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Courage to be disliked

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This is a very strange book, and I can’t say I liked it very much, but there is some useful philosophy inside (and perhaps a lot if you or someone you know is struggling with low self-esteem).


(I only have very selective notes for parts I liked, Derek Sivers has a lot more.)

Separation of tasks. Interpersonal relationship problems arise from you intruding upon other people’s tasks, or your tasks being intruded upon. Your tasks are to live your life (work, family, love, friendship).

For example, being concerned about what someone thinks about you is not your task. What someone thinks of you is their task, not yours. You have no input here. Or when someone is facing obstacles in life, it’s not your task to face those obstacles, fix them, or force them to act a certain way. Your duty is encouragement — i.e. to offer words that give courage. You can offer your advice. But that’s it. Whether they want it, or take it, or live it is not your task, and to do so would be to intrude upon their autonomy and would give happiness neither to you nor them.

Do not praise or rebuke (See Punished by rewards).

Happiness is the feeling of contribution, the sense that you are of benefit to society. Do not seek recognition. That is toxic, an unfree way to live — as you are tied to other people’s opinion. With self-confidence, the knowledge itself that you are beneficial is enough.

In healthy relationships one never constrains or restricts the other person. Horizontal relationships are based on unconditional confidence.

Live here and now. Life is always complete. Life is the journey, not the destination. Do not live as if you’re en route towards a goal, because you will be miserable the whole trip. You are postponing life. Life is simple — live the way that makes sense for you now.

Life is essentially pointless, so any meaning it has is assigned by you — and you alone.

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