Brene Brown is a renowned researcher, writer and professor and has spent a huge portion of her career studying Wholeheartedness. She has asked important questions like How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough - that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy? You can learn more about her from her website.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”
Divided into several chapters such as Cultivating Authenticity, Cultivating Self-Compassion, Cultivating a Resilient Spirit, Cultivating Gratitude and Joy, Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith, Cultivating Creativity, Cultivating Play and Rest, Cultivating Calm and Stillness, Cultivating Meaningful Work, and Cultivating Laughter, Song & Dance.
In the chapter on Resilience, Brene formulates a chapter on Spirituality. Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.
In the chapter on Cultivating Gratitude & Joy, Brene states that “these are anxious and fearful times, both of which breed scarcity. We’re afraid to lose what we love the most, and we hate that there are no guarantees. We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less. We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imaging loss, we’ll suffer less. We’re wrong. There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.”
In the chapter on Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith, Intuition is not a single way of knowing - it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith and reason.
In the chapter on Cultivating Calm and Stillness, Brene defines calm as creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity. When she thinks about calm people, she thinks about people who can bring perspective to complicated situations and feel their feelings without reacting to heightened emotions like fear and anger. The question becomes, Do we want to infect people with more anxiety, or heal ourselves and the people around us with calm?
Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.
In Cultivating Meaningful Work, she acknowledges that using our gifts and talents to create meaningful work takes a tremendous amount of commitment. Some people have managed to align everything - they use their gifts and talents to do work that feeds their soul and families; however, most people, piece it together. Like our gifts and talents, meaning is unique to each one of us.
She also discussed people pursuing multiple careers simultaneously and discovered how slash careers integrate and fully express the multiple passions, talents and interests that a single career cannot accommodate. So many people in the blogging, art and writing world are afraid to claim their work. Overcoming self-doubt is all about believing we’re enough and letting go of what the world says we’re supposed to be and supposed to call ourselves.
She concludes the book with the question that we must ultimately answer is this: What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think or letting go of how I feel, what I believe and who I am? Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.
Overall, I thought it was a truly inspiring and thought-provoking book which many of us can revisit at various stages in our lifetime.