The Road Less Traveled Summary & Critical Review

Attitude Life Mindset Personal Development Philosophy Psychology Spirituality

What’s in it? Quick Summary

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck is about understanding and examining our knowledge, taking responsibility, cultivating discipline, and thus understanding spiritual love by avoiding the false romantic definitions that are so popular.

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About the author

M. Scott Peck was a psychiatrist, author and a public speaker, best known for his book, The Road Less Traveled (1978).

He wrote several other books, including People of the Lie (1983) and The Different Drum (1987). He was also a professor at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

His work on spiritual growth has been credited as a major influence on contemporary psychology. He has also been featured on several television programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live. He died on September 25, 2005.

Learn more about the author:

The Road Less Traveled Meaning?

The Road Less Traveled means that living life like nobody else.

It means that instead of living in illusory bubbles and fairy tales, we should examine the reality and aspire for knowledge and understanding.

We should challenge our beliefs by questioning them.

We should strive to find the truth that often gets lost.

It means pushing ourselves to higher and higher levels of our spiritual selves.

Most people follow the same patterns throughout their lives. They follow the same script without even looking whether it’s right or not.

So, that’s what does it mean to travel the road that’s less traveled?

It means living differently from others.

But don’t misinterpret the word “differently.” You don’t have to rebel for the sake of it.

Such crucial decisions must come from one’s own understanding.

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The Road Less Traveled Summary

Looking for the best book summary of The Road Less Traveled?

Well, good for you!

Because I’ve listed 5 best lessons from this book that will help you grow spiritually and philosophically.

Alrighty, so without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Lesson #1: Accept suffering and life will be easy.

Most of us go around in life thinking that life is supposed to full of rainbows and butterflies.

We live in fairy tales.

But no matter how much we reject it, the truth is that life is full of suffering.

The harder you try to rebel with this idea, the more you find yourself suffering.

We suffer because we dislike the impermanent nature of reality.

We wish for the reality to be something that it is not.

That’s where the root of suffering lies.

We expect things to happen our way, and when they don’t, it hurts.

We seek security in uncertainty.

Likewise, we seek pleasure in the ocean of suffering.

This doesn’t mean that happiness and joy are not possible at all.

This is not negative thinking.

The problem is more fundamental.

Most people don’t understand the definitions of happiness and joy in the first place.

So, just as with anything else in life, we expect things to be in a certain way.

We don’t accept suffering in life because we don’t want the life to be seen as a collection of sufferings.

Anytime, you move away from reality, you choose delusion.

We create delusions through ideas and suffer because we didn’t decide to look and examine the reality.

We believe it is easy to be deluded.

It’s not true.

It is actually more difficult to be in delusion, counterintuitively.

It brings more pain and suffering when you live in delusion.

It’s more painful to stick to false beliefs and ideas that are based on an ideal world that doesn’t exist.

That’s why it’s better to see the reality as it is.

Life is full of suffering. 

But the best part is: It’s possible to reduce it by accepting the true nature of life.

So accept that suffering and happiness, both, are part of a package.

When you accept suffering, it feels less painful. 

You become stronger by embracing truth.

Many people would not want to hear that on a happy day.

But please remember that my goal here is to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Keep reading to learn more…

Lesson #2: Love is not about being romantic.

Today, the word “love” has become a cliché.

Everybody talks about it, but nobody understands its correct definition.

Let us begin by discussing what love is not, then we will gain clarity on what it actually is.

Love is not merely romanticism.

Yes, it’s different from what you see in movies.

It’s not about being happy all the time and expecting some things from our partners.

Love is not easy.

It’s surprising how romantic movies talk about falling in love. 

They say, “Love is blind, anybody can fall in love.”

This is not true at all.

If you follow this silly definition of love, and confuse “love” with “romanticism” you should become serious.

That’s because these flawed concepts create more suffering in our lives.

Remember, clinging to false concepts is suffering, we have to understand the truth.

“Love” is all about growth.

Note the word “growth” here.

