Brief notes on Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection

Is there anything useful in this Brene Brown self-help book or is it all just mental gymnastics? But what’s wrong with mental gymnastics anyway? I wrote down a few notes.

Let go of what other people think…

Having kids with special needs (mental, physical, etc.) will definitely force you to do this. Raising them requires different techniques that will look “wrong” to outsiders and they WILL in turn judge you as a bad parent. Oh well.

Be self-aware of your symptoms and triggers. Write them down.

This is probably some of the best advice I found in the book. Common sense self-awareness help. You have got to write this stuff down because your memory will fail you in the moment.

Ordinary courage vs. heroics (not the same thing)
Ordinary courage makes everyone around us a little braver and the world better.

There is no giving without receiving.

The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.
Name the shame. Talk about it.

There is no selective numbing.

If you numb one thing, you numb everything. (With drugs, booze, binding TV, whatever)

Deliberate lists of crap to do every day (Like the “AEIOUY” list in one of the chapters) drive my crazy. Stupid acrostics? Check. Impossible to-do list? Check.

Take something off your list and add “take a nap”.

Much better advice. Something I’ve only learned as I near 40.

Joyful people “practice” gratitude.

Daily prayers or journaling gratitude. Execution over intention.

Ordinary does not equal boring. Boring does NOT equal meaningless.

This is one lesson I feel I HAVE learned (more of less) over the last couple decades. A lot of my work really is ordinary and boring. But I’m certain it’s not meaningless. I wrestled with this a lot when I was in my young twenties though.

There is no such thing as creative and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. As long as we’re creating, we are cultivating meaning.

The opposite of play is not work.
The opposite of play is depression.

I’m dying to freak out here! Do I have enough information to freak out! Will freaking out help? THe answer is always no.

Over-functioners try to rescue everyone and get in people’s business.

Not using our gifts leads to distress.

Don’t constrain “meaning” to a short list of acceptable things (like being rich and famous).

Near the end of the book, this classic self-help quote is unfurled:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

I’ve seen this quote lots of times. Sometimes it’s misattributed (like it is in Wild at Heart). I like it, but I also realize it’s a bit Disney-follow-your-heart. I like this guy’s analysis of it.

So overall, not a bad book, but very lightweight by design. I guess it reassured me that my own psychological hangups are not particularly unique or uncommon, which is good. The way forward is long and plodding though.

New ingredients

I’ve definitely been in a rut with cooking for… well the last decade at least. This week, due to a variety of factors, I decided to just bite the bullet and cook four completely new meals for dinner, all of them relatively healthy (lots of vegetables, low fat and low calorie). They all turned out OK, to my relief. It was fun to use new ingredients I had never touched before though. I’d seem them in the produce section of the store for years, but had always passed them by.

New ingredients used:

  • Poblano peppers
  • Frozen unprocessed salmon fillets
  • Tomato sauce completely from scratch (pureed fresh tomatoes and onions, etc.)
  • Hatch chili peppers
  • Ground Pasilla chili powder
  • Frozen riced cauliflower
  • Shiraki noodles


Degrees of freedom

Aphorism model: You can pick your nose, you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

A long time ago: You can’t pick your race, you can’t pick your wife, and you can’t pick your wife’s race.

Not so long ago: You can’t pick your race, you can pick your wife, but you can’t pick your wife’s race.

Recently: You can’t pick your race, you can pick your wife, and you can pick your wife’s race.

The woke future: You can pick your race and gender, you can pick your wife/husband/whatever, and they can pick their own race and gender.

Post eschaton: “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.”