The Best Book by Brenè Brown Is Also a Financial Literacy Hidden Gem
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By now, almost everyone knows who Brenè Brown is. She is the award-winning psychologist and podcaster with viral TED talks and a Netflix special. But before she was known for those accomplishments, Brown was a best-selling author. She has consistently put out great titles on shame, guilt, vulnerability, and the power of empathy and connection. But the best book by Brenè Brown, in my opinion, is Daring Greatly.
In Daring Greatly, Brown focuses on shame and vulnerability. And in doing so, I believe Brown unwittingly has also created an excellent financial literacy resource. As a financial literacy advocate, I’m glad Daring Greatly is one of the most popular books by Brené Brown.
My Daring Greatly Book Review
Daring Greatly Book Summary
The goal of Daring Greatly is to define what keeps us from living what Brown calls a “wholehearted life.” The book starts by perfectly articulating the cultural norms that have pushed away from the feeling of vulnerability. Next, the book shows that it is only in the moments of vulnerability that we can have true joy, happiness, and growth. Brown then explains the relationship between shame and vulnerability and how we all have shame, “the intensely painful feeling of or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” What makes this the best book by Brené Brown is that she then gives you so many tools to help you combat shame. Brown provides resources to clearly explain the different ways people avoid being vulnerable, what she calls the “Vulnerability Armory,” and what practices you need to overcome them.
She closes out the book by talking about how disengagement from our various communities is also a way that we put up shields to keep from feeling vulnerable. And lastly, she has an entire section dedicated to parenting and how to raise children who “dare greatly.” In other words, children understand and manage shame healthily and productively. While also embracing the vulnerable to live a “wholehearted life.”
She ends the paperback version of the book by providing a worksheet to help you walk through each concept she raises.
My Analysis of Daring Greatly
This book is phenomenal. Who dedicates a whole book to shame and vulnerability? Luckily for us, Brown did. Brené Brown sheds light on those two topics so we can live more fulfilling lives. This book was particularly meaningful to me since I once felt so much shame about my debts.
Brown lays it out perfectly, giving you the rationale for why you should be reading about shame and vulnerability right from the start. She demonstrates that if you want to live your best life, you must master how you deal with shame and vulnerability. In addition, Brown makes the book so much more personal by giving direct quotes from everyday people. It isn’t hard to see yourself in her examples since she is so robust in what she covers.
Brown masterfully gives you a complete set of tools to recognize what may be holding you back and how to address them.
I do wish she would have spent more time talking about addressing shame and money specifically, but since Brown did not write the book to be just about money, I cannot blame her for that. With that said, it is not hard to make the connection to money, work, career, and achievement in this book. So it will be up to the reader to see the link and address those thoughts and feelings.
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to live a life of financial wellness, as it will help you overcome many of the roadblocks that might be keeping you from making financial decisions that are in the best interest of you and your family.
Example of Daring Greatly’s Foreboding Joy in My Life
Before reading the book, I would never have considered that if you want to experience joy, you need to be vulnerable, you need to accept that happiness is fleeting, and that to have pleasure, you need to live with pain. I have a hard time with that. Those little disaster readiness plans I make in my head, “what if the car drives off this bridge, with the kids inside” that take me out of the moment of joy on a family road trip, is how I’ve dealt with the feeling of vulnerability.
Brown describes that as Foreboding Joy, and it hit me hard. Not long after reading that section, I experienced it viscerally while vacationing in Florida. My son and I took a walk on the beach on our first night there, and there is no other way to describe his feeling except pure joy. He was smiling, laughing, jumping, and running on the beach and in the waves.
As I watched my son, I had this feeling take hold, “What happens if he gets pulled out by the sea?” He was in the shallows, the waves were small, and I was not that far from him. But still, fear took over. I told him, “don’t go too far,” and ruined everything, his joy vanished, and he started to worry. I traded our happiness for fear.
How I’ve Used Daring Greatly to Parent
My big takeaway from the parenting section is that there is a big difference between saying “you lied” versus “you are a liar.” The former was a choice; the latter is a condemnation of the person. Where is the redemption when a child is called a liar? Especially if they believe they are a liar. They have been labeled something less than. But if I say they lied, they can choose to do something different in the future and redeem themselves. A lie causes guilt. Being seen as a liar causes shame. Shame causes pain and makes the child feel less worthy of love and belonging.
Why I Need this to be the Most Popular Book by Brené Brown
Being Vulnerable, Shame, and Financial Literacy
To get comfortable with your money, you must be honest with yourself. There is likely a personal reason you are not doing what you think you should be doing with your money. Whether it is spending too much, or feeling like spending is evil, to get comfortable and truly comfortable with your money and how you use it, you must first have a good relationship with yourself.
Having a better relationship with your money may require having an uncomfortable conversation with your partner or yourself. It was only after reading this book that I could take the shame and anxiety that I felt about my debt problems and deal with them in a healthy way. Only after reading this book did I feel like I had the strength to start creating resources to help people who may have been in my shoes.
In my book Your Kid’s Their Money, I say I wrote the book to help the reader let go of shame and self-doubt. But to let go, you first need to acknowledge it. And Dearly Greatly give you the tools to do the hard work of looking inside and accepting yourself. If you have money problems, it will only be when you are willing to be vulnerable, acknowledge you have a problem and seek and let people help you that you will be able to grow and be a better version of yourself.
Enough is Enough
There are many lessons in Daring Greatly that directly relate to being financially literate. One of the primary rules of personal finances is to live off of less than you make, a simple statement but a hard rule to live. One of the reasons it is so hard to live by is that we are constantly comparing what we have to those around us. Worse, we tie our self-worth to what we own, how much we can collect, and what the outside world thinks of us.
That type of thinking can have us do foolish things like overspending to meet some unobtainable goal set by forces and people we have no control over. The way to combat this feeling is to recognize what is enough.
Brené Brown lays this out perfectly by saying: “You are enough.” “You have enough.” and “Showing up, taking risks, and letting yourself be seen is enough.” In other words, you can let go of some of your shame because what you are is enough. You can stop trying to “keep up with the Jones” because it isn’t necessary. And what you do and create deserves to be seen.
This messaging, unfortunately, is not the norm, but it needs to be. Once you can feel comfortable with yourself, you will also be able to start making financial decisions that are in the best interest of you and your family. And it is only when you make wise and informed decisions with your money that you can reach your financial goals and feel a sense of financial wellness.
I’ve written a lot about how practicing gratitude is fundamental to financial literacy. A gratitude practice can help hedge against the need to have more. Being grateful has been proven to increase happiness in your life. I can’t think of a better reason than being happier.
I also love how she highlights that self-compassion and gratitude are not one-time things. They need to be practiced to gain the full benefit.
Giving folks the road map to let go of shame and self-doubt is why I think Daring Greatly is Brenè Brown’s best book. It is also why I think it is a financial literacy resource that has been missed on many financial literacy best book lists.
This book has so much to glean; her conclusions on belonging alone are worth the price tag. If you want to develop a better relationship with yourself, the people around you, and your money, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of Daring Greatly. The lesson inside will help you live a more fulfilling life.