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Summary: 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think: Philosophical Meditations That Will Change Your Life by Brianna Wiest

101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think (2016) is an antidote to anxiety, but not in the way you think. Instead of mounting roadblocks against your darkest feelings, it encourages you to use them as agents of personal growth. Managing your thoughts will lead you toward the daily habits that will bring you fulfillment.

Introduction: 10+1 ideas that will change the way you think.

What if you could transform your life simply by changing the way you think? What if, after changing the way you think, you could enhance your life experience further by controlling the way you feel?

It’s a tall order given what you’ve experienced or what you might have been taught about happiness, but what if happiness wasn’t even the goal?

In her book 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think, Brianna Wiest proposes a radical shake-up of your beliefs in favor of a life that’s well disciplined and controlled – by you.

If control sounds like a restrictive and boring word, think of it as roots that bear juicy fruit and colorful flowers.

See how that changes your perspective?

You’re already changing the way you think, from boring roots to delicious fruits to a wholesome plant. Or – in your case – a human being.

101 Essays is too many for us to give you in a summary. So, instead of 101, we’ve chosen 10+1 of the most powerful ideas.

Book Summary: 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think - Philosophical Meditations That Will Change Your Life

Take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings.

We’re born into a world with entrenched customs and values.

As we grow, we pick up these values subconsciously or through deliberate instruction. Society has mechanisms in place to shame and coerce dissenters as you might have learned at the dinner table or through interactions on social media.

So how can you cope with this monoculture?

This is where your journey starts. You have to recognize and take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings. Your emotional base points should come from inside you. Disconnect them from the external distractions of daily life. Also, understand that sometimes hurtful feelings have no cause and can be eliminated by focusing on something else.

Feel the emotions that come along – and then let them go.

Create a daily routine.

To many, routine can be the direct opposite of a happy and adventurous life.

If you do a bit of research, you’ll find that the most successful people you know had a daily routine that guided them into a steady and familiar rhythm. It’s this rhythm that put them into a state of flow, that point where a creative seems to work effortlessly and endlessly.

Create your own routine by recognizing the small habits that keep your mind steady and calm, and do that every single day. It will help you find safety, eliminate anxiety, and kill procrastination.

Raise your happiness limit.

Believe it or not, you really don’t want to be happy.

You’ve subconsciously created a baseline above which you become uncomfortable and slide back into an acceptable state of happiness.

Think about it: Do you remember times when you held back a celebration because you thought it would make your less-achieving friends uncomfortable?

That was your subconscious warning you about the dangers of standing out. You become a threat, a target. But all you want to do is fit in.

Try raising your happiness limit by holding on to that sweet feeling for longer. Practice gratitude, meditate, and let it expand. You can be happy despite your circumstances. It’s a choice that’s rooted in being your best self.

Let your creativity flow.

We’re all creative beings.

We thrive when we attain a sublime state of expression, whatever form we choose. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors still found the time to paint images on rocks and caves despite the rugged lives they lived.

Humans can’t help themselves. They’re always trying to observe and interpret art wherever it’s displayed.

Find your own means of creative expression and work on it. It doesn’t have to be understood or accepted by anyone else. It only has to be something you enjoy doing. Let it flow without judgment. Don’t heed the temptation to copy.

Do it for its own sake, mindfully, repeatedly, until it becomes a habit and an intuition.

Make your skills autonomous.

How do you automate acquired skills to the point where they become as easy as breathing?

Well, here’s your three-step path to genius!

First, learn all about the skill you’re interested in and its application. Start to apply what you’ve learned and take note of your mistakes so you can improve upon them.

Next, try to recall all the separate parts that go into applying the skill as you do it from memory. Why? Because you’re more likely to remember a series of events than one isolated incident. You’ll find that it becomes easier over time.

The third phase will take you into autopilot through repetition. It’ll feel easier and you’ll get into a state of flow as you subconsciously perform tasks.

Build your self-esteem.

Remember what you learned about using your thoughts to control the way you feel? You can do the same to improve your self-esteem.

Think of it as your ability to manage your own affairs. Consciously and intentionally work and evaluate your skills and you’ll notice how your confidence grows over time.

Hold yourself to high standards of morality, accountability, and ethics that aren’t dictated from outside but controlled by internal values and self-worth. Learn to stand up for yourself in a way that isn’t defensive. Defensiveness comes from fear.

You’re not going to experience highs every single day, but you’ll enjoy a sense of calm knowing that you’re in control of your life.

Balance your passion and purpose.

We’re advised to follow our hearts, but what if we let our heads steer the ship?

The trick isn’t to pick one over the other but to understand where one starts and the other ends. Passion may ignite a desire but will ebb as you make progress.

That’s when the head starts to make sense. Deliberate purpose will keep you focused, help you recognize and learn the skills that will accomplish daily tasks, and grant you the courage to delay instant gratification.

