The Courage to be disliked by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga

This book is based on Adlerian Psychology that one of the authors, Ichiro Kimishi practices and teaches. The second author, Fumitake Koga, encountered this psychology and met Kimishi in Tokyo where he practices the same. The former is a teacher of Philosophy and Psychology while the latter is a renowned business author. And the two joined together to bring Japan’s ancient wisdom to the world in this first English book by the duo.



Author : Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga
Originally Published :2018
Publication : Atria Books
Pages : 260
Genre(s) : Non-Fiction, Self-Help, Business and Personal Development

For the uninitiated, Adlerian Psychology is based on the works by eminent psychologist Alfred Adler who pioneered the thought of Individual Psychology. It believed that an individual’s feelings and behavior must be understood in context with his life experiences. The book is narrated as a dialogue between the philosopher and his young disciple who has plenty of questions about humans and (their) lives. One would be tempted to think, and rightly so, that this dialogue is between Kimishi and Koga.

Emotions are unfounded

The philosopher is refuting the disciple’s claims by saying that anyone can change. According to him, we humans decide on our goals on how we want to feel about something and then go on justifying the goal based on past experiences and the possibility of them occurring again in the future. This phenomenon, called ‘Teleology’ in Adlerian Psychology, is based on the notion that purpose is more important than causes. Take the case of a situation when you get angry owing to a stimulus. It is your goal to shout at the person so that you get an upper-hand in this situation and hence to take the help of the justification for your shouting by saying that you shouted because you were angry. Anger (feeling) becomes the justification for your shouting (behavior). Hence, the philosopher ends by saying that emotions are just the tools used to achieve goals of behavior.

You get shocked when he says that unhappiness is a choice we make. Then people feel it works for them to be unhappy because that justifies their behavior of depression, laziness, anger and many other things. Now they can shrug all responsibility and put the blame on the feeling of unhappiness to justify their behaviors. Hence, they refuse to change. The best part is, they can change, after all. Anybody can change, at any time. But people stay put in a time warp because they lack the courage to change, to be happy.

Everything inferior is subjective and an excuse

Inferiority is subjective, says the philosopher, to something which we accept as benchmarks. Would we consider ourselves as less or more in height, beauty, intelligence or strength, had we been living alone in the universe? Then why don’t we live ‘alone’ in the universe? Which is not to mean to live a lonely life but a life where we separate ourselves from comparing with others. We decide to feel inferior which kind of masks our lack of courage to rise in other aspects of life. We keep blaming our lack of intelligence to being the reason why we can’t succeed. But is a success only dependent on intelligence? It is we who decide that we can’t succeed. It’s as if we don’t want to succeed for fear of failure. This ‘I can’t succeed’ then becomes their identity of misfortune in which they seek refuge.

Key takeaways

The book throws up many gems for us which we can capture as professionals.

  • That we love to strive to succeed because we see the whole world as enemies and competitors
  • The way we’re raised creates out mindset. Those who shaped our personality are different people and those on whom we take revenge for the way we are later in life, are completely different people.
  • All problems (or most of them) rise out of interpersonal relationships
  • Admitting fault is not defeat
  • Following just two objectives of life- to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society,
  • The need for recognition from others at every point in life is the reason for much misery
  • Only we can change ourselves, the moment we decide to do this
  • The true freedom is being disliked by others because it means you’re living on your own principles.
  • The feeling of being part of a larger community is enough to develop horizontal relationships and not to strive to develop vertical relationships
  • It takes courage to be happy.
  • Life is a series of moments. There is no past to carry baggage around and there is no future yet. Whatever there is, is in the now.

Why I recommend this book

Because I found it fascinating to put all accepted notions about life, self, and community to toss. I realized that what Adlerian Psychology the authors are trying to tell is that it all starts and stops with us. We decide what we want to do with our lives. How much courage we show to be what we want to be decides how we fare in life

Read this book if you, like many others, suffer from an inflated ego and have heavy baggage from past experiences to carry that is hindering your search for self.

Read also to enjoy the simplistic yet profound method of a dialogue that clears all your doubts.

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