Three of My Wholehearted Daily Practices

Three of My Wholehearted Daily Practices

-and a bit about wholeheartedness-


Wholehearted People

…are people who are faced with the same circumstances as the rest of us, challenges and struggles, but make different choices in the moment… people who are living and loving with their whole heart.  – Brene Brown

I first ran across the term wholehearted on a ski trip to Vail, CO with my dad (remember that car time utilization?).  We got in the car and he said, “I’ve got something I’d like you to listen to for a bit, if you don’t like it we can turn it off, but I’d like for you to give it a chance.”  He turned on The Power of Vulnerability audio book by Brene Brown – it changed my life.

Sounds great, right?  I struggled.  A lot.  This was not an easy thing for me.  The idea that simply feeling that because you feel worthy of love and belonging you were… just like a light switch: flip it on and all of a sudden you’re worthy of love and belonging because you decided you were?!  It boggled my brain – enter several years of grappling with this concept.

In her audio book she goes through reasons that people make it to adulthood feeling like they’re not worthy of love and belonging.  A lot of it breaks down to self-talk; you have to speak to yourself as you would someone you love – tough right?  I would never, ever tell someone I love: loose some weight, then that guy you like will like you back…. but I totally said it to myself.  I would never ever call someone trying to learn something new obnoxious for asking a bunch of questions… but I called myself that.  There’s a portion where Brene is talking about learning scars, specifically around art and how we think of ourselves as learners that caused me to tear up because I too had a wound as a child that forever changed how I thought of myself as a learner.

When I was in second grade I had a teacher who I’m pretty sure hated me.  She had a whole bunch of rules I struggled with including when you could and couldn’t use the in class bathroom (which resulted in me vomiting on the popular girl who sat in front of me one day) and specifically for me about how many questions I could come ask her a day.  For some reason she was quite opposed to me coming to her desk to ask questions and so limited it to 3 a day.  At the time all I knew was that I didn’t feel like that was very nice or fair.  Now, I know my reaction was shame: I was ashamed of how I learned.  I know it was shame, even looking back years later, because as I was relating this story to my dad he said, “I never knew.”  Had I been humiliated or embarrassed it would have been accompanied by a dose of pissed-offedness (a Brene Brown term I adore) and my parents would have heard about it: since my reaction was shame, they didn’t.

Ten Guideposts for Wholehearted Living - Brene Brown

I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore.  In her book Brene goes through ten guideposts for wholehearted living –>  I took those and am implementing them in my life.  I want to share a couple of the ways I do it today centered around cultivating: self-compassion, gratitude and joy, and calm and stillness.

Cultivating self-compassion
-letting go of perfectionism-

Ugh.  I struggled.  Perfectionism was one of my favorite shields – I still struggle with this one, especially since I’ve got a major case of OCD.  This one, for me, was about the self-talk.  It’s about talking to myself like I would someone I love.  It’s about realizing that everyone’s struggling.  It’s about realizing that I am my own worst critic and that I deserve a break.  So I cultivate self-compassion on a daily basis two ways: the first is to be kind to myself with my words.  The second is also part of my daily cultivation of calm and stillness.  I mediate daily with some mantras that specifically address self-love and feeling like I’m enough.

Cultivating calm and stillness
-letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle-

Does this mean I’m not anxious? No, I wish.  I still get anxious I just try not to let that control my decisions.  I do two things to actively work on this, the first is that I wear a wrist mala and use it to meditate daily.  Meditating with a mala is usually a Buddhist tradition.  I actually learned in a meditation class.  Most of them have a guru bead (one that’s bigger than the rest – on my blue one it’s got the sparklies around it), it’s a bead you never go over; it’s where you stop and turn around.  Wrist malas like the ones I’ve got you generally go around three times per mantra.  I have two mantras: “I love myself” and “I am enough.”  That’s it: it plays right back into the self-talk from above.  I meditate every night before I go to bed and any time I’m feeling anxious…. like waiting in a doctors office.

My malas
My Malas

The second way that I cultivate calm and stillness in my life is to breathe and ask questions.  When someone comes to me with a problem or a concern like “we got a new boss and he’s totally out for our jobs,” I pause, take a nice deep breath or two and then ask a question to get more information.  It usually is something like, “why do you think he’s got it out for us.”  It gives me more information so I can try to make an informed decision about what it is I’d like to do.  It also helps me not react out of fear but instead choose to act according to the facts as I know them.

Cultivating gratitude and joy
-letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark-

The Happiness Project One Sentence JournalI do this a couple ways as well… I keep a gratitude journal.  Every night before I get in bed I write down one or two things I was grateful for that day.  Some days it’s that I’ve got a roof over my head and AC.  I found that within a few days of doing this I was waking up happier and going through my day with more energy  – because I was focusing on something positive and tangible before bed.  I use the 5 year one sentence journal from the Happiness Project because I think it’s cool to see what I was grateful for last year and the year before on the same day.  The daisy pen is just a bonus! 🙂

My newest gratitude and joy practice has been the creation of my Instagram account which was a bit of a surprise.  Not the creation of the account, the fact that it has helped cultivate gratitude and joy.  I post a photo at least once a day that contains something about my day.  Currently I’ve joined the 30 Days Wild campaign by the Wildlife Trusts in the UK so I’m doing a picture of something “wild” everyday.  It’s a bit of a challenge in a city in the desert but it makes me appreciate my surroundings so much more!


So there they are – active practices I use in my life to live more wholeheartedly cultivating gratitude, joy, calm, and self-compassion!  If you got something useful out of this please give it a thumbs up or share it on Faceboook – thanks!