How do you live a wholehearted life? This was the question posed to me as I started listening to Brene’ Brown’s audio book called “The Gifts of Imperfection”. I was actually surprised because I thought this book was going to be about how to deal with my imperfections. My first thought was “Wow! How in the heck do you accomplish that?!” As listened each day, chapter by chapter, I realized that living a wholehearted life is a daily commitment to being your authentic self and including some challenging soul work. There are several key elements to a wholehearted life that surprised me. Brown has what she calls 10 guideposts to practice a wholehearted life. These guideposts are: authenticity; self-compassion; resilient spirit; gratitude and joy; intuition and trusting faith; creativity; play and rest; calm and stillness; meaningful work; and laughter, song and dance. In this post, I will share of few of my favorites in more detail with you. Hopefully you will be inspired.
What is the definition of a wholehearted life? When I think of wholehearted, I think of living with passion and determination every day. However, Brene’ Brown describes it like this:
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. Brene’ Brown Tweet this. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, 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 worthy of love and belonging.” Brene’ Brown Tweet this.
She points out we live in a culture of exhaustion and perfectionism. We are constantly comparing and we feel unworthy. Is this constant bombardment of comparison and feeling of unworthiness a good determinate of your accomplished life? Are you living wholeheartedly and do you have happiness?
Authenticity. Isn’t being an authentic person behaving the same way at home, as you do at work? What I discovered through Brene’ Brown’s book is that in order to live authentic and wholeheartedly, I need to accept my imperfections, create boundaries, and believe I am enough. I don’t know about you, but I only have 1 out of 3 of those done… maybe. It’s so difficult to believe I am enough. There are so many outside influences that tell you, you’re not. It takes courage to believe this and live a authentic wholehearted life.
Courage: There are all kinds of images that come to my mind when I think about courage. I think of the warrior that goes into battle when the odds are against them. I think about the courage of the person that runs into the fiery building to save someone who needs help. What I learned from Brown’s book is that courage can be as simple or difficult as telling your story with your whole heart. Have the courage to be imperfect. Courage is being yourself when others don’t accept you for being yourself.
Compassion: When I hear the word compassion, I think of Mother Theresa and her life legacy. But what I learned is that you need to be kind to yourself first. If you are a perfectionist, this is very difficult to do. Someone will always come along that you perceive does it better and you will compare yourself to everyone you meet. That negative thinking starts to roll around in your head and you end up being unkind to yourself. Be kind to yourself and it will be easier to be kind to others and easier to live a wholehearted life.
Connection: This is an overused word in our culture today. Connect with this person, connect with that person. Won’t you connect with me? I wondered if when I was connecting with others if I was really truly connecting. When the connection did not happen as I thought it should, I blamed myself. Brown says connection is all about being authentic and connecting with others who relate, respect, and love your authenticity.
Vulnerability: This word really struck me. Who wants to be vulnerable? This leaves you open for attack, right? As I thought about it and listened to Brene’ Brown’s argument, I started to understand. People that live wholeheartedly embrace vulnerability. They have the willingness to say “I love you” first. The willingness to do something with no guarantees. A spectacular life lived is to live it with unpredictably. Tweet this. Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love. Tweet this.
Laughter, song and dance. These are some of my favorite ways to experience wholeheartedness. Tweet this. I love the joy these bring me. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? When was the last time you danced and all you could think about was the joy you experienced and nothing else mattered? I am thinking about ways to incorporate these more into my daily life so I can live more wholeheartedly.
Rest and play. The last very important piece of Brown’s research was about the necessity for rest and play. To be healthy and live a wholehearted life, these two activities are essential. My mindset was only when I am feeling exhausted every day, then I am considered accomplished and I can have a sense of achievement. I thought to myself, when was the last time I really played? The last time I played was a few weeks ago when I took my dog for a walk and skipped down the street just for fun. I walked on an unbeaten path and took pictures of wild flowers. This took 30 minutes. We need unstructured play each day just like sleep. Even if that play is for 10 – 15 minutes. Sleep has been a challenge for me too recently. Having a regular bedtime routine 30 minutes before I go to sleep has helped me sleep better.
I hope this post has inspired you to look at the word wholehearted differently now. Maybe you will see as I did that living wholeheartedly takes courage but is well worth the daily effort. How will you incorporate more wholehearted living? I’d love to hear about it.