3 Key Lessons (and 98 other great ones)

Brianna Wiest’s new book is for everyone, whether you think you need it or not.


photo by Jess Daninhirsch

From open-mindedness to the importance of routines, Wiest’s book lives up to its ambitious title.

Claire Majerac, Opinions Editor

This year for Christmas, I wanted a book. So naturally, I went to the internet to find a good one. I started scrolling through my Instagram feed, looking for self-help books recommended by influencers.

Nothing I found there looked interesting to me, so I took to Tik Tok. After a few days of keeping a careful watch on my “For You” page, I saw a video recommending 101 Essays that will Change the Way You Think, by Brianna Wiest. I sent the link to my Mom and it appeared underneath the Christmas tree last month.

While I am not going to review all one hundred and one essays today, I am going to highlight three essays that I found to be particularly interesting and eye-opening.


Essay #1: “Subconscious Behaviors That Are Keeping You From Having The Life You Want

This essay can speak to those with a habit of self-sabotage, but it particularly can be most beneficial to those who do not even realize it. The essay is a fitting start to the book, as it highlights the importance of keeping an open mind. It begins by illustrating that finding happiness is not simply chasing what you have decided will make you happy. In the grand scheme of life, we have little idea what will make us happy, and instantly labeling something as “bad” because it is not what we originally wanted may be close-minded, pulling us farther from a positive growth mindset. 

While the essay addresses eight total behaviors, the final behavior was so intriguing that I had to put the book down and think about it for five minutes before being able to comprehend it. 

The eighth behavior states that those who “try to change other people, situations, and things… are identifying a disassociated aspect” of themselves. These “disassociated aspects” of ourselves are called our “shadow selves.” They are parts of our personality that either we or society at large has convinced us were “not okay.” So when we see other people so nonchalantly displaying these behaviors, we react negatively. The things that we dislike in others are things that we are trying hard to not see in ourselves, and the things that we love about others are the things we love about ourselves.

Essay #2: “The Psychology of a Daily Routine”

This essay explains how a daily routine can not only make you more productive during your day, but it can also calm anxiety. By having something known and practiced to do, you can take comfort in the fact that you know what you are doing each day (to an extent) and are not wandering astray. When the unpredictable occurs, you can know that you have a routine that will always stay constant if you practice it enough.

While a routine seems boring at a surface level, it can really be anything you want it to be. It could be to try something new every day, such as a new hairstyle. It does not really matter what exactly your routine is, as long as you adhere to it. 

Routine, according to the essay, reaffirms a decision we already made. Say you want to achieve better health and decide to work out every day. According to the essay, by working out daily you not only are affirming belief in yourself that you can acquire better health but are also fortifying your ability to be committed to your health.

Essay #3: “16 Signs of an Emotionally Intelligent Person

This essay inspired me to really think about my opinions and the ways in which I convey them. According to the author, an emotionally intelligent person does not “speak in definitive” regarding others, politics, and ideas. According to the essay, an intelligent person does not condemn an idea by calling it wrong. The whole reason for an idea to exist is that it rings true to another person, not necessarily you. It is the epitome of close-mindedness to ignore any other perspective on an idea. Rather, an intelligent response to an idea you do not agree with would be something like “I do not personally understand this idea or agree with it.”

With the divisiveness of the news and social media platforms where people can filter what they hear, see, and read, it is more important than ever to have conversations where we expose ourselves to more than one point of view. But at the heart of this essay is the declaration that an emotionally intelligent person will only argue with those who are willing to learn from others, not those who simply want to win. 


101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think is perfect both for those looking for self-improvement tips and for those who simply want a new topic to read about every few pages.