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This book is so good that you cant leave it without completing it. Real life lesson taught. The conversation just flows and you eventually become part of the conversation and feel like its you who is conversing.
25 November 2018 (09:58)
Thanks for the review @Monika Kalani
16 March 2019 (09:04)
Thanks whoever uploaded this and truly this is a great book. I'm an Indian and this book helped me un-clutter up my obsession for becoming liked and coping with Western standards of being "liked"
10 April 2019 (19:15)
This book is so good that you cant leave it without completing it. Real life lesson taught. The conversation just flows and you eventually become part of the conversation and feel like its you who is conversing.
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just at the starting of reading this book
I hope it will be helpful to me
I hope it will be helpful to me
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The book is awesome!
07 December 2019 (22:11)
This book is beyond words
22 December 2019 (00:05)
it was an amazing week reading this book. the best dialogue between youth and philosopher and an amazing life fact which you were living daily.
12 January 2020 (15:28)
LITTLE BLUE BOOK OF REASONING AND THE COURAGE TO BE DESLIKE ARE THE MIND BLOWING BOOKS I WOULD RECOMMEND THEM FOR LEARNERS
15 February 2020 (00:14)
A Must Read book for acquiring Philosophical insights into Alderian Psychology
17 March 2020 (08:25)
At first, I was skeptical about downloading this book but after I read the comment of the first reviewer, I gave it a trial.
Sincerely, this book is highly insightful, therapeutic and transformational. Download it, read it and you would see that it is worth the hype.
Sincerely, this book is highly insightful, therapeutic and transformational. Download it, read it and you would see that it is worth the hype.
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10 January 2021 (13:07)
Good book. Principles are hard to get at first but gets easier as the book progresses. Can't say I've grasped all but picked 3/4 life changing stuff
26 January 2021 (17:04)
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30 January 2021 (05:48)
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30 March 2021 (23:41)
The first touch is the deepest
Not a fan. Written by an autist. However, if you want to read a book by a retard, I suggest How to Be a Motherfucking Pimp. Dazzle Razzle is one of the luminaries of our time
09 May 2021 (14:26)
this book is life-changing! it suceed on changing my mindset!
13 May 2021 (16:14)
Comments here should be supervised and non related comments dumb anti social subjects make should be deleted. Like the one made by the user “The first touch is the deepest”.
17 May 2021 (10:31)
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22 May 2021 (08:10)
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23 May 2021 (07:53)
Comment is part of every books life
23 May 2021 (18:54)
Best book on alderian psychology; formate is moving and precise .. hat off to z library... You have become my book heaven
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13 June 2021 (05:40)
THX for share！Very nice book.
22 June 2021 (05:56)
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The title is as captivating as the flow and the storyline.This is a masterpiece.
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I'm so glad I stumbled upon this randomly while looking for completely unrelated anatomy books. Pure wisdom!
17 August 2021 (21:32)
Tạ Như Quỳnh
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I just downloaded it. I'll comeback for the review.
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19 September 2021 (02:41)
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30 November 2021 (20:13)
THE SECOND NIGHT: All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems Live Like You’re Dancing PHILOSOPHER: What is wrong with it? YOUTH: Your argument not only denies the making of plans in life, it goes as far as to deny even making efforts. Take, for example, the life of someone who has dreamed of being a violinist ever since childhood, and who, after years of strict training, has at long last become an active member in a celebrated orchestra. Or another life, one of intensive studies that successfully leads to the passing of the bar examination and becoming a lawyer. Neither of these lives would be possible without objectives and plans. PHILOSOPHER: So in other words, like mountain climbers aiming to reach the mountaintop, they have persevered on their paths? YOUTH: Of course! PHILOSOPHER: But is that really the case? Isn’t it that these people have lived each and every instant of their lives here and now? That is to say, rather than living lives that are “en route,” they are always living here and now. For example, the person who had dreams of becoming a violinist was always looking at pieces of music, and concentrating on each piece, and on each and every measure and note. YOUTH: Would they attain their objectives that way? PHILOSOPHER: Think of it this way: Life is a series of moments, which one lives as if one were dancing, right now, around and around each passing instant. And when one happens to survey one’s surroundings, one realizes, I guess I’ve made it this far. Among those who have danced the dance of the violin, there are people who stay the course and become professional musicians. Among those who have danced the dance of the bar examination, there are people who become lawyers. There are people who have danced the dance of writing and become authors. Of course, it also happens that people end up in entirely different places. But none of these lives came to an end “en route.” It is enough if one finds fulfillment in the here and now one is dancing. YOUTH: It’s enough if; one can dance in the now? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. With dance, it is the dancing itself that is the goal, and no one is concerned with arriving somewhere by doing it. Naturally, it may happen that one arrives somewhere as a result of having danced. Since one is dancing, one does not stay in the same place. But there is no destination. YOUTH: A life without a destination, who ever heard of such a thing? Who would acknowledge such an unsteady life, that bends whichever way the wind blows? PHILOSOPHER: The kind of life that you speak of, which tries to reach a destination, may be termed a “kinetic (dynamic) life.” By contrast, the kind of dancing life I am talking about could be called an “energeial (actual-active-state) life.” YOUTH: Kinetic? Energeial? PHILOSOPHER: Let’s refer to Aristotle’s explanation. Ordinary motion—which is referred to as kinesis—has a starting point and an end point. The movement from the starting point to the end point is optimal if it is carried out as efficiently and as quickly as possible. If one can take an express train, there is no need to ride the local one that makes every stop. YOUTH: In other words, if one’s destination is to become a lawyer, it’s best to get there as quickly and as efficiently as one can. PHILOSOPHER: Yes. And the road one takes to get to that destination is, in the sense that one’s goal has not yet been reached, incomplete. This is kinetic life. YOUTH: Because it’s halfway? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. Energeia, on the other hand, is a kind of movement in which what is “now forming” is what “has been formed.” YOUTH: What is “now forming” is what “has been formed”? PHILOSOPHER: One might also think of it as movement in which the process itself is treated as the outcome. Dance is like that, and so is a journey. YOUTH: Ah, I’m getting confused . . . What is this about a journey? PHILOSOPHER: What kind of goal is the act of going on a journey? Suppose you are going on a journey to Egypt. Would you try to arrive at the Great Pyramid of Giza as efficiently and quickly as possible, and then head straight back home by the shortest route? One would not call that a “journey.” You should be on a journey the moment you step outside your home, and all the moments on the way to your destination should be a journey. Of course, there might be circumstances that prevent you from making it to the pyramid, but that does not mean you didn’t go on a journey. This is “energeial life.” YOUTH: I guess I’m just not getting this. Weren’t you refuting the kind of value system of aiming for the mountaintop? What happens if you liken energeial life to mountain climbing? PHILOSOPHER: If the goal of climbing a mountain were to get to the top, that would be a kinetic act. To take it to the extreme, it wouldn’t matter if you went to the mountaintop in a helicopter, stayed there for five minutes or so, and then headed back in the helicopter again. Of course, if you didn’t make it to the mountaintop, that would mean the mountain-climbing expedition was a failure. However, if the goal is mountain climbing itself, and not just getting to the top, one could say it is energeial. In this case, in the end it doesn’t matter whether one makes it to the mountaintop or not. YOUTH: That sort of argument is just ridiculous! You’ve fallen into a completely self-defeating contradiction. Before you lose face before the whole wide world, I’ll cut through your shameless nonsense, once and for all. PHILOSOPHER: Oh, I’d be much obliged. The Courage to Be Normal YOUTH: But how . . . ? It would be impossible for all human beings to be especially good, or anything like that, wouldn’t it? No matter what, people have their strengths and weaknesses, and there will always be differences. There’s only a handful of geniuses in the world, and not everyone is cut out to be an honors student. So for all the losers, there’s nothing for it besides being especially bad. PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it’s that Socratic paradox, that no one desires evil. Because to children who engage in problem behavior, even violent acts and theft are accomplishments of “good.” YOUTH: But that’s horrible! That’s a line of reasoning with no way out. PHILOSOPHER: What Adlerian psychology emphasizes at this juncture are the words “the courage to be normal.” YOUTH: The courage to be normal? PHILOSOPHER: Why is it necessary to be special? Probably because one cannot accept one’s normal self. And it is precisely for this reason that when being especially good becomes a lost cause, one makes the huge leap to being especially bad—the opposite extreme. But is being normal, being ordinary, really such a bad thing? Is it something inferior? Or, in truth, isn’t everybody normal? It is necessary to think this through to its logical conclusion. YOUTH: So are you saying that I should be normal? PHILOSOPHER: Self-acceptance is the vital first step. If you are able to possess the courage to be normal, your way of looking at the world will change dramatically. YOUTH: But . . . PHILOSOPHER: You are probably rejecting normality because you equate being normal with being incapable. Being normal is not being incapable. One does not need to flaunt one’s superiority. YOUTH: Fine, I acknowledge the danger of aiming to be special. But does one really need to make the deliberate choice to be normal? If I pass my time in this world in an utterly humdrum way, if I lead a pointless life without leaving any record or memory of my existence whatsoever, am I to just be satisfied with my lot, because that’s the sort of human being I am? You’ve got to be joking. I’d abandon such a life in a second! PHILOSOPHER: You want to be special, no matter what? YOUTH: No! Look, accepting what you call “normal” would lead to me having to affirm my idle self! It would just be saying, “This is all I am capable of and that’s fine.” I refuse to accept such an idle way of life. Do you think that Napoleon or Alexander the Great or Einstein or Martin Luther King accepted “normal”? And how about Socrates and Plato? Not a chance! More than likely, they all lived their lives while carrying the torch of a great ideal or objective. Another Napoleon could never emerge with your line of reasoning. You are trying to rid the world of geniuses! PHILOSOPHER: So what you are saying is that one needs lofty goals in life. YOUTH: But that’s obvious! [image: images] “The courage to be normal”—what truly dreadful words. Are Adler and this philosopher really telling me to choose such a path? To go about my life as just another soul among the utterly ordinary, faceless masses? I’m no genius, of course. Maybe “normal” is the only choice I have. Maybe I will just have to accept my mediocre self and surrender to leading a mediocre, everyday existence. But I will fight it. Whatever happens, I will oppose this man to the bitter end. We seem to be approaching the heart of our discussion. The young man’s pulse was racing, and despite the wintry chill in the air, his clenched fists shone with sweat. About the Authors ICHIRO KISHIMI was born in Kyoto, where he currently resides. He writes and lectures on Adlerian psychology and provides counseling for youths