The Road Less Travelled – A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spirtual Growth

Author: M Scott Peck

Genre: Self-Help, Psychology

Often when my teenage daughters come back upset, moaning about their problems, I lovingly direct them towards the famous opening lines of this book:

Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths… because (only) when we truly see this truth, we transcend it.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.”

This book has sold more than 10 million copies, a very rare feat for a heavy, sober work like this. Dr Peck has distilled his years of experience as a psychiatrist (Harvard, Case Western) into a new way of living. He borrows from traditional philosophies like Buddhism, mystical Islam, Christianity and his own patient case studies to present “a new psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth.”

His basic premise is that the “tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human illness.” And therefore “let us teach ourselves and our children the necessity for suffering, the need to face problems directly and to experience the pain involved.” The first part exhorts us to develop a deep sense of discipline using 4 tools: “delaying gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth and balancing.” Indeed, multiple studies, including Stanford’s Marshmallow experiment, have shown that kids that learn early on to delay gratification, to willingly forego instant pleasure, do much better in life. Similarly, balancing is the art of handling multiple conflicting priorities together