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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.

PROs
-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.

CONs
-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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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are is an excellent book. You are enough. This New York Times best selling author and professor has written a very powerful and inspiring book. She really connects well with the reader emotionally. She expresses her opinion and her own personal experiences. This author does not lecture and tell the reader nor instruct what the reader should do. Goes beyond the common way of looking at things to bring the "ah-Ha" moments one can really relate to. The main messages are let go of insecurity, guilt, shame, discomfort and expectations.
“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.”

“When I let go of trying to be everything to everyone, I had much more time, attention, love, and connection for the important people in my life.”

“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”

HINT if you have not seen her TED talk on vulnerability you should do so. GREAT read and we HIGHLY RECOMMEND it even though it is somewhat repetitive and not too well organized..
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on January 10, 2018
Brene Brown is a truly gifted human being. Many of the things she says are thoughts/feelings I have had off and on in my life. Her ability to comebine them in a completely honest, genuine, and cohesive way, so they can be understood, absorbed and applied to our lives is a gift beyond measure. Imagine If each of us had the ability to live our lives with authenticity, grace and wholeheartedly while remembering that we are all connected in an essential and beautiful way. The result would nothing short of breath taking, in it's magnificence!
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on December 4, 2015
Have not read the entire book yet...but since I'm "imperfect", it's to be expected! :) What I have read is SO applicable to me and my life...and likely so many others as well. It is written in a down-to-earth manner and doesn't really contain any instant "recipes" to fix/cure anyone. That in itself, is refreshing.
This is not a lofty, esoteric venture...it's heart-felt and sincere. With lots of anecdotes it's a great book for me. I should write more when I finish it. But you know, being imperfect means I may or may not write more.
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on December 30, 2017
Anyone who truly wants to live a wholehearted existence and truly "live life" needs to read this book. It shows you how to deal with shame and guilt and perfectionism, how to "dig deep" and be mindful. The nice thing about Brene Brown is that she's a work in process and doesn't pretend to have all the answers, she's willing to show the vulnerability and difficulty with which she learned these lessons. Although I'm somewhat of a new agey person, it's nice to have a grounded research perspective of why we need to strive for authenticity in our lives. A worthwhile and accessible book for every person on the planet.
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on April 20, 2015
This is a descent book, and I think it has valuable lessons; I have faith in the analysis method adopted in the open-end surveys. It can be hard to read at times and some of the statements are repeated a little too often. I understand that the goal of the author is to emphasize some of the findings or lessons, but the reader is not that forgetful. Also many of the examples are female-oriented; it makes sense since the author draws many examples from her life, which is after all a female's experience. With a tiny bit of imagination on the reader's part, the experiences can be extended to every type of person. But when you read this book, you constantly think about your vulnerabilities and the process can be emotionally tough. Offering a wider range of experiential examples could offer some level of comfort to a reader who's taking the content of the book seriously and is ready to apply the teachings to his or her life.
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on January 16, 2017
*"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."

*"I think asking for what you need is one of the bravest things you'll ever do."

*"Do you know how incredibly brave is to say 'I don't know' when you're pretty sure everyone around you gets it?"

*"No matter how much gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough."

I found out about this book in the moment I needed it the most: now. I'm grateful for it and the hope and courage that's offered me.
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on January 14, 2018
I am just loving Brene Brown’s books. I am buying them all! I have one on audiobook and I quickly realized getting it on audio was a mistake because I can’t highlight things and I ended up pausing it and writing nearly everything she said down. She is a wonderful concise writer that speaks straight to the heart of the matter while helping you see things in a duh but also Hallelujah kind of way. Love her, loved this book.
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