I remember being intrigued when I heard someone praising this book as an astonishingly revolutionary book. This book contains groundbreaking philosophical ideals that question everything about how we live our modern life.

I wasn’t desperate to lie out a path to achieve eternal happiness or anything. I was just curious about what it is about.

When I finally read it, I was pleasantly surprised by what this book offered, though that wasn’t what I was expecting. This book offered some unique and relevant answers to problems that I didn’t have answers to before. Although it is sure to say that this is not quite mind-numbingly insightful as I was expecting.

If you are not familiar with this book, then where should we start?

I will tell you the contents of this article so that you can skim over these words quickly.

So let’s get started.

1. Book Details

Author: Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
Originally published:12 December 2013
Category: Nonfiction
Genre: Self-help book

Okay, Let me give you a teeny-tiny summary of the book!

2. Book Summary

  • The courage to be disliked is a book that revolves around the question of how to achieve true happiness. This book tries to challenge the existing social norms on how to live a good life, which we are conditioned to think as normal.
  • The book put forth Alfred Adler’s philosophical and psychological ideas and teaching as a solution to our life’s deepest and great problems. The book argues Adler has straightforward answers to all our dilemmas.
  • The structuring of the book is done as a deep conversation between a philosopher who believes that this world is kind, life is easy, and a young man who thinks that life is tough and this world is cruel. This book slowly drifts around questions that all of us at some point in our life might have asked and solutions to them as dialogues between the two.

3. Who should read The Courage To Be Disliked?

If you are a person who is interested in pondering philosophical ideologies that don’t easily fit in your worldview and want to find fresh ways to make sense of the world around, then you might want to read this one.

If you easily get bored with philosophical dilemmas and convinced that book theories can’t bring you happiness, then you probably don’t want to spend too much time with this one.

Let’s dive deep into the book.

4. My book notes

These are some interesting ideas I found out in the books that might be useful to you as well.

Separation of Tasks:

Separation of tasks is an idea put forth in this book that very much similar to Stoicism. We are often affected by other’s actions, and this is an idea that tries to solve this problem of getting hurt by others.

The task is any action, and whatever actions that are in your control are your tasks, and whatever actions are under my control are my tasks. You should not get affected by my tasks and I shouldn’t get affected by your task as both are out of our control.

An example would be if someone made fun of you, you should not get upset by it as it is not under your control. Whatever the other person said is his task and you can do nothing about it whether or not you approve it.

Removing Reward:

Our society has reached a point where rewarding an action is just reasonable. If you look closely, we can see that this is a problematic mindset as you are doing the action for the reward, not because it is the right thing to do. We should be able to course our action based on whether it is the right thing to do, not based on whether it is rewarding.

An example of this would be if you have been picking litter around the workplace. If no one cared or given any appreciation for what you are doing, you would probably lose your motivation to do it. That is why it is important to look past the reward and punishment system and do what is righteous to you.

Being free

We all have natural desires and instinctive impulses, all these take away our freedom of will. A nice analogy would be if you consider yourself to be a stone rolling downhill. We have to act a certain way because of our biases and desires.

Freedom is having the ability to travel uphill if you want to, to act against our natural inclination if necessary. When you are truly become free and exercise your freedom, there will be people who dislike you. When you think about it, there will be people who dislike you no matter what you do, that’s why it’s important not to be liked by all.

Freedom requires the courage to be disliked by some. That is a sign that you are free. Have the courage to be disliked by others.

Now you probably know how the book got its name.

Solving existential crisis

This was a heading that got me excited but had to settle with a very theoretical answer.

This book says that existential crisis arises from the situation when you feel you are not part of anything. It is that void that eventually turns to grow into a black hole of emptiness.

At the end of the day, all of us need a feeling of belonging. We need to define our tribe or community. When defining that, always define yourself in the universe’s community. Don’t define your identity in a temporary community.

Don’t limit yourself to a smaller community, as you will only act in favor of that community. Think that you belong to the universe and your actions should be for the collective wellbeing of the universe, no matter what.

Rebukes and Praises

We live in a world where everyone wants to get praised for their excellence and corrected for their mistakes. This creates a vertical hierarchy.

Giving praises means you are judging the other person, so you are superior and this creates a vertical relationship. Then the other person would want to act to generate more praises, which means acting on the other person’s wishes.

We should aim to generate a culture in which we see everyone as equals and as our comrades. Express your gratitude for their work, not your review. Say thank you instead of well done.

Finding value in everyone

We find value in ourselves when we feel we are contributing to a community.

I felt valuable when I felt like I’m contributing to my family. I felt proud when my family needed me and handed me serious responsibilities.

But the book suggests a different framework for this. Alfred Adler talks about the value of existing. A person has value merely by their presence and not by their actions.

Our issue with finding value arises from looking for actions and deeds. We need to find value in existence. If someone close to you is at risk, you would feel concerned for them. You will be happy when they are safe. So there is value in existence.

We should be able to value someone, even if they have done no extraordinary deeds. We should be able to wholeheartedly accept them and appreciate them for their efforts.

