Social Justice Blog

<< return to main

Friendship and Kindness Steal the Show in Super Bowl Ads

Posted: February 06, 2015

When I watched the Super Bowl I picked up on themes of kindness and friendship in the television ads. They stole the show. These ideas are not outdated. In fact, they seemed rather timely. It made me feel good. I think advertisers are sensing a new mood in the country. Perhaps they realize that Americans are weary from all of the negative messages that constantly bombard us and play to our fears, and not our better selves.

Many of us crave more upbeat, positive messages. A great example of this is the popularity of Brene Brown who is a professor, a researcher and a best -selling author. She is also one of the most widely viewed speakers on Ted Talks with millions of views on YouTube. She hails from Texas and almost catches you off guard, because her message is so direct and honest.

When she started compiling her research, she started to look at the traits of people who were living lives of genius. As she studied the traits of each of these individuals, she realized that they were living “wholehearted” lives… They didn’t have easier lives than other people, but they approached life differently. The people she studied learned to accept themselves, let go of perfectionism and shame. They also became stronger because of their mistakes.

Brene Brown also discovered something else that was interesting…”hope is a function of struggle.” It’s not about always getting it, “right” or doing it perfectly, it is about trying. It doesn’t mean that we ignore current realities and pretend that they are not significant. It’s about learning to accept ourselves, including all of our flaws.

She asks a couple of probing questions on her Ted Talks, “When is the last time you did something brave?” And, “When is the last time you saw someone doing something brave?” It is not the absence of fear that separates the lives of these individuals, her research shows that people can be courageous and afraid at the same time.

Her ideas have the ring of C.S. Lewis. The challenge is how to show up in the world, do the right thing even though it may be uncomfortable or require you to be brave. The truth is, sometimes it is really hard. Perhaps this is the challenge for us. How do we live in the world, remain hopeful and work for change? At the same time, it is by engaging in this struggle that we become better.

--Maura