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on June 24, 2015
Let me begin by stating where I was coming from, when I picked this book up. I've spent 11 years in the Army and done quite a few combat deployments. Moreover, I had recently been dumped in my 'perfect' engagement by my fiancee who had been cheating on me with a male coworker. So, this 'emotional' genre of reading isn't usually my thing and my sense of worthiness was very injured. I initially avoided this book out of concern that it was one of many under-evidenced self-help titles.

Changing my mind on reading this was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am a much better person for it. I don't guarantee very much, due to my skeptical nature; but, I think I can guarantee that something in this book will profoundly change you. Perhaps this was done by Dr. Brown's approach of confronting the 'things that stand in our way' of leading a 'wholehearted life'. This is important because thoughtful people need to confront these things in order to overcome them and develop not just a positive mindset; but, a *realistic* one that doesn't ignore the potentially negative cognitions that arise.

Some of my PROs and CONs follow. But, allow me to be clear: if you have just been dumped, divorced, or experienced a break-up, then I think this is a great book for you. Some other titles like to do half-baked analysis of what happened between you two. Some of those books are like your own, highly-biased pep talker ("she was all wrong for you", "you're better off, now", etc.). While well-meaning, this can weaken you going forward. They sacrifice truth and accuracy for 'feel-good' support.

Much has already been said about this book, so I've avoided a super thorough review.

-well-organized content. topics overlap somewhat (of course), but they are introduced in the form of very manageable daily 'guideposts'.
-content is qualitative research-based. I think this is the right approach, since qualitative research is well-suited to derive meaning from the experiences of people.
-writing style is down-to-earth, clear, and very humorous at times.
-the book is relatively inexpensive.
-the approach of tackling 'obstacles' of thinking that prevent wholehearted living.
-realistic expectations of the results of reading this book.
-comprehensive treatment of the elements of wholehearted living.
-the persuasiveness of pretty much every guidepost.

-for the uninitiated (read: myself), I thought that guidepost 8 wasn't as clear in defining the concept of stillness.
-umm.. I'll have to get back to you on this one.

I would like to conclude with a few things that convince me that something in this book has made profound changes. First, I grew-up with a very domineering father and reading this book has made me truly comfortable with him for the first time in my life. Second, I NEVER danced at a bar without having some 'liquid courage' to prime me. After reading, I danced several songs (badly, of course ;-) ) and truly enjoyed myself. Third, because of my balding, etc. I always felt a little too self-conscious to dare flirting with some very beautiful ladies that I've met. Not any more.

These are just a few thoughts, but I hope that they speak to someone out there.
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on March 14, 2016
I read "Daring Greatly" about 6 months ago after watching Dr. Brown's TED talks and that book honest to goodness changed my life. I was excited to read this one, particularly because I found her discussion of perfectionism so helpful in Daring Greatly. I have to admit that as much as I still admire Brene Brown, I found this to be a watered down version of Daring Greatly and I kind of regret buying it (I don't regret READING it, but I do regret paying for it, and I don't feel that this improves my library).

I found this was a little shallow and abstract, whereas Daring Greatly so eloquently and articulately put words to ideas we understand intuitively, and it really enhanced my emotional vocabulary. This book offered little in that respect. Some of it (shame vs guilt, for example) was redundant of Daring Greatly (and other texts for that matter) and her discussion of ideas like intuition, spirituality, and numbing were vague and unhelpful to me. She was mostly quoting other people's definitions and discussion of these topics, and while some the quotes were thought-provoking, I didn't feel that it really enlightened me.

Her examples were also not as compelling in this text. It was mostly about her, and while some of the examples were useful and memorable, I came away feeling like she was painting a picture of her family rather than focusing on her research and data. Daring Greatly, on the other hand, was written in such an empathetic and compassionate way that I kept saying, "YES! That's me! She understands!" or "Wow! That's totally my brother-in-law!" It was like one light bulb after another going off. Reading Daring Greatly was so inspiring and healing. This book didn't have that same level of empathy and was missing that universal quality, focusing instead on examples that were auto-biographical. Some other reviewers said this read like a blog, and I have to agree. By the end of this book I didn't feel UNDERSTOOD like I did after reading Daring Greatly. I honestly felt that as I read Daring Greatly, Brene Brown was like looking inside me and having a conversation with me, even though she doesn't even know me. After reading The Gifts of Imperfection, however, I felt that I understood more about her and less about myself.

