I finally finished this book. It was such an easy, quick read and now I am more back on track to where I would like to be on my 12 Books in 12 Months challenge.
So this book is amazing. its only 125 pages and I read it in just a few hours. Plus, it is super insightful.
The author, Brene Brown, is a researcher of shame and what causes us to feel shameful towards ourselves. She covers topics like joyfulness, compassion, courage, worthiness, authenticity and anxiety. The topics are brief and to the point, but very powerful and really resonated with me. I think its important to note that they are also likely to resonate with most people. Especially people like me. I am consistently feeling like I didn’t do enough today, that I could do more and I find myself quite aware of how other’s perceive me.
I am not alone.
I took a lot of things away from this book. And I will likely read it again. It is just full of juicy thoughts to process and put into practice. This is not a self-help book. It does not preach an “easy-fix” to feeling unhappy and inadequate. To change our thought process about ourselves and begin to develop our reactions and connections with other people to better match our authentic selves is a lifelong practice. We are creatures of habit and a lot of our worth is dependent on others’ approval. I feel this to be true for many people. Unfortunately, it seems that we live in a society where this authenticity is not the norm. Image is the norm. How we appear to others is what is important. Not who we actually are.
I disagree. I want to change. I want to be different. I don’t want my children to feel the way I do.
So what I learned:
- Striving for perfection is not the answer. We aren’t perfect. We consistently make mistakes. Striving to improve myself is. As Brene Brown says, “Healthy striving is self-focused- How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused. “What will they think.” I can try to be better. I want to be better. But at the things I want to be better in for myself. Not the areas of my life that others may find imperfect.
- I can only do my best everyday, and its okay to say “no”. Today, my best may be waking up and working out. Tomorrow it may be going to work, constructing a fancy dinner and writing in my blog. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I didn’t get to everything on my to-do list. I am doing my best. This means prioritizing how I want to spend my time. Not how I should. Which also means that sometimes, I can’t always be there for everyone else.
- Finding Joyfulness can change the coarse of my mind. Being joyful is a choice. And a practice. I want to find time to express gratitude each day. Expressing gratitude and acknowledging the good parts of my day and the accomplishments can change my attitude. Suddenly its not about what I didn’t complete on my to-do list today. It is about what I did complete. Positivity breeds positivity.
- Demonstrating compassion feels good for everyone. Shaming someone for the bad day they are having isn’t helpful for anyone. I think it is really important to remember that no matter how simple and easy life can look on the outside, we are all struggling with something. Demonstrate compassion. When someone you know shows up late and is obviously distraught about it, say, “I get it. I’ve been there. It happens.” instead of shaming them. They probably already feel guilty.
- Its okay (and probably healthier) to have a less-scheduled calendar. During my 6 weeks off of work, awaiting my new nursing license (so hard, by the way…I hated staying still) I have had a lot of time to spend with myself. I had time to address my concerns about my life: what the future looks like, where I want to be in a few years, what goals I have. It has been scary, frustrating, exciting and stressful all at once. I learned that in my case, I often over-schedule myself so that I don’t have time to worry about what actually makes me happy and how I actually want to spend my time. As Americans, a lot of us do this. As upsetting as some days have been, I think this time at home has been really eye-opening for me. My priorities are shifting. I am working through life and re-focusing my future. I can breathe.
I could write all day about this book, but those bullet points are a good place to start. Take the time. Read it. Find your authentic self.
You deserve it.
You can buy her book on Amazon here: The Gifts of Imperfection