“Life is difficult.”
M. Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Traveled, decided to start his book with a harsh, but honest, statement. Those looking for quick pick-me-ups would quickly shy away from this atypical self-help book, which is unfortunate because there are many valuable life lessons found in this great work that people could benefit from. Here are just a few of those lessons.
Real Love Is An Action, Not A Feeling
Peck distinguishes between “real” love and “romantic” love. The intense emotion and sexual desire often felt at the onset of new relationships are expected by many to last forever, but that isn’t loving, according to Peck, but cathexis.
In psychology, cathexis is the investment of emotional energy into objects or people, usually to the extent that is considered unhealthy. Peck suggests we don’t invest energy into the “falling in love” aspect of relationships, and instead into acts of love. True love doesn’t rely on feelings sparked by romantic love.
The Importance Of Discipline
M. Scott Peck emphasizes the importance of being disciplined. Peck writes: “Without discipline, we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline, we can solve all problems.” People intuitively know this when reminded, but we tend to operate in a very spontaneous way. Thus our responses to problems in our life are usually negative.
With more discipline and understanding of the inevitable difficulty that awaits in everyone’s life, we can learn to experience pain and not avoid it.
Dedication To Truth And Reality
According to Peck, we all have a map of the world that is shaped by our thoughts and experiences. The more our maps coincide with Truth, the better we can deal with the world. Many have inaccurate maps and hence struggle needlessly in a life that is difficult enough as it is. Having an open mind and a dedication to Truth means we are willing to tweak our map of the world to better suit reality.
Some, however, struggle with changing their plans as the world changes, so instead of adjusting to the new reality, they seek to destroy it. This kind of denial is unhealthy, thus being dedicated to what is right can help us accept change instead of reject it.