Brave Enough Book Notes

This is a short collection of feel good rah rah quotes and aphorisms by advice column queen Cheryl Strayed.  A quick read and possibly a good (easy) intro to her work, this is a consolidation of quotes from her various other works.  If you just want to read the best of Cheryl Strayed, read Tiny Beautiful Things [public library].  It is a collection of her advice column replies as Dear Sugar, and it is raw, beautiful, empathy-teaching, realistic, and possibly the best primer on how to be a good person in our day and age.

From Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough [public library]:

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success.  You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life.”


“Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.”


On accepting suffering:

“You do that by simply looking at what pains you squarely in the face and then moving on.  You don’t have to move fast or far.  You can go just an inch.  You can mark your progress breath by breath.”


“There are some things you can’t understand yet…it’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again.  And again.”


“Stop asking yourself what you want, what you desire, what interests you.  Ask yourself instead: What has been given to me?  Ask: What do I have to give back?  Then give it.”


On jealousy and bitterness: let go and try to be grateful and hopeful

“There isn’t a thing to eat down there in the rabbit hole of your bitterness except your own desperate heart.”


“Hello, fear.  Thank you for being here.  You’re my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.”


“The useless days will add up to something.  The shitty waitressing jobs.  The hours writing in your journal.  The long, meandering walks.  The days reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries…”


“The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker.  It is not fragility.  It’s strength.  It’s nerve.  And ‘if your Nerve, deny you–,’ as Emily Dickinson wrote, ‘Go above your Nerve.’”


“Some facts of your childhood will remain immutable, but others won’t.  You may never make sense of the bad things that happened to you, but with work and with mindfulness, with understanding and heart, you will make sense of yourself.”


“Don’t do what you know on a gut level to be the wrong thing to do.  Don’t stay when you know you should go or go when you know you should stay.  Don’t fight when you should hold steady or hold steady when you should fight.  Don’t focus on the short-term fun instead of the long-term fallout.”


“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out.  You don’t have a career.  You have a life.”


“We do not have the right to feel helpless.  We must help ourselves.  After destiny has delivered what it delivers, we are responsible for our lives.”


“Accept that their actions hurt you deeply.  Accept that this experience taught you something you didn’t want to know…Accept that it’s going to take a long time for you to get that monster out of your chest.”


“It is folly to measure your success in money or fame.  Success is measured only by your ability to say yes to these two questions:


Did I do the work I needed to do?
Did I give it everything I had?

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