I had the occasion to observe a family of four briefly this weekend and their eldest child, a boy of about 9-years of age, offered such an elegant example of The Art of Making Yourself Miserable that I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
That feeling of being “on duty” endlessly is exhausting, whether you’re caring for your children, your parents, your siblings, or a spouse. Your attention is constantly on what might happen next, when the phone is going to ring, or that worst-case-scenario about to unfold.
This Christmas, I bought myself a special gift, Brené Brown’s new book, Atlas of the Heart. It is a book that catalogs emotions (both traits and states) and gives a new level of precision to the language we use to express how we feel.
We do this to ourselves, you know! Our impossible wish for the picture-perfect holiday, our expectations of a dinner table worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting, the need to out-gift or over-gift because we haven’t seen family members for months, even years on end. It’s a lot.