The Road Less travelled is an extraordinary book about life and it’s challenges. Possibly because it is written by a psychiatrist who has delved deep into specific cases and profound insights of his clients - finding the very base cause for their struggles, unhappiness and confusion. From that, he suggests that facing our difficulties and the acceptance of some sort of suffering can reach a higher level of understanding ourselves. This book connects psychology and spirituality, showing how closely they work together.
Personally, I found most of the value in the beginning of the book - especially the sections about discipline and love. To be completely honest, the last sections on growth, religion and grace didn’t speak to me as much as the first two chapters that seemed to provide a lot of takeaways that can be practically applied for a happier and more fulfilled living. There were points later on in the book that I disagreed with to some level or simply couldn’t relate to some of the ideas as they seemed somewhat too radical and a little too outdated (keeping in mind this book was written in the 70ies).
Apart from that, this book has lots of thought-provoking insights and thought patterns that you can apply to this day. And it’s definitely worth picking up, even for the first 170-something pages. Without further ado, here are some highlights from this book that really spoke to me and I thought are extremely helpful when it comes to having a better understanding of certain challenges and why we respond to life the way we do.
LIFE IS COMPLICATED
One of the biggest takeaways from this book was the thought that pain and suffering we experience is in most cases caused by ourselves trying to avoid our problems. However, in order to grow spiritually and mentally, we have to face and solve them.
Get comfortable with life being difficult. Accept that there are no shortcuts. Accept that you will have to make challenging decisions and have hard conversations. Once you accept that, it simply is easier to handle all the difficulties coming your way, solve them and grow mentally and spiritually while you do so. Don't expect life to be easy - get comfortable with solving problems instead.
This is a truly valuable thought for myself personally. When things don't go as planned, my first reaction is emotional, it can be overwhelming and I can start feeling a lot of discouragement and a sense of failure at times. However, most of the time it's just life throwing it's challenges at us to help us grow, to make us learn.
“What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Problems, depending upon their nature, evoke in us frustration or grief or sadness or loneliness or guilt or regret or anger or fear or anxiety or anguish or despair.”
Looking back at each and every situation now, I know that it is all a test and now that these situations have been solved, they don't seem as big as they did in the moment. There is always a solution to every problem. It's about accepting it and making the best possible decision you can in that time and space.
“It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth, of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage human capacity to solve problems. It is though the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.”
PROBLEM SOLVING, TRUTH & RESPONSIBILITY
When it comes to dealing with problems, dedication to truth plays a huge role. The more clearly we can see the situations, the better we deal with them. The less clearly we see the reality - the more we are confused by falsehood and misperceptions. That, of course, means that we will have less understanding of how to make the right decisions with moving forward and solving issues. Love this comparison of our reality being a map:
“Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. if the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are , and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.”
Another way to a less overwhelming and "easier" way of solving problems, is taking a full responsibility of everything that happens to you.
I love this bold paragraph of one of Scott Peck’s patient cases where he has a conversation with a young wife in Okinawa who has cut her wrist with a razor blade and was brought to the emergency room. The conversation started with S. Peck asking why she had done this to herself.
“To kill myself, of course.”
“Why do you want to kill yourself?”
“Because I can’t stand it on this dumb island. You have to send me back to the States. I’m going to kill myself if I have to stay here any longer.”
“What is it about living on Okinawa that’s so painful for you?”
“I don’t have any friends here, and I’m alone all the time.”
“That’s too bad. How come you haven’t been able to make any friends?”
“Because I have to live in a stupid Okinawan housing area, and none of my neighbours speaks English.”
“Why don’t you drive over to the American housing area, or to the wives’ club during the day so you can make some friends?”
“Because my husband has to drive the car to work.”
“Can’t you drive him to work, since you’re alone and bored all day?”
“No. It’s a stick-shift car, and I don’t know how to drive a stick-shift car, only an automatic.”
“Why don’t you learn how to drive a stick-shift car?”
“On these roads? You must be crazy.”
The message couldn't be clearer - excuses and avoidance to take responsibility and solve the problem that is in this woman's way. This paragraph actually shows a great question-answer type of exercise that you can try yourself. When you are down about something and there is something in the way of your happiness, ask yourself similar questions - Why am I feeling this way? What is causing this? What can I do myself to change this situation? What am I willing to sacrifice? What new things can I learn/do/implement to overcome this?
You stop dwelling on things that are really out of your control and you just focus on what YOU can do to improve the situation. It's the best way to avoid so many negative aspects that can bring you down - anger, envy, comparison, guilt, etc. The commitment to taking a full responsibility for everything that's happening in our lives is an absolute game changer.
I'm really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this book and the highlights that you have taken from this book. Please leave a comment below - would love to get to know you better and be inspired by your thoughts/experience :)
Thank you so much for being a part of the Dear Diary Book Club. We love reading your thoughts, highlights, takeaways and also you sharing your experiences. You are all so inspiring and it's such a pleasure getting to know you better. Thank you for being here and hopefully soon we can take this book club to an in-person meeting and talking all afternoon/evening long with a side of coffee/tea.
To celebrate 3 months of the Dear Diary Book Club, we'll be gifting some of our faves. These are some things that we've been loving and we would gift to a friend for more mindfulness and inspiration. Here is what we have in the Dear Diary Book Club giveaway box that will be given to one of our book club friends:
- "Am I There Yet? The loop-de-loop, zigzagging journey to adulthood" - a book by Mari Andrew that in a very creative and illustrative way shows the highs and lows of adulating, making decisions and facial all kinds of problems.
- "Calm" - a book from The School of Life that focuses on the importance of remaining calm in different situations. It teaches you how you can stay calm through your thinking.
- "Know Yourself cards" - 60 prompt cards by The School of Life that assist you in a journey of self-knowledge. Answer questions that will help you understand yourself better.
- "Stress check breathe in" - roll on stick by ThisWorks to refresh and calm your senses so you stress less. 100% natural blend of pure essential oils to help you relieve mental and physical tension.
- Good Vibes Only print kit by us - The Dear Diary :)
- "One day or day one? You decide." A4 weekly notepad - again, by us :)
- A morse code LOVE bracelet brought to you all the way from my personal journey to Bali - found in the cutest jewellery shop "Fineline by Katahati". Something a bit more personal and picked especially with one of our DD friends in mind.
All you have to do to enter this giveaway is simply leave a comment on this Insta pic and let us know your favourite quote from one of the DD Book Club reads so far (Tuesdays with Morrie, The Four Agreements or The Road Less Travelled) and also let us know in that comment why this quote is so meaningful to you.
*The giveaway is open until Thursday, 5th of July. The winner will be picked randomly and announced on our Instagram. Good luck and we're so excited to hear your fave quote from the DD book club reads so far.
As always - thank you so much for being here <3
Zane & the DD team