There was also something a little kitschy about this. She had a section after each chapter called DIG deep where she listed ways that she tries to employ these strategies, and she often said "Amen" at the end of some quotes. While cute, it lacked the maturity and empathy of Daring Greatly.

She was also a little judgmental in this book (towards others and towards herself) and I could ironically see her striving for perfectionism (like in order to be perfect she needs to become "wholehearted," so she is actively working to employ these strategies rather than actually embodying them). It is almost like by the time she got to Daring Greatly she was fully reborn and had reached that full enlightenment, and she was still working on getting there in this text.

Additionally, unlike Daring Greatly, this reads a little bit like a checklist (see comment above) of things you should do: 1. don't be a perfectionist 2. Get creative 3. Rest and play 4. But don't numb 5. Dance like no one is watching you 6. practice self-compassion 7. Have faith. By the end I felt like I was being told what to do to be happy, as if it was a formula. While some of the advice was certainly helpful, it wasn't inspiring in the same way Daring Greatly was. Daring Greatly got at the heart of one's emotions. It talked about courage, authenticity, compassion (true ideals) and it showed how there is extraordinary in the ordinary. The Gifts of Imperfection seemed to get sidetracked by specifics (dancing, jewelry making, her childhood house in New Orleans) and it never reached that universality that was so healing in Daring Greatly.

Lastly, this book was highly referential. As I said earlier, she quotes a lot of other people to get at defining abstract terms. She also references the work of many other psychologists, researchers, etc. For example, Kristin Neff and Marci Alboher. It isn't that I didn't appreciated her references, but this felt blog-like again: "Hey I read this and I LOVED this idea, check it out!" Or "this quote inspires me! Let me share." In contrast, it felt like Brene Brown had found her own voice in Daring Greatly, and no longer needed to continually reference others' work and could just share her research and the conclusions she reached from it.

All in all, while The Gifts of Imperfection was a nice book that offered a little refresher of Brown's understanding of "wholehearted living" with some ideas about intuition and faith, creativity, and song and dance, it was not as sophisticated or inspiring as her latest book Daring Greatly, which really felt like a true culmination of her research and experiences. I'd skip this one; or at least just borrow it from the library...
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on August 14, 2011
I've been through 6 therapists, I've struggled with depression for nearly twenty years, never could finish anything I started, and everyone always assumed I had ADHD. Not until therapist number five did someone point out to me that ADHD is often mistaken for anxiety and he was sure that was my problem. Boy was he right. Sadly, he was terrible at treating, so I found a new therapist who encouraged me to embrace the bad days and bad times and she pointed me to Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. It really spoke to me, so I thought it would be a good idea to read her book. I just looked at the screen for a full minute trying to figure out how to put into words how much this book has helped me and I just can't find them. All those years I thought I had ADHD, I was just afraid of what people would think. I would pick up a new hobby hoping it would be the one that I could stick with and foster, only to give up on it. Never was the problem an attention deficiency, it was a courage deficiency. The author talks a lot about how making a major change in your life isn't something you wake up and do one day, it's something you practice every single day. And most will struggle with it, but without the struggle, we lose out on so much. I will have far fewer regrets on my deathbed having read this book. If you read these Ms. Brown, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.
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on December 1, 2016
  “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.

Wholehearted living is not a onetime choice. It is a process. In fact, I believe it’s the journey of a lifetime. My goal is to bring awareness and clarity to the constellation of choices that lead to Wholeheartedness and to share what I’ve learned from many, many people who have dedicated themselves to living and loving with their whole hearts.

