'The Road Less Travelled' By M. Scott Peck
"Life is difficult", reads the first sentence of 'The road less travelled'.
From the beginning, this book gives you a truthful approach to life and brings clarity on a number of topics from a psychological point of view - such as love, the unconscious, serendipity, or grace.
This is an easy read thanks to the short chapters of a few pages each - yet at the same time it contains very powerful messages - exemplified with the case studies of patients.
Interesting bits and pieces
'The road less travelled' gives interesting perspectives on a number of topics. Some of them include:
- Confronting problems and taking responsibility: sometimes we ignore our problems in the hope that they will go away.
However, the path of growth is the one in which we take responsibility for our problems in order to be able to solve them.
As the author states, "Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behaviour, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organisation or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity [...]".
- Change: "The essence of life is change, a panoply of growth and decay." It is imperant that we not only accept, but we welcome change, in order to grow.
- Science and religion: There is little doubt that for each of us our religion or lack of it has great influence on our perception of life.
'The road less travelled' explores how the ideas we hold about God influence our lives, and exposes the responses that science gives to the concept of God.
'The road less travelled' is particularly enlightening on the subject of love.
Throughout the different sections of the book you gain an understanding of what love really is - and you may find that in your daily life you hold a really distorted idea of what love is. Thus we get into damaging or hollow relationships.
The author gives some clarity regarding several aspects of love:
- Falling in love: this is the "mechanism" of nature to pair us up and create new life, a process by which the two persons' ego boundaries dissolve.
However, "One by one, gradually or suddenly, the ego boundaries snap back into place; gradually or suddenly, they fall out of love. Once again they are two separate individuals. At this point they begin either to dissolve the ties of their relationship or to initiate the work of real loving."
- The myth of romantic love: "[...] The myth of romantic love is a dreadful lie. Perhaps it is a necessary lie in that it ensures the survival of the species by its encouragement and seeming validation of the falling-in-love experience that traps us into marriage."
- Love and dependency: we tend to think that dependence is a sign of love and we 'need' or 'can't live without' another person. As the author well explains: "When you require another individual for your survival, you are a parasite on that individual. There is no choice, no freedom involved in your relationship. It is a matter of necessity rather than love. Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other."
People who are dependent on the other in their relationship are described as passive dependent individuals.
The author says, "It is as if it does not matter whom they are dependent upon as long as there is just someone. It does not matter what their identity is as long as there is someone to give it to them."
- Love and separateness: "Great marriages cannot be constructed by individuals who are terrified by their basic aloneness, as so commonly is the case, and seek a merging in marriage. Genuine love not only respects the individuality of the other but actually seeks to cultivate it, even at the risk of separation or loss."
'The road less travelled' is a great manual to start approaching important areas of our lives.
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"If we know exactly where we're going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we'll see along the way, we won't learn anything."
M. Scott Peck
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