in psychiatric clinics as a certified counselor and consultant for the Japanese Society of Adlerian Psychology. He is the translator, into Japanese, of selected writings by Alfred Adler—The Science of Living and Problems of Neurosis—and he is the author of Introduction to Adlerian Psychology, in addition to numerous other books. FUMITAKE KOGA is an award-winning professional writer and author. He has released numerous bestselling works of business-related and general nonfiction. He encountered Adlerian psychology in his late twenties and was deeply affected by its conventional wisdom—defying ideas. Thereafter, Koga made numerous visits to Ichiro Kishimi in Kyoto, gleaned from him the essence of Adlerian psychology, and took down the notes for the classical “dialogue format” method of Greek philosophy that is used in this book. MEET THE AUTHORS, WATCH VIDEOS AND MORE AT SimonandSchuster.com Authors.SimonandSchuster.com/Ichiro-Kishimi Authors.SimonandSchuster.com/Fumitake-Koga [image: Image] Facebook.com/AtriaBooks [image: Image] @AtriaBooks [image: Image] @AtriaBooks The young man thought to himself, Adlerian psychology is engaged in a thorough inquiry into interpersonal relationships. And the final goal of these interpersonal relationships is community feeling. But is this really enough? Isn’t there something else that I was brought into this world to achieve? What is the meaning of life? Where am I headed, and what sort of life am I trying to lead? The more the young man thought, the more it seemed to him that his own existence had been tiny and insignificant. Life Is Not a Competition YOUTH: But I guess I still don’t really get it. PHILOSOPHER: Okay, ask me anything you like. YOUTH: Adler recognizes that the pursuit of superiority—one’s trying to be a more superior being—is a universal desire, doesn’t he? On the other hand, he’s striking a note of warning with regard to excessive feelings of inferiority and superiority. It’d be easy to understand if he could renounce the pursuit of superiority—then I could accept it. What are we supposed to do? PHILOSOPHER: Think about it this way. When we refer to the pursuit of superiority, there’s a tendency to think of it as the desire to try to be superior to other people; to climb higher, even if it means kicking others down—you know, the image of ascending a stairway and pushing people out of the way to get to the top. Adler does not uphold such attitudes, of course. Rather, he’s saying that on the same level playing field, there are people who are moving forward, and there are people who are moving forward behind them. Keep that image in mind. Though the distance covered and the speed of walking differ, everyone is walking equally in the same flat place. The pursuit of superiority is the mind-set of taking a single step forward on one’s own feet, not the mind-set of competition of the sort that necessitates aiming to be greater than other people. YOUTH: So life is not a competition? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. It’s enough to just keep moving in a forward direction, without competing with anyone. And, of course, there is no need to compare oneself with others. YOUTH: No, that’s impossible. We’ll always compare ourselves to other people, no matter what. That’s exactly where our feeling of inferiority comes from, isn’t it? PHILOSOPHER: A healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from comparing oneself to others; it comes from one’s comparison with one’s ideal self. YOUTH: But . . . PHILOSOPHER: Look, all of us are different. Gender, age, knowledge, experience, appearance—no two of us are exactly the same. Let’s acknowledge in a positive manner the fact that other people are different from us. And that we are not the same, but we are equal. YOUTH: We are not the same, but we are equal? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. Everyone is different. Don’t mix up that difference with good and bad, and superior and inferior. Whatever differences we may have, we are all equal. YOUTH: No distinction of rank for people. Idealistically speaking, I suppose so. But aren’t we trying to have an honest discussion about reality now? Would you really say, for instance, that I, an adult, and a child who is still struggling with his arithmetic are equal? PHILOSOPHER: In terms of the amount of knowledge and experience, and then the amount of responsibility that can be taken, there are bound to be differences. The child might not be able to tie his shoes properly, or figure out complicated mathematical equations, or be able to take the same degree of responsibility as an adult when problems arise. However, such things shouldn’t have anything to do with human values. My answer is the same. Human beings are all equal, but not the same. YOUTH: Then are you saying that a child should be treated like a full-grown adult? PHILOSOPHER: No. Instead of treating the child like an adult, or like a child, one must treat him or her like a human being. One interacts with the child with sincerity, as another human being just like oneself. YOUTH: Let’s change the question. All people are equal. They’re on the same level playing field. But actually, there’s a disparity here, isn’t there? Those who move forward are superior, and those who pursue them from behind are inferior. So we end up at the problem of superior and inferior, don’t we? PHILOSOPHER: No, we do not. It does not matter if one is trying to walk in front of others or walk behind them. It is as if we are moving through a flat space that has no vertical axis. We do not walk in order to compete with someone. It is in trying to progress past who one is now that there is value. YOUTH: Have you become free from all forms of competition? PHILOSOPHER: Of course. I do not think about gaining status or honor, and I live my life as an outsider philosopher without any connection whatsoever to worldly competition. YOUTH: Does that mean you dropped out of competition? That you somehow accepted defeat? PHILOSOPHER: No. I withdrew from places that are preoccupied with winning and losing. When one is trying to be oneself, competition will inevitably get in the way. YOUTH: No way! That’s a tired-out old man’s argument. Young folks like me have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps amid the tension of competition. It’s because I don’t have a rival running alongside me that I can’t outdo myself. What’s wrong with thinking of interpersonal relationships as competitive? PHILOSOPHER: If that rival was someone you could call a comrade, it’s possible that it would lead to self-improvement. But in many cases, a competitor will not be your comrade. YOUTH: Meaning what, exactly? Discard Other People’s Tasks YOUTH: Then, what about with shut-ins, for example? I mean, with someone like my friend. Even then, would you say it’s the separation of tasks, don’t intervene, and it has no connection to the parents? PHILOSOPHER: Can he break out of the shut-in situation or not? Or, in what way can he break out of it? In principle, this is a task that the person has to resolve himself. It is not for the parents to intervene. Nevertheless, as they are not complete strangers, some form of assistance is probably needed. At this point, the most important thing is whether the child feels he can consult frankly with his parents when he is experiencing a dilemma, and whether they have been building enough of a trust relationship on a regular basis. YOUTH: Then, suppose your own child had shut himself in, what would you do? Please answer this not as a philosopher but as a parent. PHILOSOPHER: First, I myself would think, This is the child’s task. I would try not to intervene in his shut-in situation, and I would refrain from focusing too much attention on it. Then I would send a message to him to the effect that I am ready to assist him whenever he is in need. In that way, the child, having sensed a change in his parent, will have no choice but to make it his own task to think about what he should do. He’ll probably come and ask for assistance, and he’ll probably try to work some things out on his own. YOUTH: Could you really manage to be so cut and dried if it were your own child who’d become a shut-in? PHILOSOPHER: A parent suffering over the relationship with his or her child will tend to think, My child is my life. In other words, the parent is taking on the child’s task as his or her own and is no longer able to think about anything but the child. When at last the parent notices it, the “I” is already gone from his or her life. However, no matter how much of the burden of the child’s task one carries, the child is still an independent individual. Children do not become what their parents want them to become. In their choices of university, place of employment, and partner in marriage, and even in the everyday subtleties of speech and conduct, they do not act according to their parents’ wishes. Naturally, the parents will worry about them, and probably want to intervene at times. But, as I said earlier, other people are not living to satisfy your expectations. Though the child is one’s own, he or she is not living to satisfy one’s expectations as a parent. YOUTH: So you have to draw the line even with family? PHILOSOPHER: Actually, with families there is less distance, so it’s all the more necessary to consciously separate the tasks. YOUTH: That doesn’t make sense. On the one hand, you’re talking about love, and on the other, you’re denying it. If you draw the line between yourself and other people that way, you won’t be able to believe in anyone anymore! PHILOSOPHER: Look, the act of believing is also the separation of tasks. You believe in your partner; that is your task. But how that person acts with regard to your expectations and trust is other people’s tasks. When you push your wishes without having drawn that line, before you know it you’re engaging in stalker-like intervention. Suppose your partner did not act as you had wished. Would you still be able to believe in that person? Would you still be able to love that person? The task of love that Adler speaks of is composed of such questions. YOUTH: That’s difficult! That’s very difficult. PHILOSOPHER: Of course it is. But think about it this way: Intervening in other people’s tasks and taking on other people’s tasks turns one’s life into something heavy and full of hardship. If you are leading a life of worry and suffering—which stems from interpersonal relationships—learn the boundary of “From here on, that is not my task.” And discard other people’s tasks. That is the first step toward lightening the load and making life simpler. The Greatest Life-Lie YOUTH: To live earnestly and conscientiously? PHILOSOPHER: For example, one wants to get into a university but makes no attempt to study. This an attitude of not living earnestly here and now. Of course, maybe the entrance examination is still far off. Maybe one is not sure what needs to be studied or how thoroughly, and one finds it troublesome. However, it is enough to do it little by little—every day one can work out some mathematical formulas, one can memorize some words. In short, one can dance the dance. By doing so, one is sure to have a sense of “this is what I did today”; this is what today, this single day, was for. Clearly, today is not for an entrance examination in the distant future. And the same thing would hold true for your father, too—he was likely dancing earnestly the dance of his everyday work. He lived earnestly here and now, without having a grand objective or the need to achieve that objective. And, if that was the case, it would seem that your father’s life was a happy one. YOUTH: Are you telling me to affirm that way of living? That I should accept my father’s constantly work-burdened existence . . . ? PHILOSOPHER: There is no need to make yourself affirm it. Only instead of seeing his life as a line that he reached, start seeing how he lived it, see the moments of his life. YOUTH: The moments. PHILOSOPHER: And the same may be said with regard to your own life. You set objectives for the distant future, and think of now as your preparatory period. You think, I really want to do this, and I’ll do it when the time comes. This is a way of living that postpones life. As long as we postpone life, we can never go anywhere and will pass our days only one after the next in dull monotony, because we think of here and now as just a preparatory period, as a time for patience. But a “here and now” in which one is studying for an entrance examination in the distant future, for example, is the real thing. YOUTH: Okay, I’ll accept that. I can certainly accept living earnestly here and now, and not setting up some fabricated line. But I don’t have any dreams or objectives in my life. I don’t know what dance to do. My here and now is nothing but utterly useless moments. PHILOSOPHER: Not having objectives or the like is fine. Living earnestly here and now is itself a dance. One must not get too serious. Please do not confuse being earnest with being too serious. YOUTH: Be earnest but not