Before embarking on any journey, including this one, it’s important to talk about what we need to bring along. What does it take to live and love from a place of worthiness? How do we embrace imperfection? How do we cultivate what we need and let go of the things that are holding us back? The answers to all of these questions are courage, compassion, and connection—the tools we need to work our way through our journey.”

~ Brené Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection

Reading Brené Brown’s books makes you feel safe.

Well, actually, they make you feel a little freaked out (laughing) as you look into some areas you may not like to look—like vulnerability and shame—but, ultimately, they make you feel more of the three qualities she advocates (and models) so powerfully: courage, compassion, and connection. And, in the process, like you’ve come home to yourself.

And that’s awesome. :)

Her work as a shame and vulnerability researcher led her to discover people who had figured out the keys to shame resilience and what she calls Wholehearted living. (Think: half-hearted kindasorta going thru the motions vs. WHOLEhearted, all-in joyful living!)
This book walks us through the ten “guideposts” of Wholehearted living in. It’s a quick-reading, fun, inspiring and wise little book that I highly recommend.

Let’s explore some of the Big Ideas:

1. Dos and Don’ts - Of Wholehearted living.
2. Guideposts - Ten of them.
3. Practicing - Is where it’s at.
4. Ordinary Courage - Requires vulnerability.
5. A Deep Sense of Love - And belonging is required.

Here’s to doing the little things (diligently, patiently, persistently and playfully) as we cultivate courage, compassion, and connection that help us live Wholeheartedly and put our soul in a wonderfully good mood!

More goodness— including PhilosophersNotes on 300+ books in our ​*OPTIMIZE*​ membership program. Find out more at brianjohnson . me.
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on June 20, 2016
My goodness, this book is challenging! However, I am a huge fan of Brene Brown, so I am reading all of her books even if the truth she speaks is the last thing I want to hear. This book has really helped me to examine my intentions behind my actions and then revise my thinking to be more whole-hearted. I have learned a lot about my own disordered thoughts and behaviors, where they might stem from, and what to do about them. I now find myself recognizing destructive cycles and breaking the thought chain before it can spiral out of control. That has drastically improved my life and my relationships. This book has been a tremendous blessing in disguise as I venture out into life on my own post-college.
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on January 20, 2018
Mrs. Brown is truly a story teller. I woke up at 2 am not feeling well from a cold, but emotionally is where I felt the worst. A few days of passing and I had enough of this feeling of self doubt. I may have quit if it was just pure research, but her countless stories of her own struggles were so easy to identify with. I'm just thankful I'm sick so my roommates couldn't hear a grown man's sniffling. I'm really kidding, I don't actually mind telling people I cry. Just thought it would be funny to include a piece on shame.

For years I've used healing others in order to prove my own worth. I've dated purely in a way that I must help and heal them in order to feel my own place as worthwhile in the relationship. It doesn't allow me to get close because I'm lacking in authenticity and vulnerability. I may have felt that I was showing these people their worth, but really I wasn't showing them love. The part on faith will be hard for me I've always loved certainty and with emotional distant parents I've always held expectations of people leaving me. This book laid bare my struggles and I thank Brene Brown and my wonderful therapist for making it easy to unpack all of this in a digestible manner. Perhaps I'll finally get passed my compassion fatigue and truly love. One day at a time.
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on December 3, 2014
Review of: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown,;; Hazelden, Center City, Minnesota 55012, © 2010 by Brené Brown, 138 pages. [Nov. ‘14]

