While engaging in her usual grounded theory research on shame, fear, and vulnerability, Brené Brown came across an unexpected pattern of men and women living these incredible, wholesome lives. Determined to find what they all had in common, Brown set out on a new project that she named "Wholehearted." When it came down to it, the single most critical element Brown discovered these men and women shared was their love for themselves.

Completely inspired, Brown decided to write a guidebook on wholehearted living. She broke it down into ten easily digestible guideposts - each of which I'll cover briefly - of what to cultivate and of what to let go of to embark upon the lifelong journey of living wholeheartedly.

Brown defined wholehearted living as engaging in life from a position of worthiness: Beginning the day knowing that you are enough and ending the day recognizing you are brave and worthy of love and belonging. In order to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections to allow us to live that way, we have to turn to courage, compassion, and connection.

When practiced together daily, they become "The Gifts of Imperfection."

1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think

Authenticity isn't simply a way of being, it is a practice that you must consciously engage in daily. Instead of burdening yourself with who you think society wants you to be, focus on and embrace who it is that you truly are.

2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting go of perfectionism

Not only is the belief system of perfectionism addictive and self-destructive, it's unattainable.

We get stuck in perfectionism in hopes of avoiding having to experience the uncomfortable feelings of blame, judgment, and shame. Rebuke the need for perfectionism by putting words to your imperfections. Do so with a kind heart and without falling into fear and shame. Adopt a position of nonjudgment towards yourself and others.

Once you let go of perfectionism you can begin cultivating self-compassion. It has three elements: Self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness

Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity by means of protective factors that help you to bounce back. In order to build resilience, you have to trade powerlessness for hope and recognize that numbing your emotions results in more negative consequences than positive.

Contrary to what most people believe, hope is not an emotion but a thought process consisting of goals, pathways, and agency.

To have hope you must have the ability to set realistic goals, be able to figure out how to achieve those goals and be flexible enough to develop alternative routes, and believe in yourself. With hope, you can reclaim your power.

Humans experience an entire spectrum of emotions, and also contrary to commonly held beliefs, you cannot selectively numb what you are feeling. If you numb uncomfortable emotions you numb the positive, desirable ones as well.

4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark

Joy is not a limited commodity. Don't avoid basking in joyful moments out of fear that they won't last. Enjoy them while they are there. Living a joyful life is simple: All it requires is the active practice of gratitude.

Joy and gratitude are both spiritual practices dependent on the belief in human interconnectedness and on the existence of a power greater than us.

5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting go of the need for certainty

Our intuition doesn't simply tell us when we are right or what is and is not true. It informs us when we need more information as well. To be intuitive requires the ability to hold space for uncertainty and the willingness to trust our instinct, experience, faith, and reason: All of which are the means by which we have developed knowledge and insight.

Faith, on the other hand, is much more shrouded in mystery. To have faith we must find the courage to believe in things we cannot see and the strength to release our fear of uncertainty.

6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting go of comparison

Many people are much too quick to discount their ability to be creative. Creativity resides in all of us in various forms. Rather than spending your time and energy on comparing your life, skills, and gifts to those of other people, focus on developing your own world and life to look the way you want it to look, not the way you believe it's supposed to look. Get creative, and don't pretend that power to be creative isn't there.

7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth

We do this strange thing in our society where we find pride in constantly doing so much that we are completely and utterly exhausted. We swap stories with glee about just how tired we are and make a competition out of it. When you think about it it's extremely bizarre because we're deriving our value and worth by how miserable we are. What's the point of that?

Or, better yet, where's the fun in that? Studies have shown that engaging in play is just as essential to our functioning and to our health as getting enough sleep. Get intentional about incorporating sleep and play into your daily life and quit making yourself miserable in a wasted effort of trying to look good to others and feel better about yourself.

8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle

If you take a moment to pay attention to what you're experiencing internally and why you'll probably find that sometimes you're anxious for the sake of being anxious. Slowing down and allowing ourselves to be calm and still can be a scary concept. It forces us to experience and sit in our thoughts and feelings, which aren't always guaranteed to be pleasant. But neither is living in a constant state of anxiety.

Allow yourself to be calm: Manage your emotional reactivity mindfully and with perspective. Allow yourself to be still: Create an emotionally sparse clearing in which you can question and dream and think and feel.

9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of self-doubt and 'supposed to'

From a young age, we're taught two very conflicting ideas regarding our future careers. First, we're told we can be anything we want to be when we grow up. Then, we're told that some professions are superior to others and those are the ones we should strive for.

Stop questioning and agonizing over what you can and can't or should and shouldn't do. Instead, think about what it is that you want to do. Ask yourself four questions: What do you love? What are you good at? What can you get paid to do? What does the world need? Where the answers to those four questions intersect lies the career that will be most meaningful to you and make you feel complete and secure of your place in this world.

10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting go of being cool and 'always in control'

Sometimes we become so focused on how we are being perceived externally we forget that life is meant to be enjoyed. Laughter, song, and dance have been used all throughout human history to share our stories and emotions, express ourselves, celebrate and mourn, and build community. The action of laughter, song, and dance facilitate spiritual and emotional connection, ultimately reminding us of the existence of our most essential need: That we are not alone.

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