Show gratitude for your small victories. The calmness and grit of purpose trumps the manic attempt to fill that void you might be feeling. Even in personal relationships, shared values can be far more fulfilling.

Avoid distractions.

In a famous essay, French Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot described how being gifted a new scarlet dressing gown made him unhappy and drove him into debt.

His older possessions became boring overnight. He raced to replace them to match the novelty of his new dressing gown. If you’ve ever bought a dress and instantly thought about the shoes that go with it, you get the point.

Ads, friends, and celebrities encourage us to buy more. It’s such an elusive task trying to get satisfaction from a materialistic life.

Instead, keep your mind focused on the things that really matter.

Learn to rest.

So far, we’ve covered a couple ideas that hopefully will change your thinking.

Here’s an encore: there are three more ideas to go. This time, they’ll be super short.

First, learn to rest. Sleep well, reflect, and find the time to be idle. Being laser-focused all the time wears you down. It’s often in the idle moments that your mind processes events and problems and finds solutions.

Avoid judgment.

Avoid judging people. This is especially important when it comes to younger people who’re still trying to find their way in the world. Our natural tendency is to suppress our feelings when we’re judged. But this can often lead to stress and anxiety that pop up later in life.

Change your perspective.

Finally, learn how to use the power of negative thinking to evaluate and improve your life. While you can’t control what the world gives you, you can choose how to play the hand you’re dealt. Instead of resisting negative thoughts, use these scenarios to contemplate how you’ll deal with them. Manage your fear and let it become a motivator.

Changing your perspective will also change the way you approach every hurdle in your life.


Many of the ideas you assume are yours have been inherited from the dominant culture around you. To find your path, you need to block the noise and learn to think on your own. Consciously use your thoughts to decide what’s important. This will change the way you feel about many things as you gain perspective – that window through which you see everything.

From here it’s easier to build a productive routine that will lay the foundation for your purpose, a healthy distance away from the whims of passion. You’ll find true fulfillment when your goals shift from the rush of the final achievement to the daily tasks you’ll come to enjoy. It’s these daily tasks that will transform you into a creative force as you start to function on autopilot. Confidence in your ability to perform and manage your own life will improve your self-esteem.

This is how you start to treat yourself with kindness. It’s also how you treat the world with kindness.


101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think: Philosophical Meditations That Will Change Your Life by Brianna Wiest is a thought-provoking and introspective collection of essays that delves into various philosophical concepts and offers insights to help readers change their perspectives and transform their lives. Wiest’s book presents a comprehensive exploration of profound ideas in a concise and accessible manner, making it suitable for both philosophical enthusiasts and newcomers to the subject.

Wiest’s writing style is clear, concise, and engaging, allowing readers to easily absorb the deeper meaning behind each essay. The book is organized into 101 essays, each covering a different topic or concept, providing readers with a diverse range of philosophical ideas to contemplate. This structure makes it easy to read the book in short bursts or to delve into specific essays based on personal interests or the need for a particular insight.

One of the strengths of this book is its ability to make complex philosophical ideas relatable and applicable to everyday life. Wiest seamlessly connects abstract concepts to real-world experiences, providing readers with practical examples and scenarios to help them understand and internalize the concepts being discussed. This approach allows readers to not only gain a deeper understanding of philosophy but also apply it to their own lives, fostering personal growth and self-reflection.

Furthermore, Wiest’s essays are thought-provoking and encourage readers to question their preconceived notions and beliefs. She challenges readers to explore alternative perspectives and consider different angles of interpretation, ultimately inviting a greater understanding of oneself and the world. By presenting a wide range of philosophical ideas, Wiest encourages readers to engage in critical thinking and develop their own unique philosophies.

While the book covers a vast array of philosophical topics, it maintains a cohesive theme of personal growth and self-discovery throughout. Wiest’s essays explore concepts such as happiness, love, purpose, morality, and the nature of reality. Each essay builds upon the previous one, creating a harmonious narrative that guides readers on a transformative journey of self-exploration.

However, it is worth noting that some readers may find the brevity of each essay to be a double-edged sword. While the concise format allows for easy consumption and quick absorption of ideas, it occasionally leaves readers craving more in-depth analysis and exploration. Some topics may warrant further elaboration and discussion, but the brevity of the essays restricts the depth to which each concept can be explored.

In conclusion, 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think: Philosophical Meditations That Will Change Your Life by Brianna Wiest is a remarkable collection of thought-provoking essays that provides readers with a wealth of philosophical insights. Wiest’s ability to distill complex ideas into accessible and relatable narratives is commendable, and her book serves as a catalyst for personal growth and self-reflection. While the brevity of the essays may leave some readers wanting more, the overall impact of the book is undeniably transformative. Whether you are a seasoned philosopher or a curious newcomer, this book has the potential to change the way you think and inspire profound shifts in your life.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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