The person who truly loves another person is concerned about spiritual growth of another person.

But he doesn’t expect anything from that person.

Allow me to explain.

To understand the true meaning of love, you must understand spirituality.

We are born to expand, says the author, and that’s where all the thirst for knowledge comes from.

So, love is about extending yourself to become something more than our physical bodies.

It’s about growth in spiritual essence.

Genuine love is about becoming capable enough and so that you can help the other person grow and expand spiritually.

Now compare this definition with the lie that is sold to us.

Real love demands effort, dedication, discipline, commitment, patience, knowledge, etc.

While fake love demands no such thing.

Instead, it’s based on the idea that the other person will make you complete. 

Fake love is delusional. 

It hides the insecurities under the blanket of romanticism.

That’s why when you say that it’s easy to fall in love, it only proves that it’s easy to fall in delusion.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t like another person. 

It means that true love is not random and accidental. It’s always based on understanding.

If this confuses you, just remember that you have to learn how to love, it doesn’t happen by chance.

Lesson #3: Discipline is impossible without learning delayed gratification.

In simple words, discipline is delaying pleasure in the present moment so that we can gain long-term happiness in the long term.

Sounds simple, right?

It’s harder than you think.

Human mind has a tendency to avoid any kind of suffering.

Remember, we tend to ignore the pain of taking any responsibilities and often delay our projects until the deadline is close.

Both procrastination and delayed gratification are enemies of each other.

If you learn how to delay gratification, you’ll procrastinate less and take responsibility for your life.

But if you can’t delay gratification, it’ll be harder for you to avoid the traps of life.

Most traps in life are centered around pleasure.

That’s why so many fall into it.

We are wired to chase pleasure or instant gratification.

However, growth is not possible without discipline.

To grow in life, you need discipline.

And discipline requires delaying gratification.

Many people tend to ignore major issues like climate change, mental health, etc. because these problems demand everybody to take responsibility.

Basically, it’s boring hard work that requires patience and discipline.

Just think about it.

The author believes that ignoring bigger issues is a mental illness.

And he is quite right.

No wise person would ignore larger issues in front of impermanent pleasure.

So train your mind slowly to get over this issue.

Lesson #4: We all have a philosophy, even if we don’t realize it.

Philosophy means love for wisdom.

Nobody knows better than wise people how to live a meaningful life.

You might say, “But I’m not a philosopher.”

You are correct.

But the thing is: Nobody lives without beliefs.

Everybody has a map to navigate this complex life.

And that map is your personal philosophy.

Although, it’s debatable whether it’s really personal or not.

It’s just that many people don’t realize which map they are carrying.

Note the word “realize” here.

It means to fully understand something.

As many people don’t understand their philosophy, they choose only those ideas that they find convenient.

And there is pleasure in convenience.

It is worth noting that pleasure isn’t bad in itself.

But if most of your life is based on achieving maximum gratification, then I believe, you should reevaluate your map.

While talking about philosophy, you also can’t ignore “religion” here.

I know, I know, when we hear the word “religion” it rings all kinds of bells in our minds.

But realize that most religions in the world are philosophical teachings carried forward by wise people so that we all can grow spiritually.

As we all have some kind of philosophy in our minds, it’s time we examine what it is. Because if you ignore it, chances are you may end up confused in life. Not knowing what to do and which principles to base your life on.

Many people don’t revise their maps because they want to avoid putting in the work.

There is pain in taking responsibility. 

It’s the same bad procrastination thingy that we do daily.

You don’t derive any kind of pleasure by questioning your rigid beliefs.

The good part is: Once you figure out your philosophy, your life gets sorted.

You become wiser. 

That means: You know exactly what to do and what not to do.

In the book, the author even says that “we all are religious.”

I hope now you understand why he says so.

Always remember that the goal of every philosophy is to help you become wiser so that you use your resources wisely and elevate yourself consciously as a spiritual being.

Practically speaking, you should constantly examine your knowledge and revise your ideas so that you don’t follow bad philosophy.

