Brene Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Brown spent years studying the difference between people who felt connected and those who felt alienated.   This is what she discovered: in order to experience connection, you have to believe you are worthy of it.  Shame is what unravels connection. Shame is the fear of disconnection – unworthiness of connection. People who have a strong sense of love and belonging (connection) believe they are worthy of it.

Courage is different from bravery. Bravery is connected to a specific act, courage is an attitude.  The courage to be imperfect. The compassion to be kind to ourselves first, and then kind to others. In order to find connection, we must be willing to be vulnerable.

How can we live wholeheartedly? To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen?  To love with our whole hearts? To practice gratitude and joy in the moments when we are terrified? To believe that we are enough?