Author: Lori Tsugawa Whaley
Source: Received for an honest review
Blurb: Are you concerned about the direction our society seems to be taking? Do you feel concern not only for yourself, but also for younger generations such as your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren? Is it your desire to leave this earth a better place because of you and your contributions?
Life is full of challenges. Tests and trials can allow a stronger you to emerge. In order to survive and grow in these difficult times, do you know how to weather the storm? Do you have a strategy in place to overcome the challenges that you face?
Whether a person in transition, a parent, business person or all of these, what can be learned from the bushido code of the samurai? Who were the samurai and how could a people dedicated to war and violence have such an impact on a culture known for its politeness, manners and aesthetic beauty?
The samurai warrior of ancient Japan lived by a moral and ethical code known as bushido; ‘the way of the warrior.’ This code of chivalry sculpted a culture and influenced all aspects of Japanese society. After the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, the world witnessed the characteristics of bushido: courage, Integrity, honesty, honor, benevolence, respect and ganbaru. The Courage of a Samurai presents these principles as a guide for navigating the challenges we all face personally and professionally, with examples of individuals who exemplify their meaning in today’s world.
I don't often enjoy self-help books. I've had too much counselling for them to offer me something new and I'm just not the sort of person who believes the "think positively and positive things will happen" sort of mantras. But The Courage of a Samurai really appealed to me, it sounded different so I was happy to give it a try.
And I am really glad I did. This book is a game-changer. I never felt patronised and the writing was easy to get into. But most importantly I really connected with the book. When I was reading it I was thoroughly engrossed and when I wasn't reading I was thinking about it. The principles of Courage, Integrity, Benevolence, Respect, Honesty, Honor and Loyalty are all things I'd love to believe I possess but also could probably do with mastering and also felt very helpful and relevant for today's world - even though they were drawn from historical examples.
This isn't like self-help books in that it doesn't promise to make your life better as such. Instead it's more about making the right decisions, behaving in a good and honorable way. In her preface Lori acknowledges that this does sometimes cost a person, that it does sometimes involve sacrifices. But I felt inspired anyway. Or maybe because of this. It's rare to find someone who tells you that being good doesn't always make good things happen to you - but it's still important to do the right thing even when it costs you.
My favourite section was the one on Honesty. Because if I am being honest - that is the principle I have the most problems with.
"The negative effects of honesty are rejection, hostility, and hurt feelings. How often do we find it more convenient to deviate from the truth? The ultimate effects of being honest are much more far reaching—they bring peace of mind and a positive sense of self-worth."
This quote really stood out to me. I've lied for convenience's sake more times than I'd probably care to admit. To avoid rejection or hurt feelings (mine or other peoples). So this definitely rings true. And I very much want to reach for that peace of mind and self-worth. I also appreciated how Lori tied together principles. For example to be honest you must be courageous.
The book is also filled with case studies and examples of people living their lives by these principles - whether they did so consciously or not. And these were interesting and helpful. I also liked learning about Japanese culture. Which is not something I've really come into contact with before (British schools being very Britain focused).
I'm pretty sure this is a book I will be re-reading. I also want to get myself a physical copy so I can put it in my handbag and refer to it when I need a little reminder. I don't think I have magically become a better person just by reading this, but it inspired me to want to become a better person and gave me the ideals I need to stand by. And that's a great first step.