too serious. PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. Life is always simple, not something that one needs to get too serious about. If one is living each moment earnestly, there is no need to get too serious. And there is another thing I would like you to keep in mind: When one has adopted an energeial viewpoint, life is always complete. YOUTH: It’s complete? PHILOSOPHER: 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. YOUTH: So if I have lived earnestly here and now, those moments will always be complete? PHILOSOPHER: Exactly. Now, I have used the word “life-lie” again and again throughout our discussion. I would like to conclude by talking about the greatest life-lie of all. YOUTH: Please do. PHILOSOPHER: The greatest life-lie of all is to not live here and now. It is to look at the past and the future, cast a dim light on one’s entire life, and believe that one has been able to see something. Until now, you have turned away from the here and now and shone a light only on invented pasts and futures. You have told a great lie to your life, to these irreplaceable moments. YOUTH: Oh, okay! PHILOSOPHER: So cast away the life-lie and fearlessly shine a bright spotlight on here and now. That is something you can do. YOUTH: That is something I can do? Do you think I have in me the courage to live out these moments earnestly, without resorting to the life-lie? PHILOSOPHER: Since neither the past nor the future exists, let’s talk about now. It’s not yesterday or tomorrow that decides it. It’s here and now. On the outskirts of the thousand-year-old city lived a philosopher who taught that the world was simple and that happiness was within the reach of every man, instantly. A young man who was dissatisfied with life went to visit this philosopher to get to the heart of the matter. This youth found the world a chaotic mass of contradictions and, in his anxious eyes, any notion of happiness was completely absurd. The young man entered the study and sat slouched in a chair. Why was he so determined to reject the philosopher’s theories? His reasons were abundantly clear. He lacked self-confidence and, ever since childhood, this had been compounded by deep-seated feelings of inferiority with regard to his personal and academic backgrounds, as well as his physical appearance. Perhaps, as a result, he tended to be excessively self-conscious when people looked at him. Mostly, he seemed incapable of truly appreciating other people’s happiness and was constantly pitying himself. To him, the philosopher’s claims were nothing more than the stuff of fantasy. An Inferiority Complex Is an Excuse YOUTH: But can you say for sure that feelings of inferiority are really a problem of interpersonal relationships? Even the kind of person who is regarded socially as a success, who doesn’t need to debase himself in relationships with other people, still has some feelings of inferiority? Even the businessman who amasses enormous wealth, the peerless beauty who is the envy of all, and the Olympic gold medalist—every one of them would be plagued by feelings of inferiority. Well, that’s how it seems to me. How should I think about this? PHILOSOPHER: Adler recognizes that feelings of inferiority are something everyone has. There’s nothing bad about feelings of inferiority themselves. YOUTH: So why do people have them in the first place? PHILOSOPHER: It’s probably necessary to understand this in a certain order. First of all, people enter this world as helpless beings. And people have the universal desire to escape from that helpless state. Adler called this the “pursuit of superiority.” YOUTH: Pursuit of superiority? PHILOSOPHER: This is something you could think of as simply “hoping to improve” or “pursuing an ideal state.” For instance, a toddler learns to steady himself on both legs. He has the universal desire to learn language and to improve. And all the advancements of science throughout human history are due to this “pursuit of superiority,” too. YOUTH: Okay. And then? PHILOSOPHER: The counterpart of this is the feeling of inferiority. Everyone is in this “condition of wanting to improve” that is the pursuit of superiority. One holds up various ideals or goals and heads toward them. However, on not being able to reach one’s ideals, one harbors a sense of being lesser. For instance, there are chefs who, the more inspired and accomplished they become, are forever beset with the sort of feeling of inferiority that makes them say to themselves, I’m still not good enough, or I’ve got to bring my cooking to the next level, and that sort of thing. YOUTH: That’s true. PHILOSOPHER: Adler is saying that the pursuit of superiority and the feeling of inferiority are not diseases but stimulants to normal, healthy striving and growth. If it is not used in the wrong way, the feeling of inferiority, too, can promote striving and growth. YOUTH: The feeling of inferiority is a kind of launch pad? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. One tries to get rid of one’s feeling of inferiority and keep moving forward. One’s never satisfied with one’s present situation—even if it’s just a single step, one wants to make progress. One wants to be happier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the state of this kind of feeling of inferiority. There are, however, people who lose the courage to take a single step forward, who cannot accept the fact that the situation can be changed by making realistic efforts. People who, before even doing anything, simply give up and say things like “I’m not good enough anyway” or “Even if I tried, I wouldn’t stand a chance.” YOUTH: Well, that’s true. There’s no doubt about it—if the feeling of inferiority is strong, most people will become negative and say, “I’m not good enough anyway.” Because that’s what a feeling of inferiority is. PHILOSOPHER: No, that’s not a feeling of inferiority—that’s an inferiority complex. YOUTH: A complex? That’s what the feeling of inferiority is, isn’t it? PHILOSOPHER: Be careful. The way the word “complex” is used today, it seems to have the same meaning as “feeling of inferiority.” You hear people saying, “I’ve got a complex about my eyelids,” or “He’s got a complex about his education,” that sort of thing. This is an utter misuse of the term. At base, “complex” refers to an abnormal mental state made up of a complicated group of emotions and ideas, and has nothing to do with the feeling of inferiority. For instance, there’s Freud’s Oedipus complex, which is used in the context of discussing the abnormal attraction of the child to the opposite-sex parent. YOUTH: Yes. The nuances of abnormality are especially strong when it comes to the mother complex and the father complex. PHILOSOPHER: For the same reason, then, it’s crucial to not mix up “feeling of inferiority” and “inferiority complex,” and to think about them as clearly separate. YOUTH: Concretely, how are they different? PHILOSOPHER: There is nothing particularly wrong with the feeling of inferiority itself. You understand this point now, right? As Adler says, the feeling of inferiority can be a trigger for striving and growth. For instance, if one had a feeling of inferiority with regard to one’s education, and resolved to oneself, I’m not well educated, so I’ll just have to try harder than anyone else, that would be a desirable direction. The inferiority complex, on the other hand, refers to a condition of having begun to use one’s feeling of inferiority as a kind of excuse. So one thinks to oneself, I’m not well educated, so I can’t succeed, or I’m not good-looking, so I can’t get married. When someone is insisting on the logic of “A is the situation, so B cannot be done” in such a way in everyday life, that is not something that fits in the feeling of inferiority category. It is an inferiority complex. YOUTH: No, it’s a legitimate causal relationship. If you’re not well educated, it takes away your chances of getting work or making it in the world. You’re regarded as low on the social scale, and you can’t succeed. That’s not an excuse at all. It’s just a cold hard fact, isn’t it? PHILOSOPHER: No, you are wrong. YOUTH: How? Where am I wrong? PHILOSOPHER: What you are calling a causal relationship is something that Adler explains as “apparent cause and effect.” That is to say, you convince yourself that there is some serious causal relationship where there is none whatsoever. The other day, someone told me, “The reason I can’t get married easily is that my parents got divorced when I was a child.” From the viewpoint of Freudian etiology (the attributing of causes), the parents’ divorce was a great trauma, which connects in a clear causal relationship with one’s views on marriage. Adler, however, with his stance of teleology (the attributing of purpose), rejects such arguments as “apparent cause and effect.” YOUTH: But even so, the reality is that having a good education makes it easier to be successful in society. I had thought you were wise to the ways of the world. PHILOSOPHER: The real issue is how one confronts that reality. If what you are thinking is, I’m not well educated, so I can’t succeed, then instead of I can’t succeed, you should think, I don’t want to succeed. YOUTH: I don’t want to succeed? What kind of reasoning is that? PHILOSOPHER: It’s simply that it’s scary to take even one step forward; also, that you don’t want to make realistic efforts. You don’t want to change so much that you’d be willing to sacrifice the pleasures you enjoy now—for instance, the time you spend playing and engaged in hobbies. In other words, you’re not equipped with the courage to change your lifestyle. It’s easier with things just as they are now, even if you have some complaints or limitations. THE FIFTH NIGHT: To Live in Earnest in the Here and Now What Real Freedom Is PHILOSOPHER: Earlier, you acknowledged that you do not want to be disliked by anyone, and said, “There’s no one anywhere who’d go so far as to actually want to be disliked.” YOUTH: Right. PHILOSOPHER: Well, I’m the same way. I have no desire to be disliked by other people. I would say that “No one would go so far as to actually want to be disliked” is a sharp insight. YOUTH: It’s a universal desire! PHILOSOPHER: Even so, regardless of our efforts, there are people who dislike me and people who dislike you. This, too, is a fact. When you are disliked, or feel that you are being disliked, by someone, what state of mind does it put you in? YOUTH: Very distressed, to put it simply. I wonder why I’ve come to be disliked, and what I did or said that might have been offensive. I think I should have interacted with the person in a different way, and I just brood and brood over it and am ridden with guilt. PHILOSOPHER: Not wanting to be disliked by other people. To human beings, this is an entirely natural desire, and an impulse. Kant, the giant of modern philosophy, called this desire “inclination.” YOUTH: Inclination? PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it is one’s instinctive desires, one’s impulsive desires. Now, if one were to say that living like a stone tumbling downhill and allowing such inclinations or desires or impulses to take one wherever they will is “freedom,” one would be incorrect. To live in such a way is only to be a slave to one’s desires and impulses. Real freedom is an attitude akin to pushing up one’s tumbling self from below. YOUTH: Pushing oneself up from below? PHILOSOPHER: A stone is powerless. Once it has begun to roll downhill, it will continue to roll until released from the natural laws of gravity and inertia. But we are not stones. We are beings who are capable of resisting inclination. We can stop our tumbling selves and climb uphill. The desire for recognition is probably a natural desire. So are you going to keep rolling downhill in order to receive recognition from others? Are you going to wear yourself down like a rolling stone, until everything is smoothed away? When all that is left is a little round ball, would that be “the real I”? It cannot be. YOUTH: Are you saying that resisting one’s instincts and impulses is freedom? PHILOSOPHER: As I have stated repeatedly, in Adlerian psychology, we think that all problems are interpersonal relationship problems. In other words, we seek release from interpersonal relationships. We seek to be free from interpersonal relationships. However, it is absolutely impossible to live all alone in the universe. In light of what we have discussed until now, the conclusion we reach regarding “What is freedom?” should be clear. YOUTH: What is it? PHILOSOPHER: In short, that “freedom is being disliked by other people.” YOUTH: Huh? What was that? PHILOSOPHER: It’s that you are disliked by someone. It is proof that you are exercising your freedom and living in freedom, and a sign that you are living in accordance with your own principles. YOUTH: But, but . . . PHILOSOPHER: It is certainly distressful to be disliked. If possible, one would like to live without being disliked by anyone. One wants to satisfy one’s desire for recognition. But conducting