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"I am because you are": How Embracing Vulnerability Creates More Meaningful Connections

Updated: Jan 27, 2018

"I am because you are”: How Embracing Vulnerability Creates More

Meaningful Connections

Ubuntu, “I am because you are,” speaks to the power of connectedness and the essence of being human. In today’s episode, learn why ubuntu matters for happiness and how owning your vulnerability is the path to creating connection, purpose and meaning, and to rejecting fear and disconnection.

Key Takeaways

  • The basic idea of ubuntu is shared by many indigenous peoples in sub-Saharan Africa under different names, but the concept has become most associated with the Nguni proverb 'umuntu ngumuntu ngabatu,' which is translated as 'a person is a person through other persons.'

  • Ubuntu is a philosophy or worldview according to which persons are interconnected. The concept has been adopted as a theological approach by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who echos this concept, saying that we cannot exist as a human being in isolation. At Nelson Mandela's memorial, United States President Barack Obama spoke about Ubuntu, saying:

Ubuntu ... we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.
  • Ultimately, ubuntu is about connections, and there is significant scientific research to show that connections are one of the most important--if not the most important--factor in determining our health and happiness. This episode reviews some interesting research on how interacting with meaningful relationships boosts happiness and well being on a daily basis.

  • Ubuntu, and indeed happiness itself, then depends on our ability to form and deepen relationships by owning our vulnerability. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown speaks to this:

Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection

Today’s Challenge

Ask for help.

Ask for help from someone you know. Ask for something you really, truly need help with! Choose connection, courage, and vulnerability over fear and disconnection. One of the hardest things to do in an individualistic culture, where we have the mistaken idea that we can micro-manage everything, is to ask for help. Yet this is a powerful way to own your vulnerability, to see you are not alone, and to acknowledge ubuntu in our lives.


Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Social Interactions and Well-Being http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167214529799

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