The Gifts of Imperfection encourages us to accept ourselves for who we are: our unique gifts and our unique imperfections.
- 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
The central theme of The Gifts of Imperfection is that of people who live wholeheartedly.
Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts.
- Feeling worthy (you have enough now)
- Resting and playing
- Be authentic
- Be cool
- Fitting in
- Self sufficiency
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 though 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 & 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.
Similar to what she also writes in Daring Greatly, Brene Brown says that perfectionism is a shield revolving around the fear shame.
Perfectionist 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:
- Be honest about your fear
- Remind yourself you do it for you, not for others
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.
Many thinks 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.
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
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.
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 encourage 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.
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.
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.
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 explanaiton.
Brene Brown writes books that appeal a lot to women. This is not to say that they’re not useful for men, but it does mean they can be counterproductive for me.