Book Project: Living a Wholehearted Life Jannie Jenkins Dixie State University “The Gifts of Imperfection”, by Brene Brown, writer and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. The book is written to open people’s minds to the power and impact of living a wholehearted life. Brown confronts the dark emotions that get in the way of leading a fuller life and pursues the behavior of courage. She shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living, and what we can do to achieve our way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.
Each guidepost explores the power of love, belonging, and being enough as they each help us lead to recognize and act on our gifts of imperfection: courage, compassion, and connection. The key to living a wholehearted life is to embrace the gifts of imperfection. Guidepost number one: cultivating authenticity. Professor Brown explains that she has this as her first step to achieve wholeheartedness because we cannot be happy when we are constantly worrying about what others think of us. We must forget what other people might be thinking of us and be our real selves.
When we on’t embrace our true self, we deny ourselves of the many Joys of Just living. We are cultivating courage when we practice authenticity and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Guidepost number two: cultivating self-compassion. With Brown’s research, we learn that fear and shame are two major obstacles to accomplishing high self-worth and practicing self-compassion. When we let fear overcome us, we push away all ideas of aspiring our dreams and moving forward; when we get trapped in our box of shame, we Judge our self and others.
Brown urges her readers to realize that veryone experiences those feelings of suffering or inadequacy, but we have the choice of being warm and understanding toward ourselves rather than comparing and putting ourselves down. If we are compassionate with ourselves, we will experience empathy towards others, leading to our gift of compassion for others as well. Guidepost number three: cultivating a resilient spirit. Brown describes resilience as the ability to overcome adversity. Everyone goes through some sort of trial, but it’s how we handle the hardships that define us.
Overcoming adversity is the hardest part of living, then how do we become resilient? With her research, Brown made a list of protective factors”the things that help us move forward in adversity”and according to the people she interviewed, the very foundation of the protective factors was their spirituality She defines spirituality as, “recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us”(2010, pg. 56). Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose into our lives.
Guidepost number four: cultivating gratitude and Joy. Brown made the connection that all those who described themselves as Joyful or living a Joyful life, ctively practices gratitude. The best way to cultivate Joy and practice gratitude is by slowing down our constant rushed lives. People get so caught up in the “must’s” and the “do’s” in life to achieve happiness that they unknowingly reject what could be joyful moments. Brown consistently emphasizes the importance of acknowledging that, “l am enough. ” Guidepost number five: cultivating intuition and trusting faith.
Brown defines intuition as our ability to hold room for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight. She also goes into depth about he importance of having faith. To engage in a wholehearted life means we must believe without seeing. Guidepost number six: cultivating creativity. What keeps people from cultivating their own creativity is comparison. Comparison is all about conformity and competition; we feel the need to fit in or outstand! When we create, we produce meaning. Brown tells us to let go of comparison.
Guidepost number seven: cultivating play and rest. Brown gives numerous examples from her life as well as others about how much more meaningful their lives are when they exercise proper rest and adequate time to play. When we play we shape our brains, harbor empathy, and work through complex social groups. “Play is at the core of creativity and innovation. ” She incorporates rest by explaining that we cannot live full lives without respecting our bodies’ need for renewal. Play and rest cultivate connection. Guidepost number eight: cultivating calm and stillness.
It is impossible to live wholeheartedly when anxiety is pressing us down. Brown emphasizes in this section the meaningfulness that comes from multiple forms of meditation. Guidepost number nine: cultivating meaningful work. Professor Brown describes eaningful work as feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment and purpose from work. What keeps people from achieving meaningful work is their self-doubt. Self-doubt blocks our process of finding our talents and sharing them with the world; self-doubt is letting our fear undermine our faith.
Brown encourages us to establish who we are by determining our gifts and what we do with them. Guidepost number ten: cultivating laughter, song, and dance. We have to let goof being cool and “always in control. ” By doing so, we allow ourselves to express ourselves in ways that make us feel the most Joy and satisfaction. Brene Brown’s book is not a “how to” book (although there were times where I wished it was), it’s a book that pulls out our understanding of how we choose to live. Her guideposts are all choices that we have to make.
The only way we can create a life of living with our whole hearts is by practice. Brown’s book influences us to make choices of how we live our lives, but we must choose to practice. We won’t become self-resilient, authentic, self-compassionate, or more grateful if we Just sit and wait tor them to come to us. We nave to constantly practice and better ourselves, then we an live a more fulfilled life. This book covers the confusing emotions we as humans all go through. I have been able to more fully grasp and understand what things get in the way of my own personal wholehearted living.
It’s funny to me because everything she talks about is so plain and simple; it’s common logic but yet we still feel unworthy, abandoned, or unloved. Something that I have struggled with in my life is perfectionism. Brene Brown defines perfectionism as the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we will avoid the pain of blame, Judgment, and shame. This definition really it me because I believed that I would only be loved, approved, and accepted if I were “perfect. ” I worry about what other people think of me which denies me, what could be, wonderful opportunities.
I am afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect because I am afraid of failing, making a mistake, or disappointing someone. Perfectionism is self-destructive and I believe my perfectionism is what keeps me from feeling confident in myself. When I was reading about this, I wondered what can I do to get rid of this toxic belief. The number one thing is to practice self-compassion. Self-compassion consists of three elements: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
I often beat myself with self-criticism when I suffer, fail, or feel inadequate rather than being warm and understanding towards myself, self-kind. Something that I persistently try to remember when I’m going through something difficult is that it’s common humanity. Suffering and feeling inadequate is Just part of the human experience. Everyone has his or her struggles and is trying their best to get through them; it is not Just “me” alone. Since reading about this, IVe been practicing self-compassion so I can lower my perfectionistic way f thinking. It really is a huge difference how I perceive my life.
I’m accepting that it’s okay to go for those moments and opportunities that make me vulnerable because I’m not perfect and I don’t have to be; I’m embracing my true self while letting go of what others think of me. I do feel as if my soul is more fulfilled. Going along with perfectionism, comparison is another thing that gets in the way of living my wholehearted life. Comparison is all about conformity and competition. When we compare, we want to be like everyone else (“fit in”), but better. I refused to believe hat I was trapped in that exhausting hole of comparing myself to others because I knew I shouldn’t be thinking like that.
I realized though that in order for me to embrace my gifts of imperfection, courage, compassion, and connection, I have to acknowledge my weaknesses and shortcomings such as comparison. I continue to practice avoiding comparison because I know when I focus on being better or being the odd one out, I am not happy. I tend to forget about working on my authenticity, or gratitude when I’m spending all my time and energy conforming and competing. I lso have become aware that it’s okay to be me. I Just need to focus on going through my life at my pace, by my rules while everyone else is going throughout their life at their pace and by their rules.
Some may be faster, some slower, but the best thing I can do is smile, pat them on the back, feel happy for what theyre achieving and Just keep going. When I’m not comparing myself to others I feel good about my self and about my life. Recognizing my struggles with perfectionism and comparison, and working to overcome them, nave been major steps tor me living a more tultllled lite However, the biggest thing that stood out to me personally was how important spirituality and gratitude are in achieving wholeheartedness.
IVe always had a strong belief in my faith and religion, but it was neat to see from Professor Brown’s research that having spirituality is a core component of wholeheartedness. It’s not just me who relies and believes on my faith to become resilient, the ability to overcome adversity. Everyone needs to believe and celebrate that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our onnection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion (2010, pg. 64). Practicing spirituality brings healing and creates resilience.
We all have to define spirituality in a way that inspires us. I know, and have known for a long time, that my life would be drastically different without my spirituality. It truly does give me peace, comfort, and strength leading into a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose in my life. Finally, the other thing that stood out to me next to spirituality was cultivating gratitude and Joy. I think the reason this hits me hard is ecause everyone is striving to live a fulfilled life, and to me, a fulfilled life is a Joyful life.
We all are wanting to be happy, but this world is filled with so much pain, suffering, and sorrow that it’s hard to remain happy. Practicing gratitude is the essence of living Joyfully. When we are grateful, we immediately shut out our feelings that make up shame and destroy our happiness. The catch is that gratitude is a constant action and must be consistently practiced. Something that IVe done to practice having an attitude of gratitude is stating out loud things I’m grateful for hen fear or anxiety is creeping up on me.
When I verbally express my gratitude, a feeling of warm Joy really does overcome me; I no longer feel worthless or inadequate because I’m recognizing that I have enough, that I am enough! Through recognizing my shortcomings with perfectionism and comparison and also living a life of gratitude and Joy, I have been more able to embrace who I am. I live a life of imperfection, but I am enough. I have the potential to do amazing things when I live wholeheartedly, going throughout life with courage, compassion, and connection.
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