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Book Review: Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Woman holding open book with a cup of tea and glasses on the table

While preparing reviews from books I have read lately, the first one that came to mind was Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. Reading the back cover, I was instantly reminded of The Little Book of Stoicism, and there I was on the counter, buying one of the most beautiful and empowering books I have ever read. I am inviting all the book lovers and all the practitioners of the stoic philosophy to add this book to their “must read” list.

Japanese Bestseller Answering to Existential Questions

Courage to Be Disliked is not a typical positivity book suggesting you to "do what you are" nor does it offer a cheap happiness hypothesis. It could be classified among books about mindset, but it is so much more. The book if offering answers to following questions: Can we be happy no matter the circumstances? Is our life and its course in our own hands? Are we defined by our past or merely our aspiration toward goals in the future? Can we live without confirmation from others?  

Based on Alfred Adler's Philosophical and Psychological Ideas

Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler are giants of the psychological world. Talking to my friends, I realized that most were familiar with Freud's and Jung's works but significantly less with Adler's.  This book is a summary of Adler’s most important philosophical and psychological ideas and learnings, shaped as a dialogue between the philosophers and a young man, a very usual educational method known from Socrates time.  

What Can You Expect From This Book?

Firstly, like all the best things in life, this book is very simple, yet deep. Unlike the usual approach to wisdom through complex language, authors of this book use simple language to explain profound thoughts and concepts. You might see yourself reflected in the character of a young man focused on making extreme efforts to justify his opinions. His gradual transformation will make you feel warm inside or, on occasions, feel his pain, just as I felt my shields melting. You will learn new terminology and concepts that have the potential to turn your world upside down. If you have already read philosophical books and stoics especially, some aspects will seem more than familiar. Still, you will be introduced to new thoughts that shape our thinking and acting. It might surprise you that the authors offer a theory that the lack of ability to change does not come from the absence of competence but rather absence of courage.  

A Single Takeout

If I need to choose a single thought that would summarize the entire book, for me it would be: “We always choose not to change.” The world is a simple place. We are making it complicated because of our subjective views. While we can decide upon our lives right here, right now, at any moment, we are choosing not to change. And that is where our misery is coming from. The endless circle of negative beliefs and uncertainty is stopping us from progress.  

In the End, It Comes Down to…

As I have interpreted this book, it is about accountability and ownership over our lives.  Saying anything more would spoil this book. But I will finish with the following as I can not resist convincing you to take this book in your hands: “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. Until now, you have turned away from the here and now and shone a light only on invented pasts and futures. You have told a great lie to your life, to these irreplaceable moments.” (Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga) Author: Nikolina Bogati

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