Book notes: The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga

The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga book summary review and key ideas.

The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life, and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga


The Courage to Be Disliked, already an enormous best seller in Asia with more than 3.5 million copies sold, demonstrates how to unlock the power within yourself to be the person you truly want to be.

Using the theories of Alfred Adler, one of the three giants of 20th-century psychology, The Courage to Be Disliked follows an illuminating conversation between a philosopher and a young man. The philosopher explains to his pupil how each of us is able to determine our own life, free from the shackles of past experiences, doubts, and the expectations of others. It’s a way of thinking that is deeply liberating, allowing us to develop the courage to change and to ignore the limitations that we and other people have placed on us. The result is a book that is both highly accessible and profound in its importance. Millions have already read and benefited from its wisdom. This truly life-changing audiobook will help you declutter your mind of harmful thoughts and attitudes, helping you to make a lasting change, achieve real happiness, and find success.” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

I’m pretty sure my friend Jae recommended this book to me. The synopsis sounds good but I’m excited to see what this book is all about.

Key notes:

  • The boy heard that there is a philosopher who thinks people can change, the world is simple, and that everyone can be happy
    • The youth finds that view unacceptable and wants to try to prove him wrong
  • Nothing is determined by past experiences
    • We determine our own lives according to the meaning we give to those past experiences
    • Your life isn’t something someone gives you, but something you choose yourself and you are the one who decides how you live
  • All problems are interpersonal relationship problems
Chapter 13: feelings of inferiority are subjective assumptions
  • Value is something based on a social contract
Chapter 14: an inferiority complex is just an excuse
  • Pursuit of superiority: people enter this world as helpless beings
    • People have the universal desire to escape from that helpless state
    • The feeling of inferiority can be a trigger for striving and growth
  • An inferiority complex is when someone uses the feelings as an excuse to not achieve or try
Chapter 15: braggarts have a feeling of inferiority
  • One way to compensate is fabricating feelings of superiority
Chapter 16: life is not a competition
  • A healthy feeling of inferiority comes from one’s comparison with one’s ideal self
Chapter 17: you’re the only one worrying about your appearance
  • Living in constant competition makes everyone your enemy
Chapter 18: from lower struggle to revenge
Chapter 19: admitting fault is not defeat
Chapter 20: overcoming the tasks that face you in life
Chapter 21: red string and rigid chains
  • In Adlerian psychology, self-reliance as an individual and cooperation within society are put forth as overarching objectives
Chapter 22: don’t fall for the life life
  • When we get to a point in a relationship where things about someone irritate us, it is not because they’ve changed, but our goal has changed and we’ve resolved for some reason to not be with that person, and we’re simply finding reasons to not be together
  • It is mainly an issue of courage when you avoid your life tasks and clinging to your life lies
Chapter 23: from the psychology of possession to the psychology of practice
Chapter 24: deny the desire for recognition
  • One must not seek recognition from others
Chapter 25: do not live to satisfy the expectations of others
  • Living to meet other people’s expectations means you throw away who you really are and live other people’s lives
Chapter 26: how to separate tasks
  • All interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other people’s tasks or having one’s own tasks intruded on
  • Forcing change while ignoring the person’s intentions will only lead to an intense reaction
    • You are the only one who can change yourself
Chapter 27: discard other people’s tasks
Chapter 28: how to rid yourself of interpersonal relationship problems
Chapter 29: cut the Gordian knot
  • Children who have not been taught to confront challenges will try to avoid all challenges
Chapter 30: desire for recognition makes you unfree
Chapter 31: what real freedom is
  • Freedom is being disliked by other people
    • It is a sign that you are living in accordance with your own freedoms
  • Don’t be afraid of being disliked
Chapter 32: you hold the cards to interpersonal relationships
  • When one is tied to the desire for recognition, the interpersonal relationship cards will always stay in the hands of other people
Chapter 33: individual psychology and holism
Chapter 34: the goal of interpersonal relationship is a feeling of community
Chapter 35: why am I only interested in myself
  • Worrying about the way others look at you is a form of self-centeredness
  • It’s necessary to make the switch from attachment to self to concern for others
Chapter 36: you are not the center of the world
  • Commitment to the community is thinking not “what will this person give me?” but rather “what can I give to this person?
Chapter 37: listen to the voice of a larger community
Chapter 38: do not rebuke or praise
  • The act of praise is the passing of judgement by a person of ability on a person of no ability
  • Praising creates a hierarchical relationship, and it’s used to manipulate someone who has less ability, but done out of gratitude or respect
Chapter 39: the encouragement approach
  • Neither praise nor rebukes. This assistance based on horizontal relationships is referred to as encouragement
  • Being praised is what leads people to form the belief that they have no ability
Chapter 40: how to feel you have value
  • When one is able to feel “I am beneficial to the community” that one can have a true sense of one’s worth
Chapter 41: exist in the present
Chapter 42: people cannot make proper use of self
  • Relationships can either be vertical or horizontal
    • Only horizontal relationships are healthy (even between bosses and subordinates, or colleagues or family)
Chapter 43: excessive self consciousness stifles the self
Chapter 44: not self affirmation, self acceptance
  • 3 things are needed:
    1. Self-acceptance
    2. Confidence in others
    3. Contribution to others
  • Self-acceptance is focusing on what one can change rather than on what one cannot
    • Accept this me just as it is and have the courage to change what one can change
Chapter 45: the difference between trust and confidence
  • Trust is based on set conditions, whereas confidence is based on belief unconditionally without concerning oneself on such things as security
  • If you are afraid to have confidence in others in the long run, you’ll not be able to build deep relationships with anyone
  • Gaining the courage to enter into deeper relationships by having confidence in others that the joy of ones interpersonal relations can grow and ones joy in life can grow too
Chapter 46: the essence of work is a contribution to the common good
  • Contributing to others is for oneself
    • There is no need to sacrifice the self
Chapter 47: young people walk ahead of adults
Chapter 48: workaholism is a life lie
Chapter 49: you can be happy now
  • “What is happiness?” and “how can one be happy?”
  • For a human being, the greatest unhappiness is not being able to like oneself
    • A feeling of “I am beneficial to the community” or “I am of use to someone” is the only thing that can give one a true awareness that one has worth
  • Happiness is the feeling of contribution
  • People seek recognition because they want to feel like themselves
    • They want to feel like they have worth
    • In order to feel that, they want a feeling of contribution that tells them “I am of use to someone” and they seek recognition from others as an easy means for gaining that feeling of contribution
  • There is no freedom in a feeling of contribution that is gained through the desire for recognition
    • We are beings who choose freedom while aspiring to happiness
  • A person who is obsessed with the desire for recognition does not have any community feeling yet and has not managed to engage in self acceptance, confidence in others, or contribution to others
Chapter 50: two paths traveled by those wanting to be “special beings”
Chapter 51: the courage to be normal
Chapter 52: life is a series of moments
  • Life is a series of moments called “now” and we can only live in the here and now
Chapter 53: live like you’re dancing
Chapter 54: shine a light on the here and now
  • If you are living earnestly here and now, you will not be concerned with the future or past
Chapter 55: the greatest life lie
  • The greatest life lie of all is to not live in the here and now
    • To look at the past and future, to cast a dim light on one’s entire life and believe that one is able to see something
Chapter 56: give meaning to seemingly meaningless life
  • Whatever meaning life has must be assigned to it by the individual
  • Happiness comes from contribution to others
    • This is the guiding star, even if others dislike you
  • Philosophy refers not to wisdom, but to love of wisdom
    • It is very process of learning what one does not know and arriving at wisdom that is important
    • Whether or not one attains wisdom in the end is not an issue.

