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The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown: 7/10

The Gifts of Imperfection encourages reads to accept themselves for who they are: with their own unique gifts and their own unique imperfections.

Bullet Summary

  • Cultivate your unique gifts, even if you can't monetize them it'll make you happier
  • It takes courage to be yourself, but it will pay off: don't conform to the masses
  • Make time for rest and play: chances are it will actually make your more productive

Full Summary

About The Author: Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. She has been researching topics of shame, vulnerability and eotional connections.
Brown has become very popular in the media and is also the author of "Daring Greatly".

The central theme of The Gifts of Imperfection is that of people who live wholeheartedly.
Here are a few DOs and DON'Ts.

DOs:

  • Feeling worthy (you have enough now)
  • Resting and playing
  • Be authentic
  • Love
  • Trust
  • Gratitude
  • Joy

DON'Ts

  • Perfectionism
  • Numbing
  • Exhaustion
  • Be cool
  • Fitting in
  • Judging
  • Scarcity
  • Self sufficiency

Living A Life of Authenticity 

Brene Brown says that most of us do would love to live a life true to who we are.

What stands in the way is the pressure to conform. But we conforming means giving up who we really are, we feel inauthentic and too weak to live honestly.

The author says that authenticity is a choice, and on some days we'll have more strength to be more authentic than others.
If you want to have more and more days in which you are authentic, you need courage and compassion.

Being authentic means writing your own story

Develop Courage & Compassion

Courage and compassion are the way to authenticity.

Courage to speak your mind and allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of others.
For example, if you really want something to happen, don't pretend and say it's really no big deal when it actually is a big deal for you.

Compassion means to realize that you are not alone, and that everyone struggles exactly the way you do.
By relating to the struggles of others, you also acknowledge your own, and it will become easier to open and find support.

Also read: 12 Rules for Life (always tell the truth is one of the rules) and The Four Agreements (be impeccable with your word).

Drop Perfectionism

Brene Brown says that perfectionism is a shield revolving around the fear shame.

Perfectionists strive for perfection behind the assumption that if they can only be perfect, then they will avoid any shame and criticism.

Perfectionism is addictive and can lead to a paralysis. People are so afraid of criticism that they keep working -or telling themselves they're working- behind the curtains, and never really showing up.

What's the solution?
Brene has two suggestions:

  1. Be honest about your fear
  2. Remind yourself you do it for yourself, not for others

My Note:
This is a big generalization in my opinion, to say that perfectionism (always) revolves around shame.
Perfectionism can also happen when we are stuck in a child role and still trying to impress our parents to get the love we never had (also read "Will I Ever be Enough").

Develop Resilience

The author talks about resilience, and says that hopes underpins resilience.

You can learn hope by practicing it.

To move closer to your goals, make smaller goals that you can reach along the way, and take it little by little.
As you develop positive habits, it will then become natural.

Also read Grit by Angela Duckworth.

Develop Gratitude

Many think that gratitude is a feeling that follows a positive experience.

But Brene Brown says it's the opposite. Gratitude is something we practice and that will make our life happier.

Gratitude gives us the power to choose joy and feel joyful whenever we want.

I particularly like how Brene defines gratitude in the daily small joys of life.

Practicing gratitude means feeling glad for a walk back home on a sunny day, sharing a meal with your partner or tucking your child to bed.

Embrace Intuition

Brene Brown says that intuition and rationality are not mutually exclusive.

Intuition is nothing but our brain scanning for past reference points and coming up with a quick response. It's not a perfect response and leaves some room for doubt, but you should be comfortable embracing doubt.

My note:
Brene is right. As a note, intuition works the best when you're an expert in a given field. If you have an intuition about the next winning lottery ticket, now that might be irrational.

Also read Blink by Malcom Gladwell

Embracing intuition means taking action in the face of uncertainty

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Comparing is natural, but that doesn't mean it's good.

It's often through comparison indeed that we conform to others, and in so doing, we lose all that makes us special.

Let go of comparison instead and embrace your individuality.

Find Play Time & Rest

Brene Brown says that western society ties self worth to productivity.

And that's not healthy.
It's not healthy because in order to be productive we will sacrifice rest, play time and our general well being.

But work and play time are not opposite! The opposite of play time, says Brene, is actually depression.

Play time for Brene, is time spent without a strongly defined goal, and we are biologically programmed to have it.
If we forcefully remove it, we pay the price with our happiness and general well being.

Identify Your Talents

Brene Brown says we all have unique talents and gifts and we should embrace it.

Our gifts will not always be easy to monetize, but the author encourages us to use them anyway.

It will make our lives so much more joyful and meaningful.

Laugh, Sing & Dance

The best way to connect with others is with laughing, singing and dancing. And to do so, you have to learn to let yourself go.

And again, that requires vulnerability.

As a matter of fact, we have probably felt a bit self-conscious sometimes when we laughed a bit too hard (or when we were the first on the dance floor).

Don't be afraid and let yourself go: it's OK to be uncool.

the gifts of imperfection book cover

Real Life Applications

Drop Being Cool
Brene Brown says there's much pressure in our social media society to look cool.

Don't Trade Authenticity for Safety
Fitting in and trying to look cooler might feel safer. But it's really psychologically unhealthy. Turns out that "being yourself" is sound advise. Maybe just change it to "your best self", and then follow your own path pal.
It takes courage but it's worth it.

CONS

Frankly, I find a lot of cons in Brene Brown's work.
One of them is this:

  • Non Achiever Mindsets

Focusing on the fact that you could have less instead of focusing on what you can have more can be risky if you want to achieve high targets.

I believe you can do both: being grateful and happy with what you have while still achieving a lot.

But it's worth red-flagging that being too content, for some, might lead to underachieving on their potential.

Overall, Brene Brown's world seems more befitting average people who "want to be happy" than truly driven individuals.

Review

"The Gifts of Imperfection" is a great book with lots of wisdom.

Most of all, I liked the link between authenticity and writing your own story.

I would probably pick The Gifts of Imperfection over Daring Greatly, albeit the latter has a better overview and more psychological depth.

Brene Brown writes books that appeal a lot to women.
This is not to say that they're not useful for men, quite the opposite.

But it does mean that men should be watchful in applying all of what Brene advices (check out "vulnerability is not power").

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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