Thursday, 9 June 2011

Wholehearted Living

I first encountered Brené Brown (Ph.D. L.M.S.W) when I viewed her incredible TED talk on vulnerability. In that presentation she spoke about shame, vulnerability and the importance of connection with those around us. Brown was inspiring, humorous, sincere and compelling. I was immediately drawn to her and was so impressed that I wanted to learn more about her research. I sought out her books and chose to read The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) as an introduction to her writing.

The Gifts of Imperfection is subtitled “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are”. Brown writes that it is those things that make us imperfect which also make us authentic and real and enable us to live a wholehearted life.

Brown describes our quest for worthiness and how we cultivate this through practicing courage, compassion and connection. One of my favourite lines is “every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver” (p. 15).

Ten ‘guideposts’ for cultivating wholehearted and authentic living are provided. These guideposts include self-compassion, resilience, gratitude, creativity and meaningful work. For each, Brown includes examples from her research and stories from her own life to illustrate the point she is making. Her honesty, openness and authenticity come through, as does her humour.

It is largely a self-help book – a genre I normally avoid and often view with great scepticism. However, there were a number of “a-ha” moments in this book that made me pause and reflect. I particularly appreciate Brown’s message that we should embrace our imperfections and realise that “I am enough”.

Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability is available at: