a book, despite my fear of reviewing books.
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on September 11, 2012
"Vulnerability is not weakness," writes Brown. In fact, "Vulnerability is the the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences." Without vulnerability, there can be no love, there can be no achievement, there can be no greatness. Unfortunately, instead of developing skills of vulnerability, we too frequently develop armoring techniques. We spend all our energy avoiding getting hurt, avoiding shame. But there's no surer way to not feel loved, not feel connected, not be fulfilled, than to practice the avoidance of vulnerability.

Brown is a vulnerability researcher. She sees vulnerability as the prerequisite to living what she calls the "Wholehearted life." The Wholehearted life is one of deep attachment to others, our environment, and our work. It's a life of being "really there," of being willing to fail. No one can avoid being actually vulnerable. We all are vulnerable every moment of our lives -- though some times more than others. But if we run from it, we lose.

Here's how she breaks it down:

1. Love and belonging is an irreducible need. We all need it.
2. Those who feel a deep sense of love and belonging... feel loveable. They believe they are worthy of being loved.
3. A strong belief in our worthiness doesn't just happen. It must be cultivated.
4. The main concern of Wholehearted men and women is living a life defined by courage, compassion, and connection.
3. The Wholehearted identify vulnerability as the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection. The willingness to be vulnerable is the single most important factor shared among the Wholehearted.

It comes down to this: If we don't embrace vulnerability, we are destined to live a lonely, detached, unfulfilling life. But if we learn to embrace it in the right way, we can live a life of joy and connection. The crux is to understand that we are worthy of love. From the standpoint of this sense of worthiness, we are then able to open ourselves to one another and to the work that is before us.

A look at the table of contents gives a clearer picture of the argument of Daring Greatly:

- What It Means to Dare Greatly
- Introduction: My Adventures in the Arena
1. Scarcity: Looking Inside Our Culture of "Never Enough"
2. Debunking the Vulnerability Myths
3. Understanding and Combatting Shame
4. The Vulnerability Armory
5. Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide
6. Disruptive Engagement: Daring to Rehumanize Education and Work
7. Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to Be the Adults We Want Our Children to Be
- Final Thoughts
- Appendix -- Trust in Emergence: Grounded Theory and My Research Process
- Practicing Gratitude

Daring Greatly doesn't focus on the area of love and relationships, but it offers invaluable tools for deepening our love partnerships. For going deeper into vulnerability in the context of a romantic relationship, check out The Couple's Survival Workbook: What You Can Do To Reconnect With Your Partner and Make Your Marriage Work by Olsen and Stephens. More generally, if you're interested in Browne's concept of Wholehearted living -- the contextual framework of Daring Greatly -- check out The Gifts of Imperfection.

Daring Greatly is highly recommended as a primer for those who wish to step into the place they truly belong -- it's a place prepared for each person, but it has to be worked for. It's not altogether easy, but it's deeply relieving to understand that this essential skill is not about simply stepping out under a hail of deadly arrows. It's about leaving behind lonely and fearful self-interest, having courage that deeper connection eagerly awaits us.
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on January 30, 2016
Thank you, Brene, for your research and for sharing your findings with the world. This book is important and this book is for everyone.

She interviewed people from a different angle than our culture is used to. This book is full of ideas I'd never thought of before, but are so relatable and so right. Her main approach is that success and perfection are not our goal- our goal is to live whole-heartedly. To dare greatly. To feel worthiness and human connection. To lean into the hard, understanding that it happens. And it's okay that hard happens. Because if we can be open to discomfort, that's how we'll be open to joy too.