oneself in such a way as to not be disliked by anyone is an extremely unfree way of living, and is also impossible. There is a cost incurred when one wants to exercise one’s freedom. And the cost of freedom in interpersonal relationships is that one is disliked by other people. YOUTH: No! That’s totally wrong. There is no way that could be called freedom. That’s a diabolical way of thinking to coax one into evildoing. PHILOSOPHER: You’ve probably been thinking of freedom as “release from organizations.” That breaking away from your home or school, your company or your nation is freedom. However, if you were to break away from your organization, for instance, you would not be able to gain real freedom. Unless one is unconcerned by other people’s judgments, has no fear of being disliked by other people, and pays the cost that one might never be recognized, one will never be able to follow through in one’s own way of living. That is to say, one will not be able to be free. YOUTH: Be disliked by other people—is that what you are saying? PHILOSOPHER: What I am saying is, don’t be afraid of being disliked. YOUTH: But that’s— PHILOSOPHER: I am not telling you to go so far as to live in such a way that you will be disliked, and I am not saying engage in wrongdoing. Please do not misunderstand that. YOUTH: No. Then let’s change the question. Can people actually endure the weight of freedom? Are people that strong? To not care even if one is disliked by one’s own parents—can one become so self-righteously defiant? PHILOSOPHER: One neither prepares to be self-righteous nor becomes defiant. One just separates tasks. There may be a person who does not think well of you, but that is not your task. And again, thinking things like He should like me or I’ve done all this, so it’s strange that he doesn’t like me, is the reward-oriented way of thinking of having intervened in another person’s tasks. One moves forward without fearing the possibility of being disliked. One does not live as if one were rolling downhill, but instead climbs the slope that lies ahead. That is freedom for a human being. Suppose that I had two choices in front of me—a life in which all people like me, and a life in which there are people who dislike me—and I was told to choose one. I would choose the latter without a second thought. Before being concerned with what others think of me, I want to follow through with my own being. That is to say, I want to live in freedom. YOUTH: Are you free, now? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. I am free. YOUTH: You do not want to be disliked, but you don’t mind if you are? PHILOSOPHER: Yes, that’s right. Not wanting to be disliked is probably my task, but whether or not so-and-so dislikes me is the other person’s task. Even if there is a person who doesn’t think well of me, I cannot intervene in that. To borrow from the proverb I mentioned earlier, naturally one would make the effort to lead someone to water, but whether he drinks or not is that person’s task. YOUTH: That’s some conclusion. PHILOSOPHER: The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness. The young man was as good as his word. Exactly one week later, he returned to the philosopher’s study. Truth be told, he’d felt the urge to rush back there only two or three days after his first visit. He had turned things over in his mind very carefully, and his doubts had turned to certainty. In short, teleology, the attributing of the purpose of a given phenomenon, rather than its cause, was a sophistry, and the existence of trauma was beyond question. People cannot simply forget the past, and neither can they become free from it. Today, the young man decided, he’d thoroughly dismantle this eccentric philosopher’s theories and settle matters once and for all. The Difference Between Trust and Confidence YOUTH: There is something about this “affirmative resignation” that sounds pessimistic. It’s just too bleak if the upshot of all this lengthy discussion is resignation. PHILOSOPHER: Is that so? Resignation has the connotation of seeing clearly with fortitude and acceptance. Having a firm grasp on the truth of things—that is resignation. There is nothing pessimistic about it. YOUTH: A firm grasp on the truth . . . PHILOSOPHER: Of course, just because one has arrived at affirmative resignation as one’s self-acceptance, it does not automatically follow that one finds community feeling. That is the reality. When one is switching from attachment to self to concern for others, the second key concept—confidence in others—becomes absolutely essential. YOUTH: Confidence in others. In other words, believing in others? PHILOSOPHER: Here, I will consider the words “believing in others” in the context of distinguishing trust from confidence. First, when we speak of trust, we are referring to something that comes with set conditions. We refer to it as credit. For example, when one wants to borrow money from a bank, one has to have some kind of security. The bank calculates the amount of the loan based on the value of that security, and says, “We will lend you this much.” The attitude of “We will lend it to you on the condition that you will pay it back” or “We will lend you as much as you are able to pay back” is not one of having confidence in someone. It is trust. YOUTH: Well, that’s how bank financing works, I guess. PHILOSOPHER: By contrast, from the standpoint of Adlerian psychology, the basis of interpersonal relations is founded not on trust but on confidence. YOUTH: And “confidence” in this case is . . . ? PHILOSOPHER: It is doing without any set conditions whatsoever when believing in others. Even if one does not have sufficient objective grounds for trusting someone, one believes. One believes unconditionally without concerning oneself with such things as security. That is confidence. YOUTH: Believing unconditionally? So it’s back to your pet notion of neighborly love? PHILOSOPHER: Of course, if one believes in others without setting any conditions whatsoever, there will be times when one gets taken advantage of. Just like the guarantor of a debt, there are times when one may suffer damages. The attitude of continuing to believe in someone even in such instances is what we call confidence. YOUTH: Only a naïve dimwit would do such a thing! I guess you hold with the doctrine of innate human goodness, while I hold with the doctrine of innate human evilness. Believe unconditionally in complete strangers, and you’ll just get used and abused. PHILOSOPHER: And there are also times when someone deceives you, and you get used that way. But look at it from the standpoint of someone who has been taken advantage of. There are people who will continue to believe in you unconditionally even if you are the one who has taken advantage of them. People who will have confidence in you no matter how they are treated. Would you be able to betray such a person again and again? YOUTH: Um, no. Well, it would be . . . PHILOSOPHER: I am sure it would be quite difficult for you to do such a thing. YOUTH: After all that, are you saying one has to appeal to the emotions? To keep on holding the faith, like a saint, and act on the conscience of the other person? You’re telling me that morals don’t matter to Adler, but isn’t that exactly what we’re talking about here? PHILOSOPHER: No, it is not. What would you say is the opposite of confidence? YOUTH: An antonym of confidence? Uh . . . PHILOSOPHER: It is doubt. Suppose you have placed “doubt” at the foundation of your interpersonal relations. That you live your life doubting other people—doubting your friends and even your family and those you love. What sort of relationship could possibly arise from that? The other person will detect the doubt in your eyes in an instant. He or she will have an instinctive understanding that “this person does not have confidence in me.” Do you think one would be able to build some kind of positive relationship from that point? It is precisely because we lay a foundation of unconditional confidence that it is possible for us to build a deep relationship. YOUTH: Okay, I guess. PHILOSOPHER: The way to understand Adlerian psychology is simple. Right now, you are thinking, If I were to have confidence in someone unconditionally, I would just get taken advantage of. However, you are not the one who decides whether or not to take advantage. That is the other person’s task. All you need to do is think, What should I do? If you are telling yourself, I’ll give it to him if he isn’t going take advantage of me, it is just a relationship of trust that is based on security or conditions. YOUTH: So one separates tasks there, too? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. As I have stated repeatedly, carrying out the separation of tasks returns life to an astonishingly simple form. But while the principle of the separation of tasks is easy to grasp, putting it into practice is difficult. I recognize that. YOUTH: Then you are telling me to keep on having confidence in everyone, to keep on believing in all other people even when they deceive me, and just go on being a naïve fool? That’s not philosophy or psychology or anything of the sort—it’s just the preaching of a zealot! PHILOSOPHER: I reject that definitively. Adlerian psychology is not saying “have confidence in others unconditionally” on the basis of a moralistic system of values. Unconditional confidence is a means for making your interpersonal relationship with a person better and for building a horizontal relationship. If you do not have the desire to make your relationship with that person better, then go ahead and sever it. Because carrying out the severing is your task. YOUTH: Then what if I’ve placed unconditional confidence in a friend in order to make our relationship better? I’ve jumped through all sorts of hoops for this friend, gladly satisfied any requests for money, and been unstinting with my time and efforts in his regard. But even in such cases, there are times when one is taken advantage of. For example, if one were horribly taken advantage of by a person one has believed in completely, wouldn’t that experience lead one to a lifestyle with an “other people are my enemies” outlook? PHILOSOPHER: It seems that you have not yet gained an understanding of the goal of confidence. Suppose, for example, that you are in a love relationship, but you are having doubts about your partner and you think to yourself, I’ll bet she’s cheating on me. And you start making desperate efforts in search of evidence to prove that. What do you think would happen as a result? YOUTH: Well, I guess that would depend on the situation. PHILOSOPHER: No, in every instance, you would find an abundance of evidence that she has been cheating on you. YOUTH: Wait? Why is that? PHILOSOPHER: Your partner’s casual remarks, her tone when talking to someone on the phone, the times when you can’t reach her . . . As long as you are looking with doubt in your eyes, everything around you will appear to be evidence that she is cheating on you. Even if she is not. YOUTH: Hmm. PHILOSOPHER: Right now, you are only concerned about the times you were taken advantage of, and nothing else. You focus only on the pain from the wounds you sustained on such occasions. But if you are afraid to have confidence in others, in the long run you will not be able to build deep relationships with anyone. YOUTH: Well, I see what you’re getting at—the main objective, which is to build deep relationships. But still, being taken advantage of is scary, and that’s the reality, isn’t it? PHILOSOPHER: If it is a shallow relationship, when it falls apart the pain will be slight. And the joy that relationship brings each day will also be slight. It is precisely because one can gain the courage to enter into deeper relationships by having confidence in others that the joy of one’s interpersonal relations can grow, and one’s joy in life can grow, too. YOUTH: No! That’s not what I was talking about, you’re changing the subject again. The courage to overcome the fear of being taken advantage of—where does it come from? PHILOSOPHER: It comes from self-acceptance. If one can simply accept oneself as one is, and ascertain what one can do and what one cannot, one becomes able to understand that “taking advantage” is the other person’s task, and getting to the core of “confidence in others” becomes less difficult. YOUTH: You’re saying that taking advantage of someone is the other person’s task, and one can’t do anything about it? That I should be resigned, in an affirmative way? Your arguments always ignore our emotions. What does one do about all the anger and sadness one feels when one is taken advantage of? PHILOSOPHER: When one is sad, one should be sad to one’s heart’s content. It is precisely when one tries to escape the pain and sadness that one gets stuck and ceases to be able to build deep relationships with anyone. Think about it this way. We can believe. And we can doubt. But we are aspiring to see others as our comrades. To believe or to doubt—the choice should be clear. From Power