Real Love Book Summary - Real Love Book explained in key points
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Real Love summary

Sharon Salzberg

The Art of Mindful Connection

4.5 (345 ratings)
25 mins

Brief summary

Real Love by Sharon Salzberg offers practical advice for cultivating lasting love and compassion in all of our relationships, starting with ourselves. This book teaches us how to break free from negative patterns and experience the true joy of love in our lives.

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    Real Love
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    The stories told about our lives have a significant impact on how we see ourselves, for better or for worse.

    No one knows our lives better than we do, right? It follows then that the stories we share about our experiences will be honest accounts. Well, it turns out that’s not the case. None of us are reliable narrators, no matter whose life we’re talking about – not even our own.

    Our brains constantly seek to make sense of the events that happen in our lives, filling in any gaps to create cohesive narratives. These stories are so powerful that we assume they must be true, but they’re often misleading. For instance, a child bitten by a dog might believe that all dogs are aggressive. This story will create a lifelong fear of every dog he encounters. 

    These faulty narratives not only shape how we see the world around us, they can also unconsciously influence how we view ourselves. For example, when Diane’s fiancé broke off their engagement, she dismissed her own serious doubts about the relationship and concluded that she was “unlovable.” This story of unlovability was one Diane had been telling herself since childhood, so it felt logical to her that she was the sole reason her relationship had failed. 

    The stories other people tell about our lives also muddy how we see ourselves. Through their words and actions, our family members and friends can significantly shape our attitudes toward ourselves.

    This is the experience Gus had as a child. Gus had four rowdy brothers, and his love for books and music labeled him as different in his roughhousing, outdoorsy Montana family. His dislike for their passions – camping, hunting and fishing – meant his family members often put him down. 

    Luckily, Gus also experienced the positive impact stories can have. His uncle Don saw value in his sensitivity and would stand up for Gus, calling him gifted. Over time, Gus’s family began to celebrate his uniqueness, which helped Gus embrace who he was.

    Once we’re aware that we can all be unreliable narrators – whether we’re telling stories about ourselves or others – we can pay attention to the angle from which we’re telling our stories. For example, remember Diane’s story of being unlovable? She was able to identify it and then reframe it into a more healthy story by practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, which we’ll be looking at in the blinks ahead.

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    What is Real Love about?

    Real Love (2017) draws our attention to the habits and cultural conditioning that stop us from forming deep connections with others. By inviting us to expand our notions of love and the ways in which we practice it in our day-to-day lives, Sharon Salzberg provides practical advice on how we can strengthen our relationships and experience more joy. 

    Real Love Review

    Real Love (2017) explores the transformative power of love and offers insights on how to cultivate genuine connections in our relationships. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its emphasis on empathy, compassion, and kindness, it provides practical tools to deepen our understanding of love and create more meaningful connections.
    • Supported by personal stories, anecdotes, and examples, the book offers relatable and relatable advice, making it an engaging and relatable read.
    • By challenging traditional notions of love and exploring the deeper meaning behind our relationships, Real Love encourages readers to reevaluate and reframe their approach to love, fostering personal growth and fulfillment.

    Best quote from Real Love

    We learn from conflicts only when we are willing to do so.

    —Sharon Salzberg
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    Who should read Real Love?

    • Couples who want to learn how to handle conflict constructively
    • Sufferers of low self-esteem hoping to develop self-love
    • People seeking deeper connections with others

    About the Author

    Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher in the field of meditation. Author of the New York Times best seller Real Happiness, she has been a pioneer in bringing mindfulness into mainstream culture. Through her many other titles, her regular columns for On Being and Huffington Post and her own podcast – The Metta Hour – Salzberg makes Buddhist teachings accessible to contemporary, Western audiences.

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    Real Love FAQs 

    What is the main message of Real Love?

    The main message of Real Love is that love is a practice that can transform our relationships and bring us lasting happiness.

    How long does it take to read Real Love?

    The reading time for Real Love varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Real Love a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Real Love is a valuable read for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of love and improve their relationships. It offers practical insights and actionable advice.

    Who is the author of Real Love?

    The author of Real Love is Sharon Salzberg.

    What to read after Real Love?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Real Love, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Powers of Two by Joshua Wolf Shenk
    • Real Life by Sharon Salzberg
    • I Didn't Know I Needed This by Eli Rallo
    • Intimacy & Desire by David Schnarch
    • Listen Like You Mean It by Ximena Vengoechea
    • In Praise Of Love by Alain Badiou
    • The Love Prescription by John Gottman & Julie Schwartz Gottman
    • Love Sense by Sue Johnson
    • How to Think More About Sex by Alain de Botton
    • How to Know a Person by David Brooks