Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection

First of all, sorry for the delayed post! I had some computer issues on top of scheduling issues last night and couldn’t write my post on time. Which is funny because today I’m writing about Brené Brown’s book: The Gifts of Imperfection.

Although I have heard many great things about Brené Brown, I’ve never read one of her books until now! My sweet husband got me this book for Christmas and I was so excited to read it. I think I finished it in about two weeks, although I would have finished it earlier if I hadn’t recently started class again.

Let me just tell you right now, you need to get this book. Especially if you are a perfectionist like me. In recent years, I’ve tried to be more mindful of my type A  perfectionist tendencies, because I’ve realized that while there are strengths that come with those traits, there are also weaknesses. One of them is that if I’m not careful, I can continually live in a state of anxiety because there is always more to do and more to improve on. One of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, wrote a book called Present Over Perfect that has helped me tremendously. The Gifts of Imperfection just built upon what I learned in that book from a psychology perspective.

Before I get into some highlights of this book, I want to note that even though she is a renowned psychologist, Brené is a very down-to-earth and relatable author. She not only presents her research in a very understandable way, she humbly admits that she was confronted with her own research and discovered much about herself through writing the book.

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené invites the readers on a journey with her to embark on what she calls “Wholehearted Living.” According to her,

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

I love everything about this definition, and Brené does a great job of unpacking how to live wholeheartedly throughout the book. First, she talks about how courage, compassion and connection are the gifts of imperfection. She says, “The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance. It’s a path of consciousness and choice. And to be honest, it’s a little counterculture. The willingness to tell our stories, feel the pain of others, and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can do halfheartedly.”

Next she explores the power of love, belonging, and being enough, which is all connected to self-love and self-acceptance. Then she addresses things that can get in the way of living wholeheartedly. This chapter was wonderful because she brought in her extensive research on shame and how we need to share our stories with others in order to release that shame. “We don’t need love and belonging and story-catching from everyone in our lives, but we need it from at least one person. If we have that one person or that small group of confidants, the best way to acknowledge these connections is to acknowledge our worthiness.”

Brené then offers a series of guideposts to living wholeheartedly. These include:

  • Cultivating authenticity
    • “The thing is…authenticity isn’t always the safe option. Sometimes choosing being real over being liked is all about playing it unsafe.”
  • Cultivating self-compassion
  • Cultivating a resilient spirit
    • “Joy is as thorny and sharp as any of the dark emotions. To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees–these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain.”
  • Cultivating gratitude and joy (something I am working on this year already!)
    • “It seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works–it’s not alive.”
  • Cultivating intuition and trusting faith
  • Cultivating creativity
  • Cultivating play and rest
    • “We’ve got so much to do and so little time that the idea of spending time doing anything unrelated to the to-do list actually creates stress. We convince ourselves that playing is a waste of precious time. We even convince ourselves that sleep is a terrible use of our time.”
    • After reading this chapter, I decided to take a nap instead of working on my to-do list, and I didn’t regret it.
  • Cultivating calm and stillness
    • “The men and women I interviewed weren’t anxiety-free or even anxiety-averse; they were anxiety-aware. They were committed to a way of living where anxiety was a reality but not a lifestyle. They did this by cultivating calm and stillness in their lives and making these practices the norm.”
  • Cultivating meaningful work
  • Cultivating laughter, song, and dance

I greatly appreciated Brené’s suggestions on living a wholehearted life. I know that wholehearted living, as she defines it, is really how I should be living. But in reality it is so hard to practice! I’m grateful that at the end of each chapter, she provided challenges and suggestions for how to practically implement the concepts. I really enjoyed this book and it challenged me to be more conscientious of how I live. Whether or not you struggle with perfectionism like I do, I guarantee there are things you can relate to in this book. You can buy it here, and also check out Brené’s blog!

See you soon for Friday Favorites!

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection

    • juliascreativeyear says:

      Hey there. I can’t thank you enough for this recommendation. It’s taken me ages to read this book because I had to pause in between each guidepost so as not to overwhelm myself. I need to think a bit about how to put more of the book into practise intentionally, but there were so many things that just helped me to relax, and to see value in things already in my life. I think the main thing I’ve taken away to practise at the moment is being self compassionate, and I’ve even booked to go on a course in London by an author she recommended. There were so many ‘little’ things to do in the book, and the ones I’ve tried are already having a big impact. Thank you so much again for sharing this. You may have started a chain, as I mentioned it on someone else’s blog and she said she was going to look at buying it too! I think this is a book a could reread many times and still get new things out of it. 😊

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