Struggle to Revenge YOUTH: Okay, all this talk about teleology and such is pure sophistry, and trauma definitely does exist. And people cannot break free from the past. Surely you realize that? We cannot go back to the past in a time machine. As long as the past exists as the past, we live within contexts from the past. If one were to treat the past as something that does not exist, that would be the same as negating the entire life one has led. Are you suggesting I choose such an irresponsible life? PHILOSOPHER: It is true that one cannot use a time machine or turn back the hands of time. But what kind of meaning does one attribute to past events? This is the task that is given to “you now.” YOUTH: All right, so let’s talk about “now.” Last time, you said that people fabricate the emotion of anger, right? And that that is the standpoint of teleology. I still cannot accept that statement. For example, how would you explain instances of anger toward society, or anger toward government? Would you say that these, too, are emotions fabricated in order to push one’s opinions? PHILOSOPHER: Certainly, there are times when I feel indignation with regard to social problems. But I would say that rather than a sudden burst of emotion, it is indignation based on logic. There is a difference between personal anger (personal grudge) and indignation with regard to society’s contradictions and injustices (righteous indignation). Personal anger soon cools. Righteous indignation, on the other hand, lasts for a long time. Anger as an expression of a personal grudge is nothing but a tool for making others submit to you. YOUTH: You say that personal grudges and righteous indignation are different? PHILOSOPHER: They are completely different. Because righteous indignation goes beyond one’s own interests. YOUTH: Then I’ll ask about personal grudges. Surely even you get angry sometimes—for instance, if someone hurls abuse at you for no particular reason—don’t you? PHILOSOPHER: No, I do not. YOUTH: Come on, be honest. PHILOSOPHER: If someone were to abuse me to my face, I would think about the person’s hidden goal. Even if you are not directly abusive, when you feel genuinely angry due to another person’s words or behavior, please consider that the person is challenging you to a power struggle. YOUTH: A power struggle? PHILOSOPHER: For instance, a child will tease an adult with various pranks and misbehaviors. In many cases, this is done with the goal of getting attention and will cease just before the adult gets genuinely angry. However, if the child does not stop before the adult gets genuinely angry, then his goal is actually to get in a fight. YOUTH: Why would he want to get in a fight? PHILOSOPHER: He wants to win. He wants to prove his power by winning. YOUTH: I don’t really get that. Could you give me some concrete examples? PHILOSOPHER: Let’s say you and a friend have been discussing the current political situation. Before long, it turns into a heated argument, and neither of you is willing to accept any differences of opinion until finally it reaches the point where he starts engaging in personal attacks—that you’re stupid, and it’s because of people like you that this country doesn’t change, that sort of thing. YOUTH: But if someone said that to me, I wouldn’t be able to put up with it. PHILOSOPHER: In this case, what is the other person’s goal? Is it only that he wants to discuss politics? No, it isn’t. It’s that he finds you unbearable, and he wants to criticize and provoke you, and make you submit through a power struggle. If you get angry at this point, the moment he has been anticipating will arrive, and the relationship will suddenly turn into a power struggle. No matter what the provocation, you must not get taken in. YOUTH: No, there’s no need to run away from it. If someone wants to start a fight, it’s fine to accept it. Because it’s the other guy who’s at fault, anyway. You can bash his nose in, the stupid fool. With words, that is. PHILOSOPHER: Now let’s say you take control of the quarrel. And then the other man, who was seeking to defeat you, withdraws in a sportsmanlike manner. The thing is, the power struggle doesn’t end there. Having lost the dispute, he rushes on to the next stage. YOUTH: The next stage? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. It’s the revenge stage. Though he has withdrawn for the time being, he will be scheming some revenge in another place and another form, and will reappear with an act of retaliation. YOUTH: Like what, for instance? PHILOSOPHER: The child oppressed by his parents will turn to delinquency. He’ll stop going to school. He’ll cut his wrists or engage in other acts of self-harm. In Freudian etiology, this is regarded as simple cause and effect: The parents raised the child in this way, and that is why the child grew up to be like this. It’s just like pointing out that a plant wasn’t watered, so it withered. It’s an interpretation that is certainly easy to understand. But Adlerian teleology does not turn a blind eye to the goal that the child is hiding. That is to say, the goal of revenge on the parents. If he becomes a delinquent, stops going to school, cuts his wrists, or things like that, the parents will be upset. They’ll panic and worry themselves sick over him. It is in the knowledge that this will happen that the child engages in problem behavior. So that the current goal (revenge on the parents) can be realized, not because he is motivated by past causes (home environment). YOUTH: He engages in problem behavior in order to upset his parents? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. There are probably a lot of people who feel mystified by seeing a child who cuts his wrists, and they think, Why would he do such a thing? But try to think how the people around the child—the parents, for instance—will feel as a result of the behavior of wrist cutting. If you do, the goal behind the behavior should come into view of its own accord. YOUTH: The goal being revenge? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. And once the interpersonal relationship reaches the revenge stage, it is almost impossible for either party to find a solution. To prevent this from happening, when one is challenged to a power struggle, one must never allow oneself to be taken in. Why Am I Only Interested in Myself? PHILOSOPHER: Well, let’s consider this concretely. For purposes of clarity, in place of “attachment to self” I will use the word “self-centered.” In your view, someone who is self-centered is what sort of person? YOUTH: Hmm, I guess the first thing that comes to mind is the kind of person who’s like a tyrant. Someone who’s domineering, has no qualms about being a nuisance to others, and thinks only about things that are to his own advantage. He thinks that the world revolves around him, and he behaves like a dictator who rules by absolute authority and force. He’s the kind of person who creates an enormous amount of trouble for everyone around him. Someone who’s just like Shakespeare’s King Lear, a typical tyrant. PHILOSOPHER: I see. YOUTH: On the other hand, he wouldn’t necessarily be a tyrant—one might speak of the sort of person who disturbs the harmony of a group as self-centered, too. He’s someone who can’t operate in a group and prefers to act alone. He never stops to reflect on his actions, even when he’s late for appointments or fails to keep his promises. In a word, he is an egotist. PHILOSOPHER: To be sure, that is the kind of image that generally comes to mind when thinking of self-centered people. But there is another type that must be taken into account. People who are incapable of carrying out the separation of tasks and who are obsessed with the desire for recognition are also extremely self-centered. YOUTH: Why is that? PHILOSOPHER: Consider the reality of the desire for recognition. How much do others pay attention to you, and what is their judgment of you? That is to say, how much do they satisfy your desire? People who are obsessed with such a desire for recognition will seem to be looking at other people, while they are actually looking only at themselves. They lack concern for others and are concerned solely with the “I.” Simply put, they are self-centered. YOUTH: So would you say that people like me, who fear being judged by others, are self-centered, too? Even though I try so hard to be mindful of others and adjust myself to them? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. In the sense that you are concerned solely with the “I,” you are self-centered. You want to be thought well of by others, and that is why you worry about the way they look at you. That is not concern for others. It is nothing but attachment to self. YOUTH: But . . . PHILOSOPHER: This is something I spoke of last time. The fact that there are people who do not think well of you is proof that you are living in freedom. You might have a sense of something about this that seems self-centered. But I think you have understood this from today’s discussion: A way of living in which one is constantly troubled by how one is seen by others is a self-centered lifestyle in which one’s sole concern is with the “I.” YOUTH: Well, now, that is an astounding statement! PHILOSOPHER: Not just you, but all people who are attached to the “I” are self-centered. And that is precisely why it is necessary to make the switch from “attachment to self” to “concern for others.” YOUTH: Okay, so yes, it is true that I am always looking only at myself, that, I acknowledge. I’m constantly worried about how other people see me, but not about how I see them. If you are saying I am self-centered, there is nothing that I can say to refute that. But think about it like this: If my life were a feature-length movie, the protagonist would certainly be this “I,” wouldn’t it? Is pointing the camera at the protagonist really such a reprehensible thing? Listen to the Voice of a Larger Community YOUTH: I must admit, you’re starting to lose me. Let me try to straighten things out a bit. First, at the gateway of interpersonal relations, we’ve got the separation of tasks, and as the goal, there’s community feeling. And you’re saying that community feeling is having “a sense of others as comrades” and “an awareness of having one’s own refuge” within the community. Up to this point, it is something I can understand and accept. But the details still seem a bit far-fetched. For one thing, what do you mean by expanding this thing you call “community” to include the entire universe, and then even the past and the future, and everything from living things to inanimate objects? PHILOSOPHER: It certainly does make things more difficult to understand if one takes Adler’s concept of community literally and tries to actually imagine it including the universe and inanimate objects. For the time being, suffice it to say that the scope of community is infinite. YOUTH: Infinite? PHILOSOPHER: Take, for example, a man who, on reaching retirement age and stopping work, quickly loses his vitality and becomes depressed. Abruptly cut off from the company that was his community and bereft of title or profession, he becomes an “ordinary nobody.” As he is unable to accept the fact that he is now “normal,” he becomes old practically overnight. But all that really happened to the man is that he was cut off from the small community that is his company. Each person belongs to a separate community. And when it comes down to it, all of us belong to the community of the earth, and the community of the universe. YOUTH: That’s pure sophistry! To suddenly come out with “You belong to the universe,” as if that could give someone a sense of belonging. PHILOSOPHER: It’s true, there’s no way one can just imagine the entire universe all of a sudden. Even so, I would like you to gain the awareness that you belong to a separate, larger community that is beyond the one you see in your immediate vicinity—for example, the country or local society in which you live—and that you are contributing in some way within that community. YOUTH: Then what about in a situation like this? Say there’s a guy who’s unmarried, who has lost his job and his friends, and who avoids the company of other people and just lives off the money his parents left him. So he’s basically running away from all the tasks of work and tasks of friendship and tasks of love. Would you say that even a guy like that belongs to some sort of community? PHILOSOPHER: Of course. Say he goes out to buy a loaf of bread. He pays for it with a coin. That coin does not simply go back to the bakers of the bread. It goes to the producers of flour and butter, to the people who deliver those ingredients, to the purveyors of the gasoline used by the delivery vehicles, to people in the oil-producing countries where that fuel comes from, and so on. So it’s all connected. People are never truly alone or separate from community, and cannot be. YOUTH: So you’re saying I should fantasize more when I buy bread? PHILOSOPHER: It is not fantasy. It is fact. The community Adler speaks of goes beyond