Kishimi and Koga’s was a bestseller across Asia with more than 3 million copies sold. It is an analysis of 19th-century psychologist Alfred Adler alongside Freud and Jung.
The entire book’s format is a conversation between a skeptical and somewhat bitter student and a reclusive Philosopher. Throughout the book, the boy undergoes a transition and gets a new outlook on life based on the philosophy of the book. The conversations take place over a number of days and use the conversational manner much like the old Greek philosophers did as a way to present ideas and perspectives. I thought this actually made for an easy read.
A lot of the topics discussed are initially around etiology vs teleology. There are two underlying themes throughout the book, 1 the idea that you have a certain issue or problem because of a traumatic event in your past or 2 you are creating your own problems because it serves another underlying purpose. Being confronted with these two options serves as a great reminder to always acknowledge and analyze your emotions and to react consciously. As you delve deeper into this topic you are often left asking yourself if you are looking to find some imagined flaw to serve your current state of emotion. Focus on yourself, you might be looking to find flaws in yourself on purpose…
A really interesting concept, that sounds incredibly simple is “the separation of tasks”. It essentially sets out to explain that what other people think about you is their task and that you can’t do anything about it. If you start living your life in a manner in which you hope to get people to like you or for recognition you start living your life for others and neglect your own tasks. This is connected to the idea that all problems are interpersonal (relationship) problems and that once you learn to let go of other people’s tasks, like their opinion of you, and focus on yourself you will free yourself of a lot of unnecessary stress.
Lastly, without giving too much away, something that resonated with me was “horizontal relationships”. A vertical relationship is hierarchical like parent-child, boss-employee. Horizontal relationships, however, put everyone on equal footing which in turn promotes the idea of having confidence in others. Instead of delivering instructions, as you would in a vertical relationship, rather unpack or explain certain outcomes and consequences. Then give the trust and freedom for people to make their own choices.
One of our most dangerous beliefs is that our past determines our future
Even if you could unpack all your trauma and flaws and trace them all the way back to childhood, so what? You can only change them now, in the present. What’s done is done. You have to believe that something different can happen in order to break old patterns. Life is not a single timeline, more a series of events. Right now is a new moment and you are a new man/woman, and you can choose this new outlook at any point in time.
You care too much about what everyone else thinks
As I get older I seem to care less and less about what people think about me. This book just re-confirms that in reality, it’s so seldom that people care about you.
Everyone needs to see that they add value
It’s not that everyone needs to be praised, recognized or patted on the back. This speaks to the intrinsic motivation and drive that we all have within us. We all have a powerful drive that is harnessed and fueled by seeing the value that our actions can yield.
Really great book, something I’m sure I’ll keep revisiting from time to time.