The Courage to Be Disliked is presented as a conversation between a young adult and a philosopher. The idea is that it's similar to Dialogues of Plato. While I found the format interesting, a lot of the conversation ended up feeling forced. I've read very few of Plato's dialogues but The Courage to Be Disliked often felt like no one would actually have these conversations.
It was a good introduction to the theories of Alfred Adler, the founder of individual psychology. There were some ideas I can get behind. Things like focusing on the present, on our actions instead of the actions of others, accepting yourself, and that happiness stems from providing value to others.
There's a quote by Lao Tzu that I've always enjoyed:
If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.
This concept alone was probably one of my favourite things about the book. That being said, it was a very, very small piece of it.
So what didn't I like about the book? It might not be fair to judge the book for sharing Adler's ideas, but it's hard not to.
One thing I'm having trouble coming to terms with is the fact that they stated all trauma is fake. We invent trauma in order to protect us from outcomes we don't want. It seems like this idea could be pretty harmful for people working through trauma so it's hard to get behind.
I also wish the book was a little more tactical. I like the idea of being fully present. I would love if I could stop comparing myself to others and just focus on my own actions. I certainly want to accept myself for who I am. These things don't always come so easily to me though.
The definition of happiness in the book seems too reductionist as well. As long as you're providing value to others, you can be happy. I do think providing value is a great foundation for happiness, but I'm not sure I believe that's all there is to it.
I'll take the concepts I like from the book and leave the rest for now.