It's impossible to summarize the brilliance of this book in a review. Go read it.
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on May 28, 2014
I saw Brene Brown TED talks and felt curious. I bought the book ‘The gift of imperfection’ first .This book laid the basics of the approach to living the wholehearted life.
‘Daring greatly’ is adding the experience and the additional time perspective, a kind of fine tuning to a “machine” that already works.
Reading this book, contemplating on how I do things, what points (or guiding posts as Brene Brown calls them) I need to take in consideration that I missed so far, shift my life to a new gear.
It opened my eyes to my reality in a way that I understood (and keep learning) what comes between me and my happiness. When I say comes between me and happiness I mean what I put between and my happiness that prevent me to fully get there.
Everyone deserves to be happy and for that we need to know to ask ourselves the right questions and be honest with ourselves.
Now that I know what it is, I need to learn to overcome it. After so many years of becoming a habit, to get rid of that habit requires hard work.
Reading the book is like having a heart to heart conversation with someone who gets it, someone who made the journey and has a great sense of humor a long side a great knowledge.
Find yourself and be amazed.
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on July 3, 2013
The only way I can possibly have a truly happy well-adjusted family is to take care of myself first. Being happy with yourself and loving the person you are, will enable you to be the best you can be at everything else you do. That means you’ve got to stop setting such outrageous expectations and stop succumbing to the ones others set for you. Look at the possibilities and accomplishments you already have made and achieved.
It seems as though we as parents have so many expectations put on us that it makes it nearly impossible to be completely happy and succeed at our most important role. Perhaps it’s because we are not happy with who we are first. It goes back to something I’ve believed and reiterated time and time again. If you don’t have it to begin with, you can’t share it. If you have no happiness within you, how can you possibly bring it to anyone else? If you don’t love who you are, how can love someone else. If you don’t believe in you, how will you believe in your children or your spouse or anyone else?
Dare to know that you are great! And that you can bring greatness to others.
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on October 24, 2017
I loved this book!
If you want to step up in some area of your life, or have decided you do want to be seen, or if you are facing a challenge, Brene Brown's book about having the courage to be vulnerable and real will help you! So many people appear strong and sorted but actually it's not true. Read this book and you too will be able to Dare Greatly. I have just stepped up in an area of my life that I found so difficult ( the fear of rejection was huge) and I am so happy to have had the courage to do that from reading this book.
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on August 8, 2017
This a great book that challenges the reader to really face what it means to be vulnerable and live differently. It challenges us to face pain and entrust ourselves to others. I highly recommend this book.
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on May 24, 2013
The author Brene Brown was introduced to me through my therapist who told me about her TED TALK. I could relate from the get go. I then was told it would benefit me to read her book The Gifts of Imperfection. I was finally reading all the things I could never quite put into words. Brene was able to speak simply and on a level that I could relate. I read all her books and ordered five extra ones of Daring Greatly to give to all my friends in recovery. I made some copies of the parenting manifesto and gave those out as well to those who have young children.I am in AA and these books have been a much needed supplement for me and to my recovery. It doesn't matter who you are young, old, male, female, addicted or not. I highly recommend reading this book! It has changed my life for the better and I am sure it could help many others along the way. Thank you Brene!!
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on May 11, 2015
This is a really good book. This book will cause you to think through the ideas of shame and vulnerability in a way that you never experienced. The book is inspiring, and motivational. It is a good book to cause you to think self reflectively. It will help you to think through how you conduct yourself, especially about the role of shaming in preaching and in speech. The book will amaze you at the level of shame within our culture. There are major shame paradigms in this world, and these focal points influence much of what people do. You will also learn about how to manage shame within your own life too. Shame can influence you deeply, and can have influence over you. People process life through a view of shame. This can cause you to hold back in your leadership and in your marriage, etc. This is where vulnerability comes in too. People who have a deep sense of happiness, take the risk of being vulnerable, but with that risk, there is the possibility of being shamed for sharing. So far this year, this was probably the best book I read, and would be up there at the top of my list. It caused me to really think through life and through interacting with people.

Here are a few quotes. "Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering." "If you roughly divide the men and women I’ve interviewed into two groups— those who feel a deep sense of love and belonging, and those who struggle for it—there’s only one variable that separates the groups: 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." This quote is especially powerful for churches. "Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare ourselves and our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed: “Remember when…? Those were the days…”

Read this book, it is great, insightful, and fun to read. I highly recommend it.
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on June 1, 2013
Hundreds of self help books come across my desk and they are each as uninspiring as the next. Brene Brown's book is entirely different, because she is not telling you what to do, she's simply revealing the findings of her hundreds if not thousands of interviews with people who experience the effects of vulnerability and shame. Though these are two of the most unacknowledged feelings, they have dire effects on our behaviour patterns and relationships. Every page had me stopping and thinking about how this or that finding mirrored my own experience. This book doesn't brow beat, nor is it a self indulgent exploration of victimhood, rather it is a journey of discovery, it is respectful of the reader rather than patronising, and Brene herself is also disclosing and refreshingly relaxed and normal and with a Texan humour that's just inviting enough without being like a 'shtick' that's so practised it turns you off. Quite the opposite. She makes me want to go out and get to know some more Texans. But being in Australia that's a challenge... Rachael
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