Catholic Summary of Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled

Quick Summary: “The Road Less Traveled”, written in 1978 by Scott Peck, is one of the most popular & influential psychology books ever written. There are 4 main sections: discipline, love, religion, and grace.

Personal Note: I was asked to read this book from a friend. Setting aside any critique of the book, I’ve decided just to list one key ideas that I found valuable.

Key Quote:

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” – Scott Peck

Rather than live in the delusion that life should be fair & pleasant (which leads only to disappointment), we need to accept the fact that life is hard & difficult.

Rather than be controlled by your impulses (“play now pay later” mentality), we need to bear down and deal with the difficult stuff first. Peck calls this process “delayed gratification” – that is, the scheduling the pain and pleasure of life by experiencing the pain 1st, by sacrificing present comfort for future benefit.

Avoiding problems causes delayed psychological disorders, while confronting problems causes short-term pain but long-term growth.

Catholic insight: Jesus fully accepted the challenges of life. He lived out Peck’s idea of delayed gratification to the utmost.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Jesus knew that life is hard. God fully entered into the difficulties of human life.

Here is a great sermon from Louie Giglio talking about the Christian paradox of how “life is hard. God is good.”

These are 2 things I can guarantee. We need to accept the difficulty of life. And in doing so, we can live life to the full today!

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