Leave it to two of Houston’s finest to blow up Netflix. Back to back, Beyoncé and Brené Brown dropped Netflix specials that are bound to leave you asking yourself: “What’s in the water in Houston?” and “Is there something about that accented ‘e’?”
While we all laughed, cried, and self-motivated after watching Brené Brown, The Call to Courage, in which the University of Houston research professor (who has spent two decades studying difficult human emotions such as shame and vulnerability) breaks down life’s most difficult emotions and how we can manage them.
The Netflix special comes after her five New York Times bestsellers and most-watched TED Talk (it had more than 40 million views at the time this story was published) — in which she ironically discusses feeling completely vulnerable about all those people watching her talks.
Made for those who prefer to eat and dissociate their feelings with a weekly Netflix-and-binge session, the special captures Brown’s speech given at Royce Hall at the University of California (UCLA) and her hilarious yet crystal clear instruction on how to manage feelings of unworthiness, shame, vulnerability, and emotional pain. The magic of it all? You don’t even realize until the end that you’ve just been through an intense therapy session. To an extent, it feels like inspirational stand up.
For example, Brown shares a story about her own tendency to want to sit in front of the television for hours on end to numb herself after “reading the comments” about herself online. Just as quickly as the audience begins to roar in laughter at her tales of burying herself under a blanket with a seven-hour binge series, you can hear a pin drop as she instructs, “it’s not the critic that counts. The credit belongs to the person who… strives valiantly… who errs…. [who] in the end, while he may know the triumph of high achievement, at least when he fails, he does so daring greatly.”
Courage, she suggests, is what makes you a winner — not other people’s opinions of you, because winners are those who have tried — and lived — the most.
Another lesson wrapped in humor comes when Brown reflects on getting that dreadful feeling we have when we know that everything in life is going well. In a bit where she humbly reflects on the first time she went to meet Oprah (because only Brown can humbly tell this story), she admits that she was convinced it was too good to be true. Wrapped up in a punch-line fueled story, she taught the audience about “foreboding joy” or the feeling that “the other shoe is going to drop” and something bad will happen when things are going too well in life.
“When we lose our capacity for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding,” she explains.
The show continues like a comedic edition of her popular research-and-storytelling style books, leaving viewers with more than a few gems to reflect on. While the spring season and warmer weather can create more reasons to get outside and peel ourselves away from the television, May is National Mental Health Month — which means you have an excuse to engage in some television laughs that are good for your soul. According to Mental Health America, this year’s Mental Health Month focus is on #4Mind4Body, which means people should focus on things like humor, spirituality, and recreation as “ways to boost mental health and general wellness.”
To normalize the awareness and protection of our mental health, then, now more than ever is the right time to make the small changes that will evolve your thoughts and perceptions. And we can think of no better way to do that than starting with the spiritual entertainment that is Brené Brown.