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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 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 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 October 20, 2017
Brené Brown shares so many amazing points but the biggest takeaway I got from "The Gifts of Imperfection" was that we all have something and it's ours. No one else has it. No one else can speak what we can, write what we can or dance the silly way we do.

The perfection often lies in our imperfections and willingness to be vulnerable and put ourselves out there. Dance in the crowd that may judge.

This book didn't 100% change my life but that's such a lofty achievement. This book planted a seed and with each action I took to water and feed that seed, it grew.

As I read other books, I often thought back to this one and drew connections.

It was one of the many books that stacked up to create an opening that I ripped open and stepped through.
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on March 2, 2016
I've struggled for a long time with issues of perfectionism and feeling inadequate. Reading Brene's book has helped me see the foolishness in these feelings and has helped me begin to uproot them; I am proud to say it's a work in progress, but that I am making progress. Brene's writing is conversational, and so reading this book feels like having an intimate conversation with the author over coffee in a local cafe--I can pick up this book and fall into it like I can fall into a prayer book, and every passage, every vulnerable memory she shares, brings me closer to recognizing and affirming the humanity not only inside everybody, but also inside myself. This book is liberating, and nothing short of life-changing.

As I share this book with others, I keep telling them that Brene has become my spirit animal--though perhaps my spirit mentor is a more positive way of saying that. Her words and experiences speak directly to my soul, and I can related to her feelings of shame, inadequacy, and vulnerability more and more with every chapter. This is no doubt a book I will reread many times in my life, and each time I am sure to grow from it.

Brene begins with a few introductory chapters on what wholehearted living is, and then she moves into discussing the ten guideposts of a wholehearted life. Her experience researching these topics results in an abundance of definitions for each guidepost, but these definitions are shaped directly from her research and are given through storytelling, rather than verbose jargon. I read this book in only a few days, and I still intend to go back to it, review each guidepost, and reflect more deeply upon how I can make them a stronger part of my life.

Despite my not having taken the time to do this yet (I blame grad school and work), Brene early on introduces an acronym "DIG deep"--a three-step process to be Deliberate, do something Inspiring, and Get Going. When I begin to experience downward spirals of shame and self-loathing, or bouts of anxiety or any other overwhelming emotion, I remember this mantra and use it to pull myself back to what I want to be doing in any given moment. As I take time to be introspective and relate the guideposts more directly to my own life, I am certain that this DIGging deep will only become a more powerful force in helping me to live the life I want to live.

If you have ever struggled with "should-ing" yourself, this book can be a spiritual awakening that will help you get past this--and if you have friends/family members who "should" themselves and suffer from it, this book will be a great gift for them. I know a few people myself I'm getting this book for, because I truly believe reading it will help them find more fulfillment and happiness in their lives than they have now.
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on September 11, 2016
Another home run by Brené Brown. This book contains so much insight about understanding some of the behaviors and thought patterns that hold us back in life. While it is abundantly clear, as with all books by this author, that she is an experienced and highly adept researcher, her gift for story telling shines through even stronger. She genuinely connects with the reader by sharing her own “imperfections” and life experiences. I actually caught myself laughing out loud at various points in this book.

One of the things I found most valuable in this book, was how to use our own perceived "weaknesses" and turn them into some of our greatest strengths. It's impossible to read this book without getting a dose of courage. If you want a traditional self-help book, keep looking. If you want a book to shake your perspective, ignite your belief in yourself, and inspire you to go bigger, then this is definitely a book for you.

My respect and admiration for this author continues to climb as I read more of her books. She is a brave example of "practicing what you preach" and is truly one of the most inspiring authors (and speakers) I've ever seen.
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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 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 April 7, 2017
I can't speak highly enough of this book. Brene Brown is a genius when it comes to vulnerability and wholeheartedness. The amount of passion she shares with the reader on the subject matter is palpable. I love her sense of humor and writing style. So personal, so human, so humble. I also recommend "Daring Greatly". Thank you!
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on December 1, 2016
I love this book. I recommend it for anyone who is struggling with trying to be perfect and feels that they are the only ones out there struggling
to keep up with this crazy world in which you have to look, act, perfect when there is no such thing. Brene Brown really does a great job. She makes sense of things that don't make sense in this world. You'll feel like you ;have a great friend in her, I highly recommend this book.
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