Brene Brown on the importance of social engagement

University of Houston based Professor and social worker Brene Brown has written more than a dozen books and hosts a podcast about happiness and how to grow it. She is widely known for her appearances on television, podcasts and her research into vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. She is one of the leading proponent of Grounded Theory.

(From WikiPedia, Grounded theory is a systematic methodology that has been largely, but not exclusively, applied to qualitative research conducted by social scientists. The methodology involves the construction of hypotheses and theories through the collecting and analysis of data.[1][2][3] Grounded theory involves the application of inductive reasoning. The methodology contrasts with the hypothetico-deductive model used in traditional scientific research.

A study based on grounded theory is likely to begin with a question, or even just with the collection of qualitative data. As researchers review the data collected, ideas or concepts become apparent to the researchers. These ideas/concepts are said to “emerge” from the data. The researchers tag those ideas/concepts with codes that succinctly summarize the ideas/concepts. As more data are collected, and re-reviewed, codes can be grouped into higher-level concepts, and then into categories. These categories may become the basis of a hypothesis or a new theory. Thus, grounded theory is quite different from the traditional scientific model of research, where the researcher chooses an existing theoretical framework, develops one or more hypotheses derived from that framework, and only then collects data for the purpose of assessing the validity of the hypotheses.[4])

Brene Brown, in her most popular TED talk discusses the impact of shame on human behavior and how it is the single greatest factor in human development, as a deterrent from anti-social behaviors and is the underlying emotion that drives individuals to its opposite, social connections. In a recent Forbes interview, she stated “one core variable that magnifies our compulsion to sort ourselves into factions while at the same time cutting ourselves off from real connection with other people, my answer would be fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the pain of disconnection. Fear of criticism and failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of not measuring up. When we ignore fear and deny vulnerability, fear grows and metastasizes. We move away from a belief in common humanity and unifying change and move into blame and shame. We will do anything that gives us a sense of more certainty and we will give our power to anyone who can promise easy answers and give us an enemy to blame.”

The importance of social connection in happiness cannot be overestimated. Neurochemically, it is the greatest source of both Serotonin and Dopamine production, responsible for our senses of pleasure and happiness. It is the foundation of all family systems and the basis for an individuals sense of support in the world.

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