The Anatomy Of Peace Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Anatomy Of Peace will help you make your life and the world more calm by explaining the inefficiencies in our go-to pattern of using conflict to resolve differences and giving specific tips for how to use understanding to settle issues.

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Do you remember the last conflict you were part of? Perhaps it was a difficult spouse, struggling teenager, or an annoying neighbor. It takes two people to sustain a fight. That means you are at least a little to blame for the quarrels in your life. But what parts of the disagreement are you responsible for? And better yet, how can you end the conflict peacefully?

These are just a few of the lessons you’ll learn in Arbinger Institute‘s The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. After reading this, you’ll have fewer fights in no time.

Here are the 3 greatest lessons this book teaches about getting more peace:

  1. Learn to recognize when your heart is in a state of peace or war toward others and choose the higher path.
  2. You can’t change people, but you can invite them to improve by modifying the environment. 
  3. We like to justify our bad behavior by thinking we’re in certain boxes, but we can learn to fight this harmful tendency.

Are you ready to find out how to make world peace a reality, at least in your world? Let’s take a closer look!

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Lesson 1: Choose the higher path of peace by learning to understand when your heart is leaning toward conflict.

Pretend for a moment that your parents taught you to always hate left-handed people due to a bunch of them attacking your family’s right-handed ancestors. You notice, one day, that a left-handed person falls in the street, dropping what he was carrying. Do you help him or leave him there?

You’ve got two choices: you can decide to have a heart of peace or a heart of war. When you see through the lens of a heart of war, the man is not a person but an object. To you, he is inferior. This type of thinking paves the way for conflict. 

The heart of peace, in contrast, embraces our natural desire to be compassionate. It helps us see others as humans, regardless of their social status in relation to us. This view helps us listen to them and see how they’re like us. 

You can even have a peaceful heart in times of war. When the Crusaders massacred the people of Jerusalem in the 12th century, sultan Saladin chose this higher path. 

After a while his people retook the city, but he didn’t let his people kill the innocent like the Christians had. Instead, Saladin banned harming them. He gave the Christians safe passage, keeping the city open to pilgrims. 

You can choose this better way of peace also. Let go of past grudges and listen to the voice inside of you encouraging compassion and understanding. Those that make you angry are human beings, just like you.  

Lesson 2: Changing the environment to invite other people to change is more effective than thinking that you can force them to change.

Nearly a year ago I lost my job. The manager that let me go didn’t even bother to take the time to listen to me. Even if he had, I know from coworkers experiences that he was not the kind to care. It wasn’t a healthy work environment because I felt like more of an object than a person with feelings.

This is what happens when you try to change a person without first attempting to understand them. And it’s often a huge source of conflict, both seen and not. 

Take the household chores, for example. If you’ve got a spouse that doesn’t do their fair share, you want to say something, right? This might make things worse though, because they’ll take it as criticism. What you need to do instead is look for the reasons behind their actions and listen. Maybe they’re stressed at work or dealing with a more troubling problem.

Even in cases with a more serious issue, like drug or alcohol addiction, trying to change the other person won’t work. It’s not about who’s right or wrong but more about working to discover what they need. A key component to this is compassion, which you can show by listening.

Lesson 3: Learn to resist the destructive urge to justify your bad behavior by putting yourself into a box.

We are remarkably good at deceiving ourselves. Think about a time when you tried to justify actions that were clearly wrong and you’ll see this is true. One way we do this is by putting ourselves into a few different kinds of boxes:

  • Better-than
  • Victim
  • I-Deserve

Let’s start with the Better-than Box. We’re more likely to think treading others horribly is okay if we believe they are less than us. It might be that they’re not as worthy, respectable, or important. 

The Victim Box, in contrast, is the opposite. When we put ourselves into this category we think the world is unfair and everyone is out to get us. We think that every wrong that others commit against us is with malicious intent. 

Then we’ve got the I-Deserve Box, which is when we succumb to the sickness of entitlement. This is when our outlook is that the world has cheated us out of what we think we should be getting. 

All three of these boxes make us treat others terribly. They also breed conflict because they blind us to anything but our own views. But combating this is as simple as looking at the world from the perspective of others. 

Imagine you’re in a job that makes you want to treat the customers poorly. Would you want to shop at a store with rude employees? Of course not! So why would you think it’s okay to be that way to other people?

The amount of harmony around you depends on your heart and mind. If you choose the ways of compassion and understanding then your life is sure to be full of peace.

The Anatomy Of Peace Review

What a powerful message! The Anatomy Of Peace is a book that we all need to read in this day of heightened conflict. Although some of the lessons are hard to swallow, applying them will make your world a much more peaceful place.

Who would I recommend The Anatomy Of Peace summary to?

The 53-year-old politician who thinks members of the opposing political party are terrible people, the 22-year-old who can’t stop getting into fights on the internet, and everyone who wants world peace.

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

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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.