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Book: Single. On Purpose. 

Author:  John Kim

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Kim, J. (2021). Single. On purpose : Find yourself first. New York, NY: HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. We must get rid of one of the greatest misconceptions about life, the idea that you can't be happy unless you are with someone. I've coached thousands of singles, and every one of them believed that they couldn't be happy unless they found a partner. Singlehood meant they were defective. The truth is, you don't have to be in a relationship to be happy. Sure, relationships can bring you lots of joy. But a relationship is not required for you to be happy. It's not the only way to find joy in your life. Your happiness isn't contingent on loving someone else. That's something that's been programmed into you by movies, advertising, social media, and social norms. (pg. 8)

  2. When you're in a relationship, you have a responsibility to continue to take care of yourself, and feeling confident is part of that. Remember, love is a choice. Your partner is choosing to love you, but that doesn't mean they find you just as attractive as they did at first. You should not stop doing everything you were doing to take care of yourself when you got into the relationship. You should actually be doing more. We think that just because we are now in a relationship, our work on ourselves can stop or slow down. When you stop caring it’s not just how you look that becomes unattractive, but the fact that you don't care about how you look. Neglecting your appearance can flip the switch and change the entire dynamic of the relationship. Attraction is not a constant. If you want your partner to continue to be attracted to you, you have to continue to work on being attractive. (pg. 166)

  3. One of the most common things my clients struggle with is constantly being in their head, either dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future. I call this living in a time machine. It's the time machines that crippled us the most when we are single. When we are not with someone we dwell on our past and obsess about our future. When we have someone we think about our partner and about the relationship. But when we’re single, we're left alone with ourselves. This can be an uncomfortable place that we're not used to. We live in time machines without realizing that dwelling on the past and the future creates nothing but anxiety. (pg. 206)​


Other Key Ideas:

I have struggled with singlehood and also lost myself in relationships. I have jumped into things way too fast after break-up was still fresh. Within days, I've been “back on the market”, swiping to find someone else to lose myself in. Because I didn't want to be alone. Because I didn't want to eat by myself. But on a deeper level, because I needed to prove to myself that I was desirable, lovable, and worthy. And it's really hard to feel that on a Friday night when you're at home eating your feelings. (pg. 1)

The motivation to write this book came from coaching thousands of people who were experiencing severe depression because they were single. Many of them had successful careers. But because they had nothing to do on a Friday night, they saw themselves as failures. They internalized the idea of not having a partner as being defective. Most have been in nothing but toxic, lopsided relationships, and yet being single was worse. They figured something was wrong with them. A lot of them were in their 30s or 40s, and they felt like time was running out. (pg. 4)

We have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day. Most of those thoughts not only are negative but are the same thoughts we had yesterday. Most of us don't think about our thoughts. We just allow them in and we can drown in them. Sometimes they consume us, control us, making us tense and anxious, keeping us in a panic state. When this happens, we're pulled out of the present and start to live in our heads. That's not actually living. It's just worrying a lot. Step one is to notice your thoughts. Don't judge them. Just practice noticing them. (pg. 64)

We need friends. They are not a luxury or a privilege. Or something we should invest in when we have more time. We are hardwired for human connection. We forget that human connection comes in many forms besides romance. I don't know what it will look like for you, but if you don't take action and put yourself out there, you will be depriving yourself of one of your fundamental needs. We are tribal creatures. We're not meant to do life alone. And if our social network isn't wide enough, we're going to put too much pressure on the relationships we do have. (pg. 89)

With fewer spaces and opportunities to find friends as adults, we have to put more effort into finding and investing in friendships. As adults, we also have more responsibilities and less free time, so finding and investing in friendships usually takes a backseat to all the adulting we're trying to do. Suddenly we have no friends. Now all our happy chips are on our relationship, our children, our family. This of course puts more pressure on our relationship, our children, and our family to make us happy. And that's not fair to them. (pg. 94)

I have compared my relationships with previous ones. I’d compared current loves with previous girls because the feeling of that young love in the past was so powerful. I hadn't yet learned that relationship dysfunction feels like crack cocaine. And that's what I was chasing. Not love. Real love doesn't knock your socks off. Real love holds up a mirror. (pg. 129)

One of the greatest gifts my ex-wife gave me was a hard line in the sand. Firm boundaries. She tapered off all communication, texts, emails, phone calls. I didn't understand how you could go from knowing each other for 10 years to not knowing each other at all. Her cutting the cord forced me to go on my own journey. There's no way around this one. You must unfriend, unfollow, and unsubscribe. Stop texting and calling. You have to let go. (pg. 141)

To become more mindful and more grateful, start by training your brain to find joy in little things. Like the first sip of your morning coffee or the feeling after a hard workout. None of these small joys are contingent on something big happening first. You can find them every single day by practicing the art of producing joy. (pg. 198)

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