What the book is about

The book describes 10 goalposts that Brown recommends for what she calls "wholehearted living" based on her work as a shame & vulnerability researcher. She defines wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It's a process, not a one time choice. This mantra summarises the concept in some ways - "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough."


  1. Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running away from it.
  2. You get courageous by doing courageous acts. You learn courage by "couraging", not merely by thinking or philosophising about it. The same is true for compassion & connection.
  3. Shame loves secrecy. But it can't survive being shared. We need to share our shame stories but only with those who have earned the right to hear it, someone who we know can respond with compassion.
  4. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer & the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. It becomes real when we recognise our shared humanity. ~Pema Chodron
  5. Compassionate people have strong & clear boundaries. They separate the person from the behaviour & hold them accountable without playing the shame & blame game.
  6. Until we learn to receive with an open heart, we can't truly give with an open heart. When we attach judgement to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgement to giving help.
  7. Fitting in & belonging are two very different things. Fitting in gets in the way of belonging.
  8. Love is a practice, it is about action. There is significant difference between "professing" love and "practising" love.
  9. Shame is a universal human emotion, we all experience it. And we are all afraid to talk about it. The less we talk about it, the more control it has over our lives.
  10. Guilt = I did something bad.   Shame = I AM bad.
  11. Cruelty is never brave. It is mostly cheap and easy, especially anonymous cruelty. Especially in today's culture.
  12. Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism. It says - "I am what I accomplish & how well I accomplish it". Perfectionism is unattainable and self destructive. It's an illusion.
  13. Belief in persistence & hard work is a key ingredient in hopeful thinking. The new cultural belief that everything should be fast & easy, is actually inconsistent with hopeful thinking. It sets us up for hopelessness especially when we come across something that needs significant time & effort.
  14. Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we actually are. Not just an attitude, a practice.
  15. To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart doesn't come with guarantees. These are risks that involve vulnerability & pain. They are also essential for wholehearted living.
  16. When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose our capacity for joy as well. We cannot selectively numb ourselves.
  17. The constant need for certainty is the reason we refuse to trust out intuition.
  18. Conforming & competing are part of the same game - be just like everyone else, but better.
  19. Respecting our biologically programmed need for "play" can transform work. It can bring back excitement, & newness to our job. It helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft & is an essential part of the creative process. True play comes from our own inner needs & desires. In the long run, work does not work without play.
  20. In a world that values the primacy of work, the answer to "what do you do" can compel us to reduce ourselves to an easily digestible sound bite. Resist that. When someone asks you "what do you do", ask them "how much time do you have?"
  21. Laughter, song & dance are essential for wholehearted living.

Image Credit:  fotografierende on Unsplash

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