The Gifts of Imperfection - Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life. By Brené Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.

Christina Ketchen
Art & Entertainment

I was well into a fantastic book for this review when I stumbled upon The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I cracked the spine and I couldn't put it down from there. Now granted, I am a big fan of well-researched and passionate self-growth anything. But regardless, this 137-page book shares insights that are heartfelt, pointed and attainable. Yes, attainable. Brown has written a "how-to" actual guide to living a whole-hearted life. 

Brown's book builds on her years of research in "Wholehearted Living" and shed a bright light onto how to live a more authentic, whole-hearted, self-loving life. Her perspective is refreshing, wide eye-opening and encouraging. And it leaves you seeing that joy can prevail, that self love is attainable, and that the road to compassion is where it's at.

The book's subtitle "Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" is both a terrifying and exciting possibility that Brown simplifies and makes accessible. It's very likely that we all have elements of ourselves and of our lives that we'd like to change and improve upon. Living a whole-hearted life is about cultivating authenticity, self-compassion, gratitude and joy. Whole-hearted living also embraces creativity, play, and laughter. So far this whole-hearted living thing sounds pretty tempting. 

As I read the book, it was very obvious that whole-hearted living takes mindful effort and is continual work. Being authentic is scary. There will be set backs. There will be moments when the quest for whole-heartedness leaves those around us unsure. But as Brown's research indicates ...  self compassion breeds self compassion and being joyful is literally contagious.

Essentially, the book calls on the old adage “you can't love someone until you love yourself.” And as Brown says, "If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging." This sounds pretty basic and straight forward... but what does truly believing you are worthy look like?

Living from a place of utter self love can be terrifying to many. But for those of you that are brave enough to be vulnerable you'll want to read this book. The chapter on authenticity alone is unquestionably worthy of the time it takes to read it. The statement, "I think we should be born with a warning label similar to the ones that come on cigarette packages: Caution: If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief." is a powerful one. The flip side of whole-hearted living certainly doesn't sound very appealing!

Throughout the remainder of this wonderfully insightful, real book, Brown defines courage, compassion, connection, love, belonging and authenticity. Her explanations of these commonly used terms are based partially on her research from over ten thousand collected stories.

If you are struggling to find joy, love to embrace personal growth, are looking for love or simply want to better understand the over-used, but truly fantastic, word "authentic" then this book is a must read. Personally, it is a book that will remain on my night side table so that I can read these powerful chapters regularly. There are a lot of gems in this little book.

Being true to ourselves is the best gift that we can give ourselves and our loved ones. Brown's insightful findings and facts about human emotion are fascinating and positively life altering. And who doesn't want to be surrounded by honest, compassionate connected relationships that leave us feeling joyful and loved?