You can only be able to treat everyone as equals if you can find value in existence, not from deeds.


This will sound very familiar when I say I couldn’t perform very well because of something. If it weren’t for something, I would have performed very well there.

I have thought this way, you might have thought this way as well.

The book says that there are two states: self-affirmation and self-acceptance.

Self-affirmation is claiming that you are invincible, and it is because of something that you couldn’t perform very well.

Self-acceptance is knowing your weakness and accepting your failure and working on improving them.

We have to develop the clarity to know what is under our power to change and what’s not under our power that we just have to accept.

We need to have the wisdom to accept the things we can’t change and make the best out of the things that are under our power.

Focus on giving, not taking:

Imagine that you and someone else are roommates and you are cooking food every day and that person is not helping you.

Under normal circumstances, you would think that the other person has not done enough and that they take advantage of you here. This will lead to a lot of conflicts between the both of you.

This book proposes a view in which we focus on giving, not on what others are offering. We should be concerned with contributing to the community. We should be able to find happiness from our contribution to the community.

I don’t fully agree with this as this view promotes exploitation. I have in my life been in a situation where I felt others are not doing enough, and I felt like being taken advantage of. This put me in a very negative mindset and felt angry and disturbed by it.

Only later did I realize I wanted to help but was helpless about it. Now, in light of this insight, I see that the best thing to do was to find happiness in my contribution. Though that wouldn’t ease my efforts, at least that would have put me in a good mood and help me have a good time with my friends.

So focusing on giving is very important. Though this book suggests unconditional altruism, I would very much suggest conditional altruism.

Trust others unconditionally:

This idea might sound like an easy shortcut for sorrow and heartbreaks. But what the book argues and what I picked up from my life as well is the importance of finding the courage to embrace the vulnerability of getting hurt.

Only when you embrace that vulnerability is when you can truly find more deep connections with others. Of course, you will get hurt by others.

If you stop trusting others and cast others away, then you will forever lose the possibility of forming genuine human connections again.

Understand that trusting others is your task and whether they break your trust is their task and there is nothing you can do about it. You should do your task regardless of other’s actions and continue to trust.

Workaholism is a life lie:

Most of us might think that workaholism is a good attribute, but it is not an excellent quality to have. Being a workaholic differs from being hard working. Hard-working encompasses everything, while workaholism only encompasses work.

People who are workaholics are people who don’t accept the harmony of life. They just focus only on one aspect of life (work!).

They are trying to avoid or hide from their other responsibilities of life by using work as an excuse.

Try to embrace all aspects of your life, not just work.

Courage to be normal:

This might shatter all of our hopes and dreams, but let me spit it out for you. Most of us will not be prodigy, but a deeply average person.

So how does this depressing insight going to help us?

If all we want is to be a genius, then we may not accept our ordinary self. It’s important that we accept our normal self rather than chasing extremes.


If we can’t be the best we might very well choose to be worse at it as that is also an extreme.

It takes courage to accept our flaws and imperfections. Have that courage.

Live life as if you were dancing:

This is my favorite one in the book, and it has a beautiful analogy.

Life is a collection of small moments that connect with each other. We believe we need destinations in life and would struggle to find them. Once we find some destination, then we would be desperate to take the shortest path to reach that destination. But life is more like dancing.

What does that mean?

This might sound a bit cliché but bear with me. Living like dancing means it’s about being fully present in that moment, making the best out of what you got. It’s very easy to get distracted in the past or future, not fully being in the present. In dancing, you are not caught up in your past or thinking about your future moves, you will be in the present trying to perfect your present move.

That is how you should live.

You should be aware of the moments and focus on what you need to do now. Even if you don’t arrive at your expected destination, you still would reach somewhere and your life would still go on as before. Your destination is a mere direction.

You needn’t know where your life is heading, just live in the present doing what you can and accept whatever the future has for you.

If you travel to Paris, you don’t reach the Eiffel Tower as soon as possible and then take the next flight back. Your journey starts when you step out of your home and enjoy it from that moment onwards, then even if you didn’t get to see Eiffel Tower, your journey would still be a memorable one. So enjoy every moment and dance without worrying about the future.

Check out the book if you want to go much deeper into the details of these ideas.

5. Do I Recommendation this book?

This book claimed to make my life happier, but for me, I got some takeaways to help to live a more fulfilling life. Some ideas were novel to me, but some were variations of other ideas.

The book being a dialogue between a philosopher and a young man is more interesting than plain theories. But an issue I felt is that sometimes it was harder to find the crux of the idea as it was dispersed in the conversation.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t transformative as it claimed to be, but we have to be realistic here as well.

If you enjoy life philosophies, then you might enjoy this one as well. Try it if you found the notes section interesting and were curious to find out more.

6. My Rating

Rating: 🌕🌕🌕 (3/5)

Rating :  (3.5/5

7. Where to find the book?

Here is the amazon link for ‘The Courage To Be Disliked’ if you are interested in buying one.

Click here to go to the Amazon page.

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