Sound interesting? Keep reading to learn more.

Lesson #5: True spiritual growth is impossible without embracing scientific skepticism and examining reality.

In the last lesson, we learned how we all have a philosophy or religion.

Now if you are scientific, you might say, “I only believe in scientific laws and nothing else. I don’t care what the author of this book says or thinks.”

Wait, before I move forward, allow me to clarify: I love science. And I also love philosophy.

That is why I believe I can assist you with this matter.

Okay, so here is the thing: Both science and religion, regardless of how far apart and different they might look from each other, go hand in hand with each other.

Don’t believe me?

Allow me to explain.

First, let’s understand, “What is Science?

Science studies object and physical laws of the universe.

In the authors’ words, it studies anything that can be measured.

If you can’t measure it, science doesn’t bother.

On the flip side, philosophy charters in the unknown areas where science fails to measure.

For example, there is no way to measure human values. You can’t measure how wise a person.

Sure, you can estimate and compare. But again, it’s subjective.

In contrast, you can measure an object’s height and weight. The observers can reach a common conclusion and call it a day.

The same is true for the forces and laws of physical nature.

You can throw a ball from a certain height and the gravitational force will pull it downwards.

You can repeat this experiment thousands of times under the same condition, you’ll get the same result.

Science is experimental. You are welcome to question anything.

In the case of philosophy, things often get complicated.

It is possible that two philosophers might never reach an agreement and arrive at two different conclusions.

The reason? It’s subjective.

 Why does philosophy even exists?

The beauty of philosophy is because of its unconventional element.

There are set rules in science, it has to follow discovered laws of reality. While philosophy questions those rules.

Although we all feel proud while learning science and technologies, the author says that it has a tunnel vision.

Science is incomplete without philosophy.

Now do you get it? They are both connected.

In short, by embracing both philosophy (religion) and science, we can reach greater possibilities.

True growth is only possible when you are capable to identify false ideas and discover the truth. 

So be both scientific and philosophical (religious).

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The Road Less Traveled Review

Here are my thoughts on this book:


  • Beautifully explains complex topics like religion and spirituality.
  • Combines science with spiritual wisdom.
  • Talks about taking responsibility and also highlights the importance of delayed gratification in detail.
  • Best for serious readers who have a growth mindset.


  • Not for occasional readers.
  • Doesn’t dive deeper into many advanced topics.
  • Some people may misinterpret many ideas unless they have some knowledge about the concepts discussed.
  • Some readers may find this book a bit dull, especially if they have no idea about various religions and spiritual wisdom.
  • This book is not for fun. It’s for serious people only.

If you want to take your thinking capabilities to the next level, this is it. Don’t think much, read this book.

You’ll learn so many wonderful insights.

You can buy the book in your preferable format below.

Get the Audiobook: Listen free with Audible Trial

Get the Paperback version: View price on Amazon

Get the Hardcover version: View price on Amazon

FAQs about The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck

Is the road less Travelled a good book?

Yes, the books is great for people who strive to improve their spiritual knowledge with skepticism.

What Kind of book is The Road Less Traveled?

The book teaches values and spirituality. But at the same time, it keeps a scientfic approach.

Who is the author of the book The Road Less Traveled?

M. Scott Peck

How many copies of the Road Less Traveled have been sold?

10 Million Copies have been sold.

Is M Scott Peck still alive?

No, the author lived till 2005.

What is the message from The Road Less Traveled?

The main idea is that you learn delayed gratification and be skeptical about what you believe in.

How many pages are in The Road Less Traveled?

304 pages in total.

How does the writer define the idea of love in The Road Less Traveled?

According to the author, love is more than romanticism. In fact, it’s quite different. It’s about spiritual growth and becoming something more than our limited ego.

What is the first sentence in The Road Less Traveled?

The first sentence is: “Life is difficult…”

Now it’s your turn

Now you tell me:

Do you understand the meaning of true love now?

What is love according to you?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

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