How is it that some people seem to be able to find happiness in the face of adversity? How are they able to be positive, friendly and joyful even when they have been torn apart by tragedy, sadness and loss? How do they come through times that are so far from perfect we wonder how they cope, and yet they seem stronger and more fulfilled by the shattered world around them. They seem to enjoy their lives regardless.

What is the key to being truly happy in our lives, and in ourselves, even when filled with imperfections?

For me the book of 2014 has to be one I least expected. Not usually one for self-help books, I was given ‘The Gifts Of Imperfection’ (by Brene Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.) by a friend after a long heart-to-heart lunch where he said I was asking all the questions he had been asking for years, and how this book had helped him. It is not so much a self-help book as it is a book of awareness and study in living better, more fulfilling lives. It makes you think hard.

Brea, a researcher with a Ph.D. in social science – asked the very same questions about coping and being happy in the face of imperfection, and conducted studies on 1000’s of people over 1000’s of hours to see what it is about those who seem to survive and thrive vs. those who suffer and get stuck in misery and destructive behaviour.

She tackles issues relating to the unraveling journeys that are marriage, divorce, working in a soul sucking job, becoming a parent, recovery, moving, facing an empty nest, retiring, experiencing loss or trauma, being plagued by poor health, and so much more.

Her findings proved that it isn’t having money, or status, or a nice holiday-home to retreat to for relaxation, or an enormous inheritance to rely on that makes some more resilient and able to cope. It isn’t a matter of one person’s tragedy or imperfections being worse or more epic than another’s, thus making them less able to cope. It isn’t even those who have natural sunny personalities and are surrounded by friends as apposed to those who are sullen, quiet and prefer to be on their own.

The findings (which she lays out in 10 guideposts) are actually so simple it struck me that every human being on this planet has easy access to them.

I found this book amazingly short, which frustrated me at first because I wanted more. I wanted ANSWERS. She opened up a can of worms, and I felt that she didn’t grab a hold of each and every one of them, but instead let them wonder and stray deeper into my mind, leaving me to have to pull at them myself.

And then I realized that that is the beauty of this book. It forces you to face tough questions. Questions like why are women constantly told to be LESS in society (thinner, quieter, prettier, not abrasive, not confrontational) and men are told to be MORE (bigger, stronger, richer, more conquests in business and bed, more power in the gym and at war).

Questions like why do we give up our own authenticity and creativity to follow and conform, chasing to ‘fit in and stand out’ all at the same time, while saving our dreams, like scraps, for retirement? Why we numb ourselves in so many ways – alcohol, possessions, noise, business, work, pleasure, eating, spending, saving the world – just to cope.

Why we always think we will be better/more worthy when we loose weight/get married/get pregnant/stay sober/make a living/make a living selling our art/give to charity/hold our marriages together/make partner at the firm/get healthy/get published/when our parents finally approve/if others approve/if our children are good and successful and balanced.

The difference between professing and practicing love. Between Shame and Guilt.

It starts out a little strange, just some mother from America telling a few stories that you may or may not relate to, and I wondered if she was going to get to anything of substance or tell me how to fix my own problems with demanding perfectionism of myself.

She sure showed me! The stories that had seemed so simplistic, so pointless, revealed a storm of insecurities, like an old-school, non electric, twisty can opener – nothing fancy but boy does it get the job done (even with power-outs ala Eskom). This book will not tell you how to be better or live better or have a better life. Dr Brown isn’t about the ‘how-to’s’ – she is about doing statistical research and drawing scientific conclusions based on the data.

It’s up to us to do the work.

I highly recommend this book to anybody and EVERYBODY interested in stopping living the life you are told to live, and live the life you were meant to live – in letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be, and embracing who you are.

 My Rating: pink_shoepink_shoepink_shoepink_shoe

Book Details:

Unknown  Amazon Kindle

Kalahari

Genre: Better living/Emotional health

 

 

 

 

 

Be beautiful, inside and out… Just be,

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