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My takeaway

Understanding life is about understanding the “separation of tasks”—which tasks are yours and which tasks aren’t? Only encourage, but never meddle with other people’s tasks; ultimately it’s not up to you. Focus on your own responsibility and concern yourself with what you have control over—that will lighten your load and make life simpler.

My notes

These are my informal notes from The Courage to be Disliked. It contains a mix of key highlights as well as my own thoughts and lessons.

  • None of us live in an objective world, but instead in a subjective world that we ourselves have given meaning to. The world you see is different from the one I see, and it’s impossible to share your world with anyone else.
  • The issue is not about how the world is, but about how you are.
  • Don’t think about past ‘causes’, but rather about present ‘goals’.
  • Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself, and you are the one who decides how you live.
  • Live without being controlled by the past.
  • Well water stays at pretty much the same temperature all year round, at about 18 degrees. That is an objective number—it stays the same to everyone who measures it. But when you drink the water in the summer it seems cool and when you drink the same water in the winter it seems warm. Even though it’s the same water, at the same 18 degrees according to the thermometer, the way it seems depends on whether it’s summer or winter.
  • You should arrive at answers on your own, and not rely upon what you get from someone else.
  • ‘The important thing is not what one is born with, but what use one makes of that equipment.’
  • Lifestyle is the tendencies of thought and action in life. Think of lifestyle as a concept bringing together ways of finding meaning. In a narrow sense, lifestyle could be defined as someone’s personality; taken more broadly, it is a word that encompasses the worldview of that person and their outlook on life. You choose your lifestyle.
  • When we try to change our lifestyles, we put our great courage to the test.
  • ‘No matter what has occurred in your life up to this point, it should have no bearing at all on how you live from now on.’
  • Being alone isn’t what makes you feel lonely. Loneliness is having other people and society and community around you, and having a deep sense of being excluded from them.
  • All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.
  • There is one good thing about subjectivity: it allows you to make your own choice.
  • Those who go so far as to boast about things out loud actually have no confidence in themselves.
  • The pursuit of superiority is the mindset of taking a single step forward on one’s own feet, not the mindset of competition of the sort that necessitates aiming to be greater than other people.
  • Don’t treat a child like an adult, or like a child, treat him like a human being.
  • When you are challenged to a fight, and you sense that it is a power struggle, step down from the conflict as soon as possible. Do not answer an action with a reaction.
  • Adler’s ‘life tasks’ consists of ‘tasks of work’, ‘tasks of friendship’ and ‘tasks of love’.
  • Do not live to satisfy the expectations of others.
  • We need to think with the perspective of ‘whose task is this?’ and continually separate one’s own tasks from other people’s tasks. One does not intrude on other people’s tasks.
  • Who ultimately is going to receive the end result brought about by the choice that is made?
  • You are the only one who can change yourself.
  • If you are leading a life of worry and suffering—which stems from interpersonal relationships—first, learn the boundary of ‘from here on, that is not my task’. And discard other people’s tasks. That is the first step toward lightening the load and making life simpler.
  • Freedom is being disliked by other people.
  • People who are incapable of carrying out the separation of tasks, and who are obsessed with the desire for recognition are also extremely self-centred.
  • A way of living in which one is constantly troubled by how one is seen by others is a self-centred lifestyle in which one’s sole concern is with the ‘I’.
  • It’s important to not judge other people. Judgement is a word that comes out of vertical relationships. If one is building horizontal relationships, there will be words of more straightforward gratitude and respect and joy.
  • The greatest life-lie of all is to not live here and now. It is to look at the past and the future, cast a dim light on one’s entire life, and believe that one has been able to see something.