Agnes Repplier says, "It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves and it is not possible to find it elsewhere." I think in many ways this is true. Like that saying, "Wherever you go there you are" which I believe originated with Confucius. If we are to find peace, joy, happiness it will be within our own souls. Even though we have a personal faith in God and practice spiritual disciplines there is also work that we must do within ourselves.
A few months ago I heard Dr. Brene Brown speak on a podcast from Tapestry Radio based in Canada. This particular podcast was entitled TO ERR IS HUMAN. Brene Brown discusses the results of many years of research which led her to write a book called, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Suppose to Be and Embrace Who You Are.
The first paragraph of the bio on Brene Brown's Website says this:
"Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Brené spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness."
I knew that I would want to read this book, so I purchased the book and really enjoyed reading it. In the Introduction of her book she talks a lot about what she found and came to understand through her years of research and explains what she means by WHOLE HEARTED LIVING and helps us understand what this will look like in the real world. Dr. Brown explores what she has learned about perfectionism and the destructive and additive thought process that is prominent in society and in our lives. She defines how "Healthy striving is self-focused--How can I improve? Perfectionism is other focused--What will they think?" As Dr. Brown began to understand the lessons and ideas she discovered from her research she began to apply them to her own life. She began to understand and redefine certain terms in a way that makes them clearer.For example her definition of connection: She says, "I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship." That makes sense to me.
Dr. Brown explains how truly compassionate people are people with healthy social boundaries. She says, "It is difficult to accept people when they are hurting us, taking advantage of us or walking all over us. Her research led her to believe that if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their behavior.
Dr. Brown's book contains 10 Guideposts in helping us understand how we can become more compassionate towards ourselves and others. I think Dr. Brown is onto something here. I love the idea of perceiving our imperfections as a gift and making peace with ourselves as we are and at the same time making peace with the imperfections of others. This removes a lot of the self-imposed stress we inadvertently make for ourselves when we seek perfection in our work, our relationships, and in so many other areas of our lives. In the midst of this we continue to seek to grow and change in ways that will improve us and our world.
I want to close with a short video of Madeleine L'Engle sharing what she understands as the meaning of to "be perfect" as we are told to be in the Bible. I love what she says here. Peace, Jeanne
Click on the link: It last only 29 seconds including a brief commercial. Thanks!
Madeleine L'Engle: What Perfection Means - Video- Beliefnet.com