A review by studiomikarts
The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness by Fumitake Koga, Ichiro Kishimi

challenging hopeful informative inspiring reflective fast-paced


First off, I can't help but be amused at the way so many other reviews condemn this book for denying the existence of trauma (specifically, it states that trauma doesn't exist in the same way the past doesn't exist) because they're basically proving the book's point. Trauma is a delicious buzzword these days and no one wants to be told that they can (have to) let it go in order to move forward! I suffered severe abuse as a child and I always thought of it as trauma, as an invisible scar that I can never be rid of. After reading this book, I realize my memories of that abuse are not scars, but baggage I've been lugging around all my life, making everything else I want to do way more difficult than it needs to be. No more. I don't have trauma. I have memories of abuse, the same as I have memories of birthday parties and family road trips. Some memories are pleasant, some are unpleasant, but none will ever again convince me to behave in a way contrary to who I want to be NOW. I dropped the baggage, thanks to this book. If your mind is open, it could help you do the same ❤️

Now, onto my main review! I loved this book! I will recommend it to anyone who seems like it would help. It was super easy to read and understand. The philosophy-style dialogue made it easy to follow the ideas; whenever I started to feel lost (or contrary) it was nice to have the Youth there to raise my objections for me, which the Philosopher always quickly and gently laid to rest. The book introduces new psychology concepts and terms, but also explains them simply, so that I never had to jump onto Wikipedia or Google for help. The only weakness is the awkwardness of the English translation. It's grammatically correct without any typos, etc. but, as an intermediate student of Japanese, I have a strong feeling it was translated too literally from the original. But even with that shortcoming, the book stands strong and I'll be turning back to it (and the multitudes of notes I took from it) whenever I need reminders to strengthen me. I picked it up in the first place because its title resonated fiercely with me. I'm pleased to report that I not only learned how to find the courage to be disliked, but how to find the courage to be happy and to be normal, to be deeply satisfied with the present moment, because that's all we ever really have.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

It's as if you see the world through dark glasses, so naturally everything seems dark. But if that is the case, instead of lamenting about the world's darkness, you could just remove the glasses.

Adlerian psychology is a psychology of courage. Your unhappiness cannot be blamed on your past or your environment. And it isn't that you lack competence. You just lack courage.

If your life, or mine, for that matter, were to come to an end here and now, it would not do to refer to either of them as unhappy. The life that ends at the age of twenty and the life that ends at ninety are both complete lives, and lives of happiness.

No matter what moments you are living, or if there are people who dislike you, as long as you do not lose sight of the guiding star of "I contribute to others," you will not lose your way, and you can do whatever you like. Whether you're disliked or not, you pay it no mind and live free.