I was at the TEDxKC conference a couple of weeks ago and there was a speaker there, Brene’ Brown, whose message I haven’t stopped thinking about. I guess that’s the point of these conferences…to get us to think, and ultimately expand our outlook.
The topic of this particular event was “What Does the World Need Now”. A big shout out to Mike Lundgren at VML for curating such an amazing event!!! We heard about a new way of teaching, a compass for enhancing our innovative intuition, thoughts on not just clean water, but the human sewage problem that gets (pun intended) flushed from our minds by our denial instinct. The conference was sprinkled with inspirational performances by multi-media performance art group, Quixotic which did nothing less than enhance the mind to possibilities beyond our normal scope.
Brene’ Brown’s message was that we needed to get more comfortable with vulnerability. Huh? Really? I was intrigued. She said we are losing our tolerance for vulnerability, that our society has labeled it a weakness to show emotion, or to question ourselves, or to fail in front of our peers. The long-term effect of this, she says, is that America is comfortably numb – just like Pink Floyd meant in their song by the same name. How does this effect us in the long term in a negative way? Well, we all settle for disappointing lives, less than average lives, status quo. We don’t rock the boat. This is a BIG PROBLEM my friends!
This is a time, not unlike other times in our history, where we need to be taking chances, unafraid to fail and pull ourselves up to start again. We need to be thinking OUTSIDE of the box, because staying inside the box, inside the lines, following instead of leading will be the demise of our great country. It stifles innovation and creativity. It kills our spirit. No one wants to be average. Not to mention that now we need people to be innovative to solve our big messes and issues that effect us these days (need I mention them ~ health care, climate change, poverty, education system, corruption, dependency on oil, etc., etc.) We need to be AWAKE and innovative in our thinking, not burying out heads, staying under the radar.
She also said that in order for us to accept this less than optimal state of being, we typically get busy. We’re great at multi-tasking. Technology has helped us get there, too. We stay so busy that the truth of our pitiful lives can’t catch up to us. We live the lie because it’s easier to live disappointed than to FEEL disappointed. Ach! NO! We must feel our feelings folks!
Here’s the real truth about numbing out. When you numb out (either with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex, chocolate, you name it) to the bad feelings, those feelings of inadequacy, feelings of boredom, hopelessness, etc. ~ guess what? You are also numbing out the GOOD feelings. You cannot choose which emotion to numb. If you numb, you numb – period. You can no longer experience joy, or happiness, or love, or ecstasy. You can no longer feel. So, it’s no way to live in my book.
So, I agree with Brene’ – this is an American epidemic! And, I for one will pledge to fall flat on my face in public, show you my weaknesses, share my disappointments and failures ANY DAY, over choosing an average life. Are you with me?