With a goal of reading 50 books a year, Jeannine Choi-Addo picked up her latest selection, a book recommended to her with a catchy — if a little misleading — title.
“The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness” is only 288 pages long, but after Choi-Addo finished in May 2022, she sat dumbfounded on her staircase, struck by its revolutionary ideas. Written by two Japanese authors, the book guides readers on a journey towards discovering true happiness through an introduction to Adlerian philosophy.
“The book had a profound impact on how I think about life,” said Choi-Addo, a lawyer by background who currently works in compliance at YouTube. The book introduced her to Alfred Adler, considered the first community psychologist because his work pioneered attention to community life, prevention, and population health.
“I started researching Adler more, and that’s when I found Adler University,” she said.
As a small gesture to help the teachings of Adler spread further, Choi-Addo decided to donate to the University’s scholarship and general funds.
“I think if more people read the book and actually practiced Adler’s principles in daily life, which is extremely difficult to do, there would be much less human suffering in this world,” said Choi-Addo.
Published by Simon & Schuster, “The Courage to be Disliked” follows an illuminating dialogue between a philosopher and a young man. Over the course of five conversations, the philosopher helps his student to understand how individuals can determine the direction of their own life, free from the shackles of past traumas, and the expectations of others.
Its authors are Ichiro Kishimi, who writes and lectures on Adlerian psychology and serves as a consultant for the Japanese Society of Adlerian Psychology, and Fumitake Yoga, a bestselling author who encountered Adlerian psychology in his late 20s and was deeply affected by its conventional wisdom-defying ideas.
“The title is a little misleading,” Choi-Addo said, who first heard of the book after a speaker at Google, which owns YouTube, recommended it. “It’s more about true freedom, lasting happiness, the purpose of life, and self-acceptance as an individual human being.”
After reading the book and its ideas, Choi-Addo saw her views changing and found herself questioning long-held beliefs.
“A year ago, before I read it, I would have told a certain story about myself about being a ship wandering around the world without an anchor,” Choi-Addo said when discussing her international upbringing. “I envied people who grew up in their hometown for 18 years and had childhood friends. I didn’t have that. I moved every 3 years, having moved about 20 times.”
“I now believe that you have the freedom to choose the story you tell about yourself to yourself. I’ve had a whole range of diverse experiences that has given me the ability to relate to different people, regardless of background and nationality,” she said. “I now see myself as a culmination of a whole set of complex experiences who is always evolving and growing. It gave me freedom from the past, future anxieties and the stresses of daily life, the freedom to always grow, and the freedom to be truly present and enjoy life as a journey.”
Choi-Addo said she tries to practice the concepts in the book daily, including reminding herself that everyone is in their own subjective world, allowing her to be mindful of thoughts and emotions that arise from situations and interactions with others. The ideas in the book have also inspired Choi-Addo to meditate and journal daily, allowing her to reflect on her thoughts and growth.
“It goes back to what Adler had to say about us continually changing, according to the book,” she said. “One person can make a tremendous impact in other people’s lives. Think of your child, your parent, a special friend or a mentor, who is truly unique, whom you cannot imagine the world without. Recommending the book or making a small donation to Adler University, to me, are small acts that allow me to live a life closer to what I feel is my authentic self and hopefully can have a positive impact to others as well.”
Since 1952, Adler University has prepared students to create a more just society. Now more than ever, its graduates are being called to address the world’s alarming health inequities and social injustices. Donations and gifts to Adler is an investment in their work to improve community health and well-being.
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