The Road Less Traveled Book Summary, by M. Scott Peck

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1-Page Summary of The Road Less Traveled

Overview

Take the high road, stay on the straight and narrow, take it to the limit: we have all heard these sayings about life. Some of them are about being a good person while others are about bad behavior. However, there’s another path that leads us to spiritual growth and exploration. Let’s look at some key ideas along this path that will help us in everyday life as well as with more metaphysical parts of existence. We’ll also learn why it’s important to delay gratification; how love is something more than just a feeling; and why Adam and Eve were punished for eating from an apple tree – not because they disobeyed God but because they didn’t explore their own potentials.

Big Idea #1: Having a better life starts with practicing self-discipline and developing the habit of delayed gratification.

Life is full of problems. It’s a fact that you have to accept, but it doesn’t mean you should give up. Once you do this, the next step is to find solutions for these problems and work towards solving them.

Most people believe that life should be fair, pleasant and easy. However, this outlook will only lead to disappointment. In contrast, understanding that life is difficult will spur you to assemble the tools needed to get by.

Along with a healthy perspective, the best tools you can have are those that help you practice self-discipline. The first tool is getting familiar with delayed gratification. No one likes to wait for something good when they could have it right away. Many of us would prefer to have dessert before dinner, and we tend to live our lives according to this philosophy. This way of life could be called “play now, pay later”, and people who practice it aren’t necessarily dumb; they’re just controlled by their impulses (or lack thereof).

People struggle with procrastination. People tend to do the easy work first and then spend the rest of their day struggling with boring or difficult tasks.

The author had a patient who suffered from this problem, and he advised her to practice delayed gratification. This meant dealing with the difficult stuff first so that she could have enjoyable hours at the end of work.

Big Idea #2: Discipline also means accepting responsibility, being truthful and striking a healthy balance in life.

Delayed gratification is a tool to help you bring discipline into your life.

To be self-disciplined, you have to accept responsibility for your own life. It’s a common phrase that we hear when we don’t want to deal with something: “It’s not my problem.” But remember: avoidance doesn’t solve anything. M. Scott Peck struggled with this during his psychiatric training, and he asked the director about it. The director told him that it was his own issue with time management rather than an actual problem in the hospital system.

For months, Peck was furious with the director because he wasn’t taking responsibility for a problem. However, it was actually Peck who was avoiding the issue and not trying to find a solution.

A great way to improve self-discipline is to be dedicated to the truth. This means that you are aware of your life and constantly updating your worldview. You can do this by being open with yourself, as well as seeing a therapist for help in analyzing yourself. Another tool for better discipline is balance, which means giving up unhealthy habits or extreme behaviors that throw off your life’s balance.

The author compares his experience to riding a bike down the hill at full speed. He felt an amazing rush, but it was short-lived because he ended up crashing into the forest. As he learned, you have to give up on things that give you a rush if they’re not in your best interest. Otherwise, you risk getting hurt even more than before.

The Road Less Traveled Book Summary, by M. Scott Peck

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