The Art of Living Book Summary - The Art of Living Book explained in key points
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The Art of Living summary

Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now

4.7 (432 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh is a guide to living in the present moment, cultivating mindfulness, and achieving peace and happiness in everyday life. Hanh offers insights on mindfulness practices, meditation, and communication to help readers achieve a more fulfilling and compassionate life.

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    The Art of Living
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 7

    There is no such thing as a separate self.

    What is a flower made of? The obvious answer is a stem, leaves, and petals – things you can easily see. But, in reality, there’s much more to it than this. 

    A flower is also the soil that nurtured it, the rain that watered it, and the sun that gave it light. Even space and time are part of its existence. If you removed any of these “nonflower” elements, the flower wouldn’t exist. 

    Humans are no different. Your body is made of trillions of nonhuman cells that keep you alive. In fact, you have the whole cosmos inside you, from the air you breathe and the food you eat to the education and culture that shape who you are.

    And then there are your ancestors – generations of them spanning back through time. If you removed any of these elements from yourself, you simply wouldn’t be.

    The key message here is: There is no such thing as a separate "self."

    Human beings are not separate entities. Instead, every person is an interbeing – a combination of elements drawn from sources that exist across time and space.

    Children showcase this interbeing clearly. A child won’t just look like her parents; she’ll speak and act like them, too. Similarly, if you look at her parents, you’ll find traces of the child. So, neither the child nor her parents are a separate “self.” They are too deeply connected to exist independently.

    It’s not only our genes that make us interbeings. In fact, it doesn’t even require personal contact. Just look at Zen master and author Thich Nhat Hanh. He doesn’t have genetic children, but if you observe his students, you’ll see that they move and speak like him. Even students who have only read his books embody traces of him.

    If you visualize your ancestors or the presence of your teachers while you go about your daily activities, you can connect to all existence. Reminding yourself that you’re not alone can be a great comfort, no matter what you’re going through.

    So whether you’re washing the dishes, working on a project, or practicing a skill, you have an opportunity to acknowledge that you are part of the living, breathing cell we call the world. And not only that – the world is part of you, too.



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    What is The Art of Living about?

    The Art of Living (2017) offers wisdom on how to fully experience every moment of every day. Many of us are consumed with fears or busyness that prevent us from engaging with the wonder of life. But by expanding our understanding of existence and embracing mindfulness practices, we can overcome the obstacles that stop us from truly living.

    The Art of Living Review

    The Art of Living (2012) by Thich Nhat Hanh is a poignant exploration of mindfulness and the pursuit of happiness. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Illustrating the power of living in the present moment, it offers practical guidance on finding joy and peace in everyday life.
    • Through relatable stories and profound insights, the book helps readers cultivate compassion, gratitude, and interconnectedness with the world.
    • With its refreshing perspective on mindful living, it introduces readers to transformative practices that can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful existence.

    Best quote from The Art of Living

    To lose the present moment is to lose our only chance to encounter life.

    —Thich Nhat Hanh
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    Who should read The Art of Living?

    • Stressed-out individuals longing for peace
    • Ambitious people seeking stillness
    • Anyone interested in Buddhism

    About the Author

    Thich Nhat Hahn was a Buddhist monk, peace activist, and the author of over 100 books. His titles, including the best seller Anger, range from manuals on meditation to children’s stories and poetryIn 1967, Thich Nhat Hahn was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr. 

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    The Art of Living FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Art of Living?

    The main message of The Art of Living is to find peace and happiness through mindfulness and living in the present moment.

    How long does it take to read The Art of Living?

    The reading time for The Art of Living varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Art of Living a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Art of Living is a worthwhile read for those seeking mindfulness and inner peace. It offers practical wisdom for daily life.

    Who is the author of The Art of Living?

    The author of The Art of Living is Thich Nhat Hanh.

    What to read after The Art of Living?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Art of Living, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn