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Brent's Picks

Brent's Picks


My search for a pick this month led me to several TED talks that were interesting; but I rarely found speakers as touching and authentic as Brené Brown. She only gets into the topic of shame around the halfway point (so skip ahead to 9:45 if you are in a hurry), but the introduction is worth the wait. Often thought of as an emotion that isolates, shame is ironically universal. Brown clues us in on how looking at shame may bring us back to connection. Who cares? Well, a recent study showed that in 174 children, shame predicts depressive symptoms, internalizing issues, and social anxiety later in life (Mills, et al., 2015)…It’s time to listen.

This is Water, by David Foster Wallace

This short videogram is an excerpt of a commencement address that Wallace gave to Kenyon College’s 2005 graduating class. Bear with me on this one, it’s sometimes cheesy music may turn some of you off. But the underlying message is very touchingly and amusingly delivered: that our choice in how we relate to events has a huge impact on how we experience these events. Although Wallace was a writer, not a psychologist or researcher, his underlying message rings true with acceptance and commitment therapy’s underlying premise that much of human suffering evolves from an unruly use of the problem-solving mode of mind (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2012).

*Editor's note (important 2-in-1 learning experience in this videogram): Despite its important and poignant message, this videogram was almost taken off our site. In Wallace’s attempt not to sugar coat the ways in which we may very automatically and harshly judge certain people and situations, he—perhaps unsuspectingly—propagates fat shaming and offensive stereotypes of overweight individuals. To some of us, these aspects of the video probably go unnoticed, like water. For others who struggle to relate to the thin main characters, this “water” represents something in our culture that is rampant, mindlessly socially accepted, and that perpetuates the problem of obesity—one of the world’s most important health problems. To learn more about obesity and why some people live with it despite efforts to eat well and exercise avidly, check out articles and news on the Canadian Obesity Network. You can also read about why fat shaming is unhelpful in some of our previous picks (Lisa’s pick / Jodie’s pick).