The Gifts of Imperfection (Book Review)

Ben Heifetz, LMFT, LPC and the Vista Book Club recently discussed Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.  In this book she describes a path to Wholehearted living and Guideposts to help one along the path.  Based on extensive interviews and original research, the author offers new definitions of familiar concepts that challenge how we perceive and approach many areas of our lives and relationships. 

  • “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.”
  • Wholehearted living is an ongoing process, not a one-time choice or destination.  Many of Brown’s definitions frame things as an active process rather than an inherent trait, which empowers the individual to cultivate qualities like courage and compassion rather than believe you either have it or you don’t.  “Practicing courage, compassion, and connection in our daily lives is how we cultivate worthiness.”  
  • Being Authentic (the first Guidepost)  is an essential part of Wholehearted living:  “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”  
  • In seeking connection, many of us err by trading in our authenticity and “hustling” for approval, which ultimately backfires because what we crave deep down is to be accepted for our authentic selves.  “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted.  Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”  
  • Brown defines love as action rather than a feeling:  “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.  Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow.”


Curious to learn more?  Check out Brené’s website for links to her books, TED talks, articles, podcasts, and more.