“Self-Help” books are endemic. Most of us want to improve some part of our life on an ongoing basis thus “How To” books abound – “Lose Weight Easily,” “Change Your Life in 30 Days,” “How Better Friends in Can Make You Rich!” – titles that intrigue and hook into our hope that “it will be better, then!” Rarely does a book come from an outlook of “this is how I changed my life, maybe it will be of help to you,” yet that is the style and tone offered by Dr. Brown in this well researched (she is a professional researcher), concise book whose writing is more prose than technical. The book deserves to be read slowly enough so the practical suggestions can take root beyond the, “Oh, that’s interesting!” phase, but could easily be read through in a weekend.
Dr. Brown is clear in her writing that people and things only change when the work is done to make those changes. The “Sub-Sub-Title of the book is “Your Guide To a Wholehearted Life” and is the result of her having experienced a “Breakdown Spiritual Awakening” (her description) in 2007. She defines Wholeheartedness “is as much about embracing our tenderness and vulnerability as it is about developing knowledge and claiming power.” (p.xi). Because she choose to grasp this time period as moment of awakening rather than a time of grief, she frames the “steps” to living Wholeheartedly as “Guideposts,” framing the tasks more as a guided journey than a “Fix It Fast” guarantee.
None of the Guideposts are surprising and each is discussed in a chatty manner that feels more akin to having a talk with a trusted other than it does the results of a professional researcher, which is a good move if the author desires to have her results actually read. This does not diminish the data she presents, especially when she uses her personal experience when relating said findings. The Guideposts are (emphases are mine):

#1 – Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think (so
much for holding to my Co-Dependency!”)
#2 – Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism (I
don’t have to be right all the time?!?!)
#3 – Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and
Powerlessness (feeling deeply is part of LIVING)
#4 – Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of
the Dark (what I have is sufficient)
#5 – Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need
for Certainty
#6 – Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison (Being “me” is
a good thing.)
#7 – Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status
Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth (WHEW! Thank
#8 – Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a
Lifestyle (If people did this, I’d be out of work.)
#9 – Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt
“Supposed To”
#10 – Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool
and “Always in Control”

Each chapter ends with a DIG (Deliberate, Inspired, Going) reflection. This is a time to actually consider what was just read, consider what needs to be done if one is to incorporate that step into one’s life and create a plan to practice that choice regularly.
I found this book to be helpful and encouraging. The author offers no guarantees of how changes will occur only that these “guideposts” made, and continue to make, a difference in her life.
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on June 7, 2017
Brene Brown is someone who can put the most fundamental human needs into words that really come to life and make sense and get people to talk about them and put them into practice. I have grown up in a generally healthy social and family life. I have been to college, grown up in a strong religious background and community, my parents being missionaries, and I think I have more or less been happy. Still, her words have shaken me up and helped me to realize what really matters, and what was keeping me from being me and embracing the life and freedom that God has created me to be. In addition, I have come to embrace others in the same way.

Her work has helped me to put pieces together that I think I have known in my head to some degree, but did not know how it fits together and make sense in my life and in the world.

This book can be seen as a foundational book among three of her books (including Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong). I highly recommend reading these.
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on November 25, 2017
Brené manages to point out where the source of real issues are coming from in our modern everyday lives and that we are foolishly being too serious with ourselves as if trying to touch the Sun as Icarus tried to: A metaphor of trying to reach perfection; An unobtainable goal that only leads to tragedy every time it is attempted in any aspect of life we stress to obtain it.

Her wholehearted approach will open one's eyes to a new world of possibility, where we can regain the warmth of humanity that has been lost over the decades. The change starts at home, in ourselves, and what we are comfortable to bring from the inside to the outside -and if we aren't we need to adjust what we have inside us so that it is not darkness, but light -by forgiving ourselves and not trying to be perfectionists and striving to better ourselves so that we can better others. As the saying goes, "better late than never," and. "Rome was not built in a day."
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on July 11, 2017
This is a great book that gives a concise overview of various concepts that the author used to overcome her breakdown/spiritual awakening in 2007 which came from her work as a psychologist/social worker. The thin book of 130 pages goes through different methods to overcome depression and anxiety as well as enhancing the quality of your life. The only down side to the book is that the concepts are quite counter-cultural and will be difficult to initially grasp but are very worthwhile to learn in the end. In the end, you will realize that most of the values and worldviews you bought into from the advertisers of Madison Avenue do NOT work in real life and only cause your suffering, i.e. like smoking is cool. This book helps set you straight. Brown gives you the truth that a lot of the things you think you should be and do are simply killing your spirit and the quality of your life. Free you mind and you butt will follow.
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