Be vulnerable so you can be happy

Last month I wrote about time perspective, a great book on time and how our attitude towards it can impact our experience, decisions, and happiness.

I've been feeling more stressed out and concerned than I would like to. In a way, it seems part of becoming an adult: living by myself, getting a car, traveling for over a month a year, etc. all while trying to save as much money as possible to make a difference with someday. As this year goes on, I would love to shift my perspective a bit more towards the present. It's truly interesting to notice what I do and be so aware—sometimes, too aware. There is something intimidating about an unusually high amount of self-awareness. Now that is present oriented.

I think the most important thing that I could do—and you might consider as well—is to feel more. As Brené says in her talks, we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It breeds creativity, love, courage, and ultimately happiness. Mark Suster talks about the Haimish line and how important it is to let ourselves feel by connecting.

I can't stress enough how important it is to let oneself feel. I think back to my high school years. They were some of the happiest years of my life. Why? Because I was so present, I had so many close friends, and I felt safe and intellectually stimulated in a highly connected network. Never since has my life been that way. I often think back to that time and ask myself why it was so great back then and not since: is that me? Is that moving to a new country? Why is it that things have never been the same since?

The answer is going to sound obvious.

(Western) Adulthood.

I happened to move at the time when college starts, when people are busier, and we all become more and more burdened by the pragmatic aspects of life: career, what will I do? College, what should I study? Money? My individual personality? My values?

Globalization means immigration, of people and culture. And it's happening so fast, all over the world. Everything is faster. And in all that chaos, individuality has taken a new role.

I live in San Francisco, probably one of the friendliest cities in the US for almost all cultures. Still, dominated by American values. Western values. Not so openly vulnerable, and very proud. It's not a rare thing for me to bring up something shameful, wrong, or otherwise looked down upon, and be confronted with ignorance. And it's truly sad. What's even sadder is that I've picked up some of this attitude.

As Brené and Zimbardo both point out, we need to feel. And if we don't get that feeling from sharing in vulnerability and shame together, as friends, we will seek it out through violence or drugs. My Romanian friends visiting the US often say that, in Romania, they would never be afraid of someone shooting them. Here, they would. And, talking about San Francisco or Washington (D.C.), I'm paraphrasing, "there are crazy people everywhere. But the ones here are really scary."

So let yourself be vulnerable. Let yourself feel. I really hope there is a change coming in the West. To a happier, more peaceful world. The optimist in me thinks we can do it.

We can create a better world.

To create is to make something that has never existed before. There is nothing more vulnerable than that.

—Brené Brown