Book Club: The Gifts of Imperfection

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2545 THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTIONI finished reading this a couple of weeks ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking and talking about it! My delay in posting has had more to do with figuring out how to curb myself from overwriting than anything else.

If you didn’t read this book, please, please do. You won’t regret it. The short recap is world renown researcher, Brene Brown spent 8 years studying shame and vulnerability.  During her more than 10,000 interviews, she realized there was a great divide between people who lived what she calls wholeheartedly (experience joy, peace, love) and those that don’t.  As she compiled lists of what made up wholehearted individuals, she realized she was in the “don’t” category.  This led to a personal breakdown and visit to a therapist. In the end, she believed so strongly in the accuracy of her own findings, she made huge changes to her own life as well as her family’s. The book is her story woven through her research.

Basically, I want to be her. My copy is so underlined, highlighted and covered in notes I can’t even tell you. I wish I could hit on every point…but no one, not even my mom would read that.

So, I’ll tell you about the guidepost I’ve spent the most time thinking about since closing the book. I’d love for you to share your favorite.

29515cd71da7283c90a285d3463889b4Guidepost #4 Cultivating Gratitude and Joy

Brown’s research showed there was a consistent relationship between joy and gratitude. People who experienced joy practiced gratitude. Brown was very animate about gratitude as a practice.

I believe joy isn’t found in our circumstances, so it made sense to me that the way to get it would lie in something else.  Currently, I don’t have a great system in place for giving thanks and if I want to be joyful, which I do, then I need to start there.

Brown went on to say that the ancient Greeks believed joy was “the culmination of being” and “the good mood of the soul.”  It is found only in God and is developed over time.  This was another favorite part of mine- they believed the opposite of joy was not sadness, but fear. (Pg 80)

Brown believes we are a nation hungry for joy because we are starving from a lack of gratitude (pg 83).  We struggle to be thankful primarily for two reasons. One, we live with a mentality of scarcity. Every day, most of us wake up and our first thought is- I didn’t get enough sleep, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money, I’m not enough etc… on and on it goes. It’s never enough. (pg84)  Which takes us back to the fear- do I trust I will have enough and that I am enough?  Adopting a mindset of sufficiency instead of scarcity leads to joy.

157576a86fdafe43504e0e4bee2fc2f1The second barrier lies in our hatred for and fear of uncertainty.  “We’re afraid to lose what we love the most, and we hate that there are no guarantees.”

Brown discovered,  “If we don’t practice gratitude and allow ourselves to experience joy in moment, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.” pg. 82

I appreciated her thoughts on these moments of joy not being extraordinary, “Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, ordinary, hardworking men and women. In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring, or even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless.”

“I think I learned the most about the value of ordinary from interviewing men and women who have experienced tremendous loss…loss of a child, genocide, and trauma. The memories they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring”. pg 84

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein
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5 responses to “Book Club: The Gifts of Imperfection”

  1. Heather says:

    Thanks for posting this Cindy! It DOES sound like a great book – very relevant and insightful for pretty much anyone. I’ll admit this book wasn’t one of the ones I thought I’d try to read when you first posted the three choices for the book club (“hmm, imperfections…self doubt and insecurity do crop up every now and then but overall, I don’t think I struggle with that TOO much, so I’ll probably just skip this one…”), but after reading your post on this book, I just may be inspired to pick it up! Unfortunately, I’ve found myself to be taking longer than I hoped to get through a couple other books at the moment, so I never got around to picking up either of the other two books from your list yet either, but at least I have some great choices to add to my “must read” list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Alecia says:

    Yep, it’s on my summer reading list, too. I had listened to Ms. Brown’s TED talk so had a feel for the content of the book. Alas, so many good titles with too little time! Interestingly, there is a much older book called “The Gift of Pain” by Dr. Paul Brand, that brings up many of the same themes in relation to physical pain–why we should be grateful for it, how gratitude changes our perspective on it, etc. Anyway, thanks for your insights, Cindy. Always good to get a recommendation from a trusted bookie!

  3. I will look “Gift of Pain” up! Such an important topic that is hard to remember and believe in the midst of trials. One thing I think you’ll appreciate about Brown’s book, is somehow it is still a lighthearted read, even given the topic! ..She’s a hero:)

  4. Hi, Heather! You’re welcome! If I had to say..I’d say bump this one to the top. Of all the books I’ve read in the last 5 years, it’s in my top 3. Just another shameless plug:)

  5. Heather says:

    Will do, Cindy!! Looking forward to reading this! :)

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