An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth teaches you how to live better by taking lessons from the rigorous requirements of going to outer space and applying them to everyday life.

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Recently, I was surfing the internet when I came across a link to apply to be an astronaut. I’ve always been fascinated by space and the idea of going there. After opening the link, I was surprised to find out that I qualify to submit an application to be considered for an astronaut position!

It got me thinking about what things would really be like in space. Would I be able to handle the stress, homesickness, and other psychological and physical demands? What do astronauts even do? 

That’s when I discovered astronaut Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth. This book teaches the fascinating ins and outs of life in outer space and preparing for it. But what’s really cool is that it compares many of these to real life on Earth, teaching us all how to be happier and better people.

Here are the 3 most cosmic lessons I learned from this astronaut:

  1. Living in space requires a lot of preparation, which is a key component to having a good life on Earth no matter what you do.
  2. If you want to survive as a space explorer, you’ve got to learn how to take criticism, which is a skill we can all learn to be happier.
  3. Coming back to Earth after being in outer space is difficult, but also gives astronauts a new outlook and sense of appreciation.

Ground control to Major Tom. Are you ready for liftoff? Let’s rocket into these lessons!

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Lesson 1: You’ve got to learn the importance of preparation if you want to go to outer space and if you want to live a successful life.

“Be prepared.”

It’s the motto for the Boy Scouts of America, and something I’ve never forgotten since my time in the organization. While I tend to overprepare sometimes, it always baffles me how people can’t help but make their lives harder by failing to plan.

If you want to become an astronaut, this skill is absolutely vital. It doesn’t matter how much education or experience you have. The training involves rigorous studying and simulations of situations that might never even happen. 

People who create training at NASA have to prepare unpredictable scenarios where every possible thing goes wrong. It’s vital to be ready if there’s a fire or a computer doesn’t work right. 

But for those going through the training, it gives them new instincts. When something goes wrong, the natural fight-or-flight response is overridden by the calm yet urgent way in which these individuals are trained. This even helps them improvise when things turn into chaos on a mission and they must act fast to save their lives.

This skill isn’t just useful for going to space though. It helps to be ready for any obstacle that suddenly shows up. When I lost my job last year, for example, some of my preparations made that a lot easier. 

In Hadfield’s experience, the training gave him a sort of mental discipline in all aspects of life. Even in a packed elevator, he still thinks of what to do in case it gets stuck. This doesn’t mean you should worry always, but it is best to be ready for anything.

Lesson 2: Taking criticism well is a requirement to become a space explorer, and learning this skill will help you too.

When I was younger I had leaders who taught me that successful people not only welcome correction, they seek it. This seems like a difficult thing to do, but it’s got a lot of benefits. 

If you work for NASA, for example, you’re receiving criticism constantly. You have to if you want to practice various scenarios until you get them perfect. 

To catch any mistakes, dozens of people observe simulations. Astronauts’ safety depends on how many errors they fix while just practicing

This is similar to striving for excellence In your own life. If you want to become truly exceptional, you’ve got to try so you learn how not to do whatever you’re working toward. That means you have to welcome any feedback, including negative, if you want to improve.

Taking correction well is especially vital if you’re on a team like astronauts are. When serious problems arise the group only has each other to rely on. And if you can’t roll with the punches of criticism fro your teammates, it will be hard to work together in life or death scenarios.

You don’t have to be on a team going to space to use this principle though. It’s important to be receptive to suggestions in your family and your team at work no matter what you do for a living.

Lesson 3: Getting back from outer space is hard for astronauts, but the journey changes their perspective.

If you think the trip to space is hard, wait until you hear about the way back. The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is the only way to and from the International Space Station. And the hour-long landings are notably turbulent. 

In one 2008 landing Yuri Malenchenko remembers the parachute that was supposed to slow the craft catching on fire and burning to ashes. While everyone survived, their final touch down was far from where they were supposed to be. 

It’s also hard to adjust to normal life after getting home from a space mission. In zero gravity, your body’s muscles deteriorate. But when you return, the weight of being on earth is difficult to manage. 

Even sitting down isn’t comfortable because your body isn’t used to carrying its own weight. 

Although it might sound dull to come back to Earth after being in the magnificence of outer space, Hadfield says it’s a life-changing experience. 

He is energized by being on the ground after a mission. The refreshing new view of the world he has is exciting. The lesson here is to not fear new and possibly difficult experiences because they can significantly improve your outlook on life.

An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth Review

What an awesome and exciting book! An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth is just my kind of book because I love space and I also love analogies about how to live a better life. However, this book is an excellent read regardless of what you think of astronaut life.

Who would I recommend the An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth summary to?

The 22-year-old who is considering being an astronaut but wants to figure out the pros and cons of it, the 55-year-old who is curious about what it’s like to go to outer space and return, and anyone with a curious mind that also wants to live a good life.

Last Updated on September 7, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.