Happiness, Pumpkins & Brené Brown

October 22, 2017

Every October I put off getting pumpkins until I can absolutely no longer get away with answering my children's relentless requests with "yes, pretty soon." In all honesty I dislike bringing pumpkins home. And not because I dislike pumpkins either.  In fact, I actually love pumpkins. I love the way they look, especially the warty imperfect ones. I love pumpkin seeds and pumpkin spice. I even love going to pick them out at the pumpkin patch. The reason I drag my feet in bringing pumpkins home is because if you give a kid a pumpkin, she'll want to carve it. And those of you who have carved a pumpkin with a child know how the rest of this story goes.


So. Much. Mess.



Because in order to get that pumpkin turned into a perfectly illuminated masterpiece--for it to realize its full potential and purpose (at least in the eyes of my children)--it must be cut open and scraped clean on the inside and then carefully carved. And it seems the tools we have are never sharp enough or small enough to make those intricate cuts. The sticky raw flesh and seeds end up all over the floor, and at least one child decides that it is the best idea ever to suddenly become interested in abstract art and wildly smear the guts across the table. Yet, after the mess is cleaned up. After the hard work is finished. After all the "stuff" that was getting in the way inside the pumpkin has been removed, then (and only then) the pumpkin can fulfill its purpose at our home--sitting on our front step, lighting up the October night with its spooky or silly mug.


If you're still with me and are wondering what any of this has to do with happiness or Brené Brown, I'd love to elaborate. I've been doing some vision and purpose work as part of a business systems development process we are participating in. I've also been reading one of Brown's books, The Gifts of Imperfection. Anytime I'm working through multiple things simultaneously I love to connect dots and find common themes, and this current experience has provided much overlap.


When we first created BE WELLness, we created the tag Healthy, Happy, Pure & Balanced with the vision of seeing our company as an umbrella for holistic health services and provisions in North Iowa--a company that would truly help each customer live a more healthy, happy, pure and balanced life as a result of our support. I got thinking more about happiness as a result of that reflection. Interestingly enough I had also just started a chapter of Brown's book titled "Things That Get in the Way." Page 35 mentions something profound that I can't stop thinking about:


"We don't change, we don't grow, and we don't move forward without the work." (Remember the pumpkins?) "If we really want to live a joyful, connected, and meaningful life, we must talk about the things that get in the way."


She goes on to suggest that "how to" instructions are a "seductive shortcut" and states that although we have more access to information, books and good science than ever before, we are "struggling like never before." Her reason as to why....because we don't talk about "the things that get in the way of doing what we know is best for us, our children, our families, our organizations, and our communities." Likewise, the biggest barrier stopping any one of us from living a healthy, happy, pure & balanced life is that we rarely talk about the things that get in the way of doing what we know is best. While Brown is specifically talking about shame as the thing that gets in the way, there are any number of things that keep us stuck where we are, that keep us from moving towards what we know is best for us. So what's the solution? The hard work. We have to be willing to dig deep and clean out the stuff that doesn't belong in order to move towards that healthier, happier, more pure & balanced version of ourselves. It might be messy. It might be a temporarily sticky situation. There will likely be some pain or struggle involved. But it will be worth it. And those of us connected through BE WELLness want you to know that wherever you are at in your personal wellness journey, you have an ally in your corner. We consider it a great honor and responsibility to be a health and wellness support system here in North Iowa. It is our greatest desire to bring wellness within reach.


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