August marks the end of our ten month series on Brene Brown’s guideposts for wholehearted living as defined in her book: The Gifts of Imperfection. Whether this is your first or your tenth, we invite you to reflect with us on guidepost #10: “Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and ‘Always in Control”.

My initial reaction to guidepost ten has been avoidance. Avoidance not because of the content itself, but because: how do you merely write about something that is so clearly meant to be fully embodied? Unlike some of our previous guideposts, laughter, song, and dance, are more than mental, emotional, and spiritual pursuits, they are also supremely physical. To explore cultivating them, I want to be able to jump off this page and say: “laugh with me, sing with me, dance with me”.

And, if that works for you, then please, do those things: wherever you are, whomever you are with in this moment!

If instead you’re wondering “why?” or “that’s not me”, consider Brene’s words:
Laughter, song, and dance create emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration or healing: We are not alone. (p. 118)

Truly, across all cultures and languages, laughter, song, and dance, seem to be activities that unite the human family. This says to me that there is something deeply innate about our drive to express ourselves in such free, uninhibited ways.

And yet, Brene reminds us of the many fears that can block our ability to engage fully in such life and expression. She states, “The list includes the fear of being perceived as awkward, goofy, silly, spastic, uncool, out of control, immature, stupid and foolish. … The gremlins are constantly there to make sure that self-expression takes a backset to self-protection and self-consciousness” (p. 120).

Once again we have the choice between aligning with fear or aligning with joy, life, and connection. The beauty is that our risk-taking can be contagious; if we give ourselves permission to be silly and free then perhaps, we will find others who join us. Perhaps, we can cultivate a community of authentic and boundless singers, dancers, and laughers!

Perhaps, the risk to not cultivate such things is even greater to our spirits and our pursuit of this wholehearted journey. Brene warns, “When we value being cool and in control over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt, and soulful expressions of who we are, we betray ourselves” (p. 123).

So together, let us commit to not betraying ourselves. Let us commit to trying to tap into our inner children who are not afraid of looking foolish and instead are more concerned with being happy. The world has enough restriction and fear all on its own; let us do our part to infuse it with a little more laughter, song, and dance!

Blessings to you each on this wholehearted journey! It’s been a pleasure to accompany you.

Many blessings and happy cultivating,

Nikki Holm, Chaplain, MA