things we can see, like our households and societies, to include those connections that we cannot see. YOUTH: Excuse me for saying so, but you’re escaping into abstract theory. The issue we should be addressing here is the sense of belonging, that “it’s okay to be here.” And then, with regard to the meaning of this sense of belonging, it is the community we can see that is stronger. You will agree with that, won’t you? For example, if we compare the “company” community with the “earth” community, the sense of belonging of someone who says “I am a member of this company” would be stronger. To borrow your terminology, the distance and depth of the interpersonal relations are completely different. It’s only natural that when we search for a sense of belonging, we will be attracted to the smaller community. PHILOSOPHER: That is a perceptive observation. So let’s start thinking about why we should be aware of multiple and larger communities. As I stated earlier, all of us belong to multiple communities. We belong to our households, our schools, our workplaces, and the local societies and the countries in which we live. This far you agree, yes? YOUTH: Yes, I do. PHILOSOPHER: Well, suppose that you, as a student, regarded the community that is “school” as absolute. In other words, school is everything to you, your “I” exists because of school, and no other “I” is possible without it. But naturally, there will be occasions within that community when you run into adversity. It could be getting bullied, or not being able to make friends, or not keeping up with your schoolwork, or not adapting to the system of the school in the first place. That is to say, it’s possible that with regard to the community that is your school, you won’t have that “It’s okay to be here” sense of belonging. YOUTH: Yes, absolutely. That’s quite possible. PHILOSOPHER: When that happens, if you are thinking of school as being everything to you, you will end up without a sense of belonging to anything. And then, you will escape within a smaller community, such as your home. You will shut yourself in, and maybe even turn to violence against members of your own family. And by doing such things, you will be attempting to gain a sense of belonging somehow. What I would like you to focus on here, though, is that there is “a more separate community” and, moreover, that there is “a larger community.” YOUTH: What does that mean? PHILOSOPHER: That there is a larger world that extends far beyond the confines of the school. And every one of us is a member of that world. If there is no place of refuge in your school, you should find a different refuge outside the walls of the school. You can change schools, and it’s fine to withdraw from school, too. A community that you can break relations with by simply submitting a withdrawal notice is one that you can have only so much connection to, in any case. Once you know how big the world is, you will see that all the hardship you went through in school was a storm in a teacup. The moment you leave the teacup, that raging storm will be gone, and a gentle breeze will greet you in its place. YOUTH: Are you saying that as long as you keep yourself shut up inside the teacup, you’ll never stand a chance outside it? PHILOSOPHER: Secluding yourself in your room is akin to staying in the teacup, as if you are hunkering down in a small shelter. You might be able to wait out the rain for a short while, but the storm will continue unabated. YOUTH: Well, maybe in theory, anyway. But it’s hard to break out. The decision to withdraw from school itself isn’t something to be taken lightly. PHILOSOPHER: I am sure you are right—it would not be easy. Therefore, there is a principle of action that I would like you to commit to memory. When we run into difficulties in our interpersonal relations, or when we can no longer see a way out, what we should consider first and foremost is the principle that says, “Listen to the voice of the larger community.” YOUTH: The voice of the larger community? PHILOSOPHER: If it is a school, one does not judge things with the common sense of the community that is the school, but instead follows the common sense of a larger community. Now, let’s say it’s your school, and your teacher has been behaving in an authoritarian manner. But the power or authority your teacher wields are nothing more than an aspect of the common sense that operates only within the small community that is the school. From the standpoint of the community that is “human society,” both you and your teacher are equal humans. If unreasonable demands are being thrust on you, it is fine to object to them directly. YOUTH: But it will be very difficult to object when the teacher is right in front of me. PHILOSOPHER: Not at all. Though this might be termed a “you and I” relationship, if it is one that can break down just because you raise an objection, then it is not the sort of relationship you need to get into in the first place. It is fine to just let go of it. Living in fear of one’s relationships falling apart is an unfree way to live, in which one is living for other people. YOUTH: You’re saying to choose freedom at the same time that I have community feeling? PHILOSOPHER: Yes, of course. Do not cling to the small community right in front of you. There will always be more “you and I,” and more “everyone,” and larger communities that exist. THE THIRD NIGHT: Discard Other People’s Tasks You Can Be Happy Now YOUTH: The courage to be happy. Well, let’s hear what kind of courage that should be. PHILOSOPHER: Yes, that is an important point. YOUTH: You say that all problems are interpersonal relationship problems. And then you turn that around and say that our happiness is to be found in our interpersonal relations, too. But I still find these aspects hard to accept. Is what human beings call happiness merely something within our good interpersonal relations? That is to say, do our lives exist for such minuscule repose and joy? PHILOSOPHER: I have a good idea of the issues you are grappling with. The first time I attended a lecture on Adlerian psychology, the lecturer, Oscar Christensen, who was a disciple of one of Adler’s disciples, made the following statement: “Those who hear my talk today can be happy right now, this very instant. But those who do not will never be able to be happy.” YOUTH: Wow! That’s straight from the mouth of a con man. You’re not telling me you fell for that, are you? PHILOSOPHER: What is happiness to human beings? This is a subject that has been one of the consistent threads of philosophy since ancient times. I had always regarded psychology as nothing more than a field of philosophy, and as such had very little interest in psychology as a whole. So it was as a student of philosophy that I had concerned myself, in my own way, with the question: What is happiness? I would be remiss if I did not admit to having felt some reluctance on hearing Christensen’s words. However, at the same time that I experienced that reluctance, I realized something. I had given much deep thought to the true character of happiness. I had searched for answers. But I had not always given deep thought to the question: How can one be happy? It occurred to me then that even though I was a student of philosophy, maybe I wasn’t happy. YOUTH: I see. So your first encounter with Adlerian psychology began with a feeling of incongruity? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. YOUTH: Then, please tell me: Did you eventually become happy? PHILOSOPHER: Of course. YOUTH: How can you be so sure? PHILOSOPHER: For a human being, the greatest unhappiness is not being able to like oneself. Adler came up with an extremely simple answer to address this reality. Namely, that the feeling of “I am beneficial to the community” or “I am of use to someone” is the only thing that can give one a true awareness that one has worth. YOUTH: Do you mean the “contribution to others” you mentioned earlier? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. And this is an important point: When we speak of contribution to others, it doesn’t matter if the contribution is not a visible one. YOUTH: It doesn’t matter if the contribution is not a visible one? PHILOSOPHER: You are not the one who decides if your contributions are of use. That is the task of other people, and is not an issue in which you can intervene. In principle, there is not even any way you can know whether you have really made a contribution. That is to say, when we are engaging in this contribution to others, the contribution does not have to be a visible one—all we need is the subjective sense that “I am of use to someone,” or in other words, a feeling of contribution. YOUTH: Wait a minute! If that’s the case, then what you are calling happiness is . . . PHILOSOPHER: Do you see it now? In a word, happiness is the feeling of contribution. That is the definition of happiness. YOUTH: But . . . but that’s . . . PHILOSOPHER: Is something wrong? YOUTH: There’s no way I can accept such a simplistic definition. Look, I’m not forgetting what you told me before. You said that even though on the level of acts, one might not be of use to anyone, on the level of being, every person is of use. But if that’s the case, according to your logic, all human beings would be happy! PHILOSOPHER: All human beings can be happy. But it must be understood that this does not mean all human beings are happy. Whether it is on the level of acts or on the level of being, one needs to feel that one is of use to someone. That is to say, one needs a feeling of contribution. YOUTH: So you are saying that the reason I am not happy is that I don’t have a feeling of contribution? PHILOSOPHER: That is correct. YOUTH: Then how can I get a feeling of contribution? By working? Through volunteer activities? PHILOSOPHER: Earlier, we were talking about desire for recognition. In response to my statement that one must not seek recognition, you said that desire for recognition is a universal desire. YOUTH: Yes, I did. But honestly, I’m still not entirely certain about this point. PHILOSOPHER: But I am sure that the reason people seek recognition is clear to you now. People want to like themselves. They want to feel that they have worth. In order to feel that, they want a feeling of contribution that tells them “I am of use to someone.” And they seek recognition from others as an easy means for gaining that feeling of contribution. YOUTH: You are saying that desire for recognition is a means for gaining a feeling of contribution? PHILOSOPHER: Isn’t it so? YOUTH: No way. That contradicts everything you’ve been saying until now. Because isn’t receiving recognition from others supposed to be a means for gaining a feeling of contribution? And then you say, “Happiness is the feeling of contribution.” If it is, then fulfilling one’s desire for recognition is directly linked with happiness, isn’t it? Ha-ha! At last, you’ve acknowledged the necessity of the desire for recognition. PHILOSOPHER: You are forgetting an important issue. If one’s means for gaining a feeling of contribution turns out to be “being recognized by others,” in the long run, one will have no choice but to walk through life in accordance with other people’s wishes. There is no freedom in a feeling of contribution that is gained through the desire for recognition. We are beings who choose freedom while aspiring to happiness. YOUTH: So one can have happiness only if one has freedom? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. Freedom as an institution may differ depending on the country, the times, or the culture. But freedom in our interpersonal relations is universal. YOUTH: There’s no way that you will acknowledge the desire for recognition? PHILOSOPHER: If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer have any need for recognition from others. Because one will already have the real awareness that “I am of use to someone,” without needing to go out of one’s way to be acknowledged by others. In other words, a person who is obsessed with the desire for recognition does not have any community feeling yet, and has not managed to engage in self-acceptance, confidence in others, or contribution to others. YOUTH: So if one just has community feeling, the desire for recognition will disappear? PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it will disappear. There is no need for recognition from others. [image: images] The philosopher’s points could be summed up as follows: People can be truly aware of their worth only when they are able to feel “I am of use to someone.” However, it doesn’t matter if the contribution one makes at such a time is without any visible form. It is enough to have the subjective sense of being of use to someone, that is to say, a feeling of contribution. And then the philosopher arrives at the following conclusion: Happiness is the feeling of contribution. There certainly seemed to be aspects of the truth there. But is that really all that happiness is? Not if it’s the happiness I’m searching for! Overcoming the Tasks That Face You in Life YOUTH: Okay, but there’s still a problem. It’s the statement “All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.” I can see that the feeling of inferiority is an interpersonal relationship worry, and that it has certain effects on us. And I accept as logical the idea that life is not a competition. I cannot see other people as comrades, and somewhere inside me I think of them as enemies. This is clearly the case. But the thing I find puzzling is, why does Adler place so much importance on interpersonal relationships? Why does he go so far as to say “all” of them? PHILOSOPHER: The issue of interpersonal relationships is so important that no matter how broadly it is addressed, it never seems to suffice. Last time I told you, “What you are lacking is the courage to be happy.” You remember that, right? YOUTH: I couldn’t forget it if I tried. PHILOSOPHER: So why do you see other people as enemies, and why can’t you think of them as your comrades? It is because you have lost your courage and you are running away from your “life tasks.” YOUTH: My life tasks? PHILOSOPHER: Right. This is a crucial point. In Adlerian psychology, clear objectives are laid out for human behavior and psychology. YOUTH: What sort of objectives? PHILOSOPHER: First, there are two objectives for behavior: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. Then, the two objectives for the psychology that supports these behaviors are the consciousness that I have the ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades. YOUTH: Just a moment. I’m writing this down . . . There are the following two objectives for behavior: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. And there are the following two objectives for the psychology that supports these behaviors: the consciousness that I have the ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades . . . Okay, I can see that it is a crucial subject: to be self-reliant as an individual while living in harmony with people and society. It seems to tie in with everything we’ve been discussing. PHILOSOPHER: And these objectives can be achieved by facing what Adler calls “life tasks.” YOUTH: What are life tasks? PHILOSOPHER: Let’s think of the word “life” as tracing back to childhood. During childhood, we are protected by our parents and can live without needing to work. But eventually, the time comes when one has to be self-reliant. One cannot be dependent on one’s parents forever, and one has to be self-reliant mentally, of course, and self-reliant in a social sense as well, and one has to engage in some form of work—which is not limited to the narrow definition of working at a company. Furthermore, in the process of growing up, one begins to have all kinds of friend relationships. Of course, one may form a love relationship with someone that may even lead to marriage. If it does, one will start a marital relationship, and if one has children, a parent-child relationship will begin. Adler made three categories of the interpersonal relationships that arise out of these processes. He referred to them as “tasks of work,” “tasks of friendship,” and “tasks of love,” and all together as “life tasks.” YOUTH: Are these tasks the obligations one has as a member of society? In other words, things like labor and payment of taxes? PHILOSOPHER: No, please think of this solely in terms of interpersonal relationships. That is, the distance and depth in one’s interpersonal relationships. Adler sometimes used the expression “three social ties” to emphasize the point. YOUTH: The distance and depth in one’s interpersonal relationships? PHILOSOPHER: The interpersonal relationships that a single individual has no choice but to confront when attempting to live as a social being—these are the life tasks. They are indeed tasks in the sense that one has no choice but to confront them. YOUTH: Would you be more specific? PHILOSOPHER: First, let’s look at the tasks of work. Regardless of the kind of work, there is no work that can be completed all by oneself. For instance, I am usually here in my study writing a manuscript. Writing is completely autonomous work that I cannot have someone else do for me. But then there is the presence of the editor and many others, without whose assistance the work would not be realized, from the people who handle book design and printing to the distribution and bookstore staff. Work that can be completed without the cooperation of other people is in principle unfeasible. YOUTH: Broadly speaking, I suppose so. PHILOSOPHER: However, considered from the viewpoint of distance and depth, interpersonal relationships of work may be said to have the lowest hurdles. Interpersonal relationships of work have the easy-to-understand common objective of obtaining good results, so people can cooperate even if they don’t always get along, and to some extent they have no choice but to cooperate. And as long as a relationship is formed solely on the basis of work, it will go back to being a relationship with an outsider when working hours are over or one changes jobs. YOUTH: Yes, so true. PHILOSOPHER: And the ones who get tripped up in the interpersonal relationships at this stage are the people referred to as “NEETs” (a young person not in education, employment, or training) or “shut-ins” (a person confined indoors). YOUTH: Huh? Wait a minute! Are you saying that they don’t try to work simply because they want to avoid the interpersonal relationships that are associated with work, not that they don’t want to work or that they’re refusing to do manual labor? PHILOSOPHER: Putting aside the question of whether or not they are conscious of it themselves, interpersonal relationships are at the core. For example, a man sends out résumés to find work and gets interviews, only to be rejected by one company after another. It hurts his pride. He starts to wonder what the purpose in working is if he has to go through such things. Or he makes a big mistake at work. The company is going to lose a huge sum of money because of him. Feeling utterly hopeless, as if he’s plunged into darkness, he can’t bear the thought of coming in to work the following day. None of these are examples of the work itself becoming disagreeable. What is disagreeable is being criticized or rebuked by others through the work, getting labeled as having no ability or being incompetent or unsuited to the work, and hurting the dignity of one’s irreplaceable self. In other words, everything is an interpersonal relationship issue. Contents Authors’ Note Introduction THE FIRST NIGHT: Deny Trauma The Unknown Third Giant Why People Can Change Trauma Does Not Exist People Fabricate Anger How to Live Without Being Controlled by the Past Socrates and Adler Are You Okay Just As You Are? Unhappiness Is Something You Choose for Yourself People Always Choose Not to Change Your Life Is Decided Here and Now THE SECOND NIGHT: All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems Why You Dislike Yourself All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems Feelings of Inferiority Are Subjective Assumptions An Inferiority Complex Is an Excuse Braggarts Have Feelings of Inferiority Life Is Not a Competition You’re the Only One Worrying About Your Appearance From Power Struggle to Revenge Admitting Fault Is Not Defeat Overcoming the Tasks That Face You in Life Red String and Rigid Chains Don’t Fall for the “Life-Lie” From the Psychology of Possession to the Psychology of Practice THE THIRD NIGHT: Discard Other People’s Tasks Deny the Desire for Recognition Do Not Live to Satisfy the Expectations of Others How to Separate Tasks Discard Other People’s Tasks How to Rid Yourself of Interpersonal Relationship Problems Cut the Gordian Knot Desire for Recognition Makes You Unfree What Real Freedom Is You Hold the Cards to Interpersonal Relationships THE FOURTH NIGHT: Where the Center of the World Is Individual Psychology and Holism The Goal of Interpersonal Relationships Is a Feeling of Community Why Am I Only Interested In Myself? You Are Not the Center of the World Listen to the Voice of a Larger Community Do Not Rebuke or Praise The Encouragement Approach How to Feel You Have Value Exist in the Present People Cannot Make Proper Use of Self THE FIFTH NIGHT: To Live in Earnest in the Here and Now Excessive Self-Consciousness Stifles the Self Not Self-Affirmation—Self-Acceptance The Difference Between Trust and Confidence The Essence of Work Is a Contribution to the Common Good Young People Walk Ahead of Adults Workaholism Is a Life-Lie You Can Be Happy Now Two Paths Traveled by Those Wanting to Be “Special Beings” The Courage to Be Normal Life Is a Series of Moments Live Like You’re Dancing Shine a Light on the Here and Now The Greatest Life-Lie Give Meaning to Seemingly Meaningless Life Afterword About the Authors Young People Walk Ahead of Adults YOUTH: I will acknowledge that work has aspects of contribution to others. But the logic that says that officially one is contributing to others when, in actuality, one is doing it for oneself, is nothing other than hypocrisy. How do you explain that? PHILOSOPHER: Imagine the following kind of scene. It’s after dinner at home, and there are still dishes left on the table. The children have gone off to their rooms, and the husband is sitting on the sofa watching television. It’s been left to the wife (me) to do the dishes and clear everything up. To make matters worse, the family takes that for granted, and they don’t make the slightest effort to help. In such a situation, normally one would think, Why won’t they give me a hand? or Why do I have to do all the work? Even if I do not hear the words “thank you” from my family while I am cleaning up, I want them to think that I am of use to the family. Instead of thinking about what others can do for me, I want to think about, and put into practice, what I can do for other people. Just by having that feeling of contribution, the reality right in front of me will take on a completely different hue. In fact, if I am grumbling to myself as I wash the dishes, I am probably not much fun to be around, so everyone just wants to keep their distance. On the other hand, if I’m humming away to myself and washing the dishes in good spirits, the children might come and give me a hand. At the very least, I’d be creating an atmosphere in which it is easier for them to offer their help. YOUTH: Well, that might be the case in that setting, anyway. PHILOSOPHER: Now, how come I have a feeling of contribution in that setting? I have it because I am able to think of the members of my family as comrades. If I cannot do that, inevitably there will be thoughts running through my head like, Why am I the only one doing this? and Why won’t anyone give me a hand? Contribution that is carried out while one is seeing other people as enemies may indeed lead to hypocrisy. But if other people are one’s comrades, that should never happen, regardless of the contributions one makes. You have been fixating on the word “hypocrisy” because you do not understand community feeling yet. YOUTH: Okay . . . PHILOSOPHER: For the sake of convenience, up to this point I have discussed self-acceptance, confidence in others, and contribution to others, in that order. However, these three are linked as an indispensable whole, in a sort of circular structure. It is because one accepts oneself just as one is—one self-accepts—that one can have “confidence in others” without the fear of being taken advantage of. And it is because one can place unconditional confidence in others, and feel that people are one’s comrades, that one can engage in “contribution to others.” Further, it is because one contributes to others that one can have the deep awareness that “I am of use to someone” and accept oneself just as one is. One can self-accept. The notes you took down the other day, do you have them with you? YOUTH: Oh, you mean that note on the objectives put forward by Adlerian psychology? I’ve kept it on me ever since that day, of course. Here it is: “The two objectives for behavior: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. The two objectives for the psychology that supports these behaviors: the consciousness that I have the ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades.” PHILOSOPHER: If you overlap the content of this note with what we have just been discussing, you should be able to gain a deeper understanding. In other words, “to be self-reliant” and “the consciousness that I have the ability” correspond to our discussion of self-acceptance. And then “to live in harmony with society” and “the consciousness that people are my comrades” connect to confidence in others and then to contribution to others. YOUTH: I see. So the objective of life is community feeling. I think it will be some time before I can get this clear in my head, though. PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it probably will. As Adler himself said, “Understanding a human being is no easy matter. Of all the forms of psychology, individual psychology is probably the most difficult to learn and put into practice.” YOUTH: That’s exactly right! Even if the theories are convincing, it’s hard to put them into practice. PHILOSOPHER: It is even said that to truly understand Adlerian psychology and apply it to actually changing one’s way of living, one needs “half the number of years one has lived.” In other words, if you were to start studying it at the age of forty, it would take another twenty years, until you turned sixty. If you were to start studying at the age of twenty, it would take ten years, until you turned thirty. You are still young. Starting at such an early stage in life means that you might be able to change more quickly. In the sense that you can change quickly, you are walking ahead of the adults of the world. To go about changing yourself and making a new world, in a way you are ahead of me, too. It is okay to lose your way or lose focus. Do not be dependent on vertical relationships or be afraid of being disliked, and just make your way forward freely. If all the adults could see that young people were walking ahead of them, I am sure the world would change dramatically. YOUTH: I am walking ahead of you? PHILOSOPHER: You certainly are. We walk on the same ground, and you are moving on ahead of me. YOUTH: Ha-ha. You’re the first person I’ve ever met who would say such a thing to someone young enough to be his son. PHILOSOPHER: I would like more and more young people to learn about Adler’s thought. And I would like more adults to learn about it, too. Because people can change, regardless of their ages. Thank you for downloading this Simon & Schuster ebook. Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. [image: images] We hope you enjoyed reading this Simon & Schuster ebook. Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. Introduction YOUTH: I want to ask you once again; you do believe that the world is, in all ways, a simple place? PHILOSOPHER: Yes, this world is astonishingly simple and life itself is, too. YOUTH: So, is this your idealistic argument or is it a workable theory? What I mean is, are you saying that any issues you or I face in life are simple too? PHILOSOPHER: Yes, of course. YOUTH: Alright then, but let me explain why I have come to visit you today. Firstly, I want to debate this with you until I am satisfied, and then, if possible, I want to get you to retract this theory. PHILOSOPHER: Ha-ha. YOUTH: Because I have heard all about your reputation. The word is that there is an eccentric philosopher living here whose teachings and arguments are hard to ignore, namely, that people can change, that the world is simple and that everyone can be happy. That is the sort of thing I have heard, but I find that view totally unacceptable, so I wanted to confirm things for myself. If I find anything you say completely off, I will point it out and then correct you . . . But will you find that annoying? PHILOSOPHER: No, I would welcome the opportunity. I have been hoping to hear from a young person just like you and to learn as much as possible from what you can tell me. YOUTH: Thanks. I do not intend to dismiss you out of hand. I will take your views into consideration and then look at the possibilities that present themselves. ‘The world is simple and life is simple, too’—if there is anything in this thesis that might contain truth, it would be life from a child’s point of view. Children do not have any obvious duties, like paying taxes or going to work. They are protected by their parents and society, and can spend days free from care. They can imagine a future that goes on forever and do whatever they want. They don’t have to see grim reality—they are blindfolded. So, to them the world must have a simple form. However, as a child matures to adulthood the world reveals its true nature. Very shortly, the child will know how things really are and what he is really allowed to do. His opinion will alter and all he will see is impossibility. His romantic view will end and be replaced by cruel realism. PHILOSOPHER: I see. That is an interesting view. YOUTH: That’s not all. Once grown up, the child will get entangled in all kinds of complicated relationships with people and have all kinds of responsibilities thrust upon him. That is how life will be, both at work and at home, and in any role he assumes in public life. It goes without saying that he will become aware of the various issues in society that he couldn’t understand as a child, including discrimination, war, and inequality, and he will not be able to ignore them. Am I wrong? PHILOSOPHER: It sounds fine to me. Please continue. YOUTH: Well, if we were still living at a time when religion held sway, salvation might be an option because the teachings of the divine were everything to us. All we had to do was obey them and consequently have little to think about. But religion has lost its power and now there is no real belief in God. With nothing to rely on, everyone is filled with anxiety and doubt. Everyone is living for themselves. That is how society is today, so please tell me—given these realities and in the light of what I have said—can you still say the world is simple? PHILOSOPHER: There is no change in what I say. The world is simple and life is simple, too. YOUTH: How? Anyone can see that it’s a chaotic mass of contradictions. PHILOSOPHER: That is not because the world is complicated. It’s because you are making the world complicated. YOUTH: I am? PHILOSOPHER: None of us live in an objective world, but instead in a subjective world that we ourselves have given meaning to. The world you see is different from the one I see, and it’s impossible to share your world with anyone else. YOUTH: How can that be? You and I are living in the same country, in the same time, and we are seeing the same things—aren’t we? PHILOSOPHER: You look rather young to me, but have you ever drunk well water that has just been drawn? YOUTH: Well water? Um, it was a long time ago, but there was a well at my grandmother’s house in the countryside. I remember enjoying the fresh, cold water drawn from that well on a hot summer’s day. PHILOSOPHER: You may know this, but well water stays at pretty much the same temperature all year round, at about sixty degrees. That is an objective number—it stays the same to everyone who measures it. But when you drink the water in the summer it seems cool and when you drink the same water in the winter it seems warm. Even though it’s the same water, at the same sixty degrees according to the thermometer, the way it seems depends on whether it’s summer or winter. YOUTH: So, it’s an illusion caused by the change in the environment. PHILOSOPHER: No, it’s not an illusion. You see, to you, in that moment, the coolness or warmth of the well water is an undeniable fact. That’s what it means to live in your subjective world. There is no escape from your own subjectivity. At present, the world seems complicated and mysterious to you, but if you change, the world will appear more simple. The issue is not about how the world is, but about how you are. YOUTH: How I am? PHILOSOPHER: Right . . . 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. Perhaps the world will appear terribly bright to you then and you will involuntarily shut your eyes. Maybe you’ll want the glasses back on, but can you even take them off in the first place? Can you look directly at the world? Do you have the courage? YOUTH: Courage? PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it’s a matter of courage. YOUTH: Well, alright. There are tons of objections I would like to raise, but I get the feeling it would be better to go into them later. I would like to confirm that you are saying ‘people can change’, right? PHILOSOPHER: Of course people can change. They can also find happiness. YOUTH: Everyone, without exception? PHILOSOPHER: No exceptions whatsoever. YOUTH: Ha-ha! Now you’re talking big! This is getting interesting. I’m going to start arguing with you immediately. PHILOSOPHER: I am not going to run away or hide anything. Let’s take our time debating this. So, your position is ‘people cannot change?’ YOUTH: That’s right, they can’t change. Actually, I am suffering myself because of not being able to change. PHILOSOPHER: And at the same time, you wish you could. YOUTH: Of course. If I could change, if I could start life all over again, I would gladly fall to my knees before you. But it could turn out that you’ll be down on your knees before me. PHILOSOPHER: You remind me of myself during my own student days, when I was a hot-blooded young man searching for the truth, traipsing about, calling on philosophers . . . YOUTH: Yes. I am searching for the truth. The truth about life. PHILOSOPHER: I have never felt the need to take in disciples and have never done so. However, since becoming a student of Greek philosophy and then coming into contact with another philosophy, I have been waiting for a long time for a visit from a young person like you. YOUTH: Another philosophy? What would that be? PHILOSOPHER: My study is just over there. Go into it. It’s going to be a long night. I will go and make some hot coffee. People Fabricate Anger YOUTH: Yesterday afternoon, I was reading a book in a coffee shop when a waiter passed by and spilled coffee on my jacket. I’d just bought it and it’s my nicest piece of clothing. I couldn’t help it, I just blew my top. I yelled at him at the top of my lungs. I’m not normally the type of person who speaks loudly in public places. But yesterday, the shop was ringing with the sound of my shouting because I flew into a rage and forgot what I was doing. So how about that? Is there any room for a goal to be involved here? No matter how you look at it, isn’t this behavior that originates from a cause? PHILOSOPHER: So you were stimulated by the emotion of anger and ended up shouting. Though you are normally mild-mannered, you couldn’t resist being angry. It was an unavoidable occurrence, and you couldn’t do anything about it. Is that what you are saying? YOUTH: Yes, because it happened so suddenly. The words just came out of my mouth before I had time to think. PHILOSOPHER: Then suppose you happened to have had a knife on you yesterday, and when you blew up you got carried away and stabbed him. Would you still be able to justify that by saying, “It was an unavoidable occurrence, and I couldn’t do anything about it”? YOUTH: That . . . Come on, that’s an extreme argument! PHILOSOPHER: It is not an extreme argument. If we proceed with your reasoning, any offense committed in anger can be blamed on anger and will no longer be the responsibility of the person because, essentially, you are saying that people cannot control their emotions. YOUTH: Well, how do you explain my anger, then? PHILOSOPHER: That’s easy. You did not fly into a rage and then start shouting. It is solely that you got angry so that you could shout. In other words, in order to fulfill the goal of shouting, you created the emotion of anger. YOUTH: What do you mean? PHILOSOPHER: The goal of shouting came before anything else. That is to say, by shouting, you wanted to make the waiter submit to you and listen to what you had to say. As a means to do that, you fabricated the emotion of anger. YOUTH: I fabricated it? You’ve got to be joking! PHILOSOPHER: Then why did you raise your voice? YOUTH: As I said before, I blew my top. I was deeply frustrated. PHILOSOPHER: No. You could have explained matters without raising your voice, and the waiter would most likely have given you a sincere apology, wiped your jacket with a clean cloth, and taken other appropriate measures. He might have even arranged for it to be dry-cleaned. And somewhere in your mind, you were anticipating that he might do these things but, even so, you shouted. The procedure of explaining things in normal words felt like too much trouble, and you tried to get out of that and make this unresisting person submit to you. The tool you used to do this was the emotion of anger. YOUTH: No way. You can’t fool me. I manufactured anger in order to make him submit to me? I swear to you, there wasn’t even a second to think of such a thing. I didn’t think it over and then get angry. Anger is a more impulsive emotion. PHILOSOPHER: That’s right, anger is an instantaneous emotion. Now listen, I have a story. One day, a mother and daughter were quarreling loudly. Then, suddenly, the telephone rang. “Hello?” The mother picked up the receiver hurriedly, her voice still thick with anger. The caller was her daughter’s homeroom teacher. As soon as the mother realized who was phoning, the tone of her voice changed and she became very polite. Then, for the next five minutes or so, she carried on a conversation in her best telephone voice. Once she hung up, in a moment, her expression changed again and she went straight back to yelling at her daughter. YOUTH: Well, that’s not a particularly unusual story. PHILOSOPHER: Don’t you see? In a word, anger is a tool that can be taken out as needed. It can be put away the moment the phone rings, and pulled out again after one hangs up. The mother is