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Review: Book focuses on teachings of Alfred Adler

This cover image released by Atria shows "The Courage to Be Happy: Discover the Power of Positive Psychology and Choose Happiness Every Day," by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. (Atria via AP)
This cover image released by Atria shows "The Courage to Be Happy: Discover the Power of Positive Psychology and Choose Happiness Every Day," by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. (Atria via AP)

“The Courage to be Happy: Discover the Power of Positive Psychology and Choose Happiness Every Day,” Atria Books, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Achieving happiness requires thought, study and action — hard work — it turns out.

This book focuses on the teachings of Alfred Adler, a psychologist and philosopher who stands with Sigmund Freud and Cal Gustav Jung as pivotal figures in psychology in the early decades of the 20th century. Adler focused on what he thought was the basic desire of all people — to belong and feel significant.

Among the tenets of Adlerian psychology:

— Equality among all people.

— Understanding of life’s three most important elements: occupation, love and our relationship with other people.

— Recognizing that good mental health is defined as full self-development and a willingness to help others.

The explanation of Adler’s psychology and philosophy is presented as a continuing dialogue between a skeptical young adult and the sage philosopher, mimicking the way a psychologist would treat a patient. The young person expresses doubts about the tenets of Adlerian psychology; the wise philosopher calmly explains and comforts.

That style can make for slow reading but perhaps a more thorough understanding of Adlerian psychology, which strives to make people comfortable and confident in society.

Adlerian therapy examines feelings of self-worth, anxiety and inferiority to help the person arrive at a sense of belonging.

Among the philosopher’s replies: “Happiness is not something one can enjoy by staying where one is. One has to keep walking along the path one has embarked on.”

Ultimately, the philosopher says, we want to determine the kind of life we should lead.”

“The Courage to be Happy” follows “The Courage to be Disliked,” a big seller in Japan. Kishimi writes and lectures on Adlerian psychology and counsels at the Japanese Society of Adlerian psychology. Koga is a writer who was “deeply affected’ by Adlerian psychology.

For a bigger dose of Adlerian psychology beyond this book, go to Adler Graduate School site: https://alfredadler.edu/about/alfred-adler-theory-application

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