Main ideas / Themes:

Freedom &relationships

  • All problems are interpersonal relationship problems
  • One must not seek recognition from others
  • Freedom is being disliked by other people
  • Only horizontal relationships are healthy

The main premise of this book is that all problems are cause by interpersonal relationships. Most of our unhappiness stems from a lack of freedom because we are so dependent on the recognition of others to be happy. The wise man explains having the ability to be fine with being disliked gives us so much freedom. Relationships based on these horizontal concepts are more likely to be sustained and much healthier for both parties.

Self-acceptance & change

  • You are the only one who can change yourself
  • Self-acceptance is focusing on what one can change rather than on what one cannot

These two points are important because self-acceptance I believe is one of the hardest things many of us struggle with. We should know that change always comes from the self. It’s like the Serenity Prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”

Serenity Prayer


  • The greatest unhappiness is not being able to like oneself
  • Happiness is the feeling of contribution to others
  • The greatest life lie of all is to not live in the here and now

I think most if not all of us strive to be happy. However, very few of us really know what truly makes us happy, not to mention what happiness really is. I love this definition because it reminds me of Tony Robbins’ explanation. He says something along the lines of happiness coming from “celebration & contribution”. Two more aspects I believe are growth and gratitude. If we have those things, I think we’ll inherently be very happy and fulfilled.


  • Philosophy refers not to wisdom, but to love of wisdom. It is the process of learning what does not know and arriving at wisdom

Pretty straightforward point. Contrary to a mainstream conception of philosophy, I agree with this definition. Philosophy is a love of wisdom, or a pursuit of learning and acquiring truth.

Closing thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. A lot of profound concepts that are consistent with many other personal development books. It touches a root issue with the human condition which is happiness. I really enjoy that it puts an emphasis on the individual taking responsibility for their happiness.

Many times people like to blame others or their circumstances on their happiness. However, all we can do is focus on what we can control. But even then, what we can control is usually a lot more than we think. We can control how we perceive others, how we perceive ourselves, how much ego we put into interactions, and how much we care about the recognition of others. We don’t realize that our happiness comes from within and is already within our power to obtain/reveal.

I also appreciated that the book presented this knowledge/wisdom in a very digestible way. It gives us the goods by means of a conversation with a brash youth and a wise man. I know that the youth is meant to represent our hesitation to embrace a paradigm outside of our own, but many times I found myself irritated at how resistant he was to something different than his own way of thinking. One of my pet peeves is when people are so negative, pessimistic, and close-minded, so I think his personality really irritated me. But I understand that the point was to further drive the conversation.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it to almost anyone as these concepts are something all people struggle with at one point or another.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

While there are many gold nuggets of wisdom that I feel are more important than my chosen takeaway, I selected this one because it was a new concept to me that I want to start implementing:

  • The use and application of horizontal relationships

The book talks about how horizontal relationships are not based on praise or rebukes, but on assistance through encouragement. This applies even to seemingly hierarchical relationships like between parents-kids, bosses-employees, teachers-students, etc. Not putting yourself above another by encouraging and assisting generates a healthier and more long-term/sustainable relationship.

This is something I’m starting to apply by changing the way I look at and approach relationships. I want to do this by refraining from praising or rebuking, but rather by encouraging.


A youth and wise man discuss what causes problems in our lives, what happiness is, and how to obtain it.

Similar books:


Rating: 4 out of 5.


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