I Can’t Make This Up by Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart is hilarious and wildly successful. This is his inspiring story that reaffirms the importance of perseverance and learning how to find the meaning and motivation in adversity.
Buy this book on Amazon (Highly recommend)
Access My Searchable Collection of 100+ Book Notes
Tell the empowering story
“You can’t control the events that happen to you, but you can control your interpretation of them. So why not choose the story that serves your life the best?”
Life is perception. No matter what happens to you, you have the power to choose your response. And that response starts with the story you tell yourself about the events going on in your life. Is your story one of the world trying to get you, or is it one learning from your life experiences to conquer your obstacles and achieve your goals? It’s up to you to decide.
Choose to go right
“At every moment in life, there is a fork in the path you are on. And you can choose to go right or you can choose to go left. Every right you take leads you closer to your best possible destiny; every left leads you further away from it. These forks are not just decisions that lead to actions, like saying yes to a job offer, but thoughts that lead to beliefs, like blaming your father for ruining your life.”
Like Hart, I’ve always tried to go right, something I discuss in detail in How to Make Hard Decisions. And while I’ve made a lot of lefts along the way, that’s okay. Because sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we choose what’s expedient over what’s meaningful, and sometimes we have no idea what we’re doing. The goal is not to eliminate the lefts. It’s to learn from the lefts so that you can make more rights and live with more joy, gratitude, and achievement.
Stand up for yourself
“I would have thought that a fight would escalate things. But the fact that it stopped the bullying taught me a lesson: Defend yourself at all times. Don’t let nobody mess with you. If you don’t stand up to them, they’ll just keep bullying you, and it will get continually worse as they push to the edge of what they can get away with. However, if you stand up to them, and they feel fear after knowing what you’re capable of, they’ll find someone else to belittle.”
Kevin is talking about physical confrontations, but the same principle applies to non-physical situations. Whether it’s in school, at a social event, or at work, stand up for yourself. If someone violates your values or does something that is not okay, let them know. Don’t berate them. Be tactful and compassionate with your words, but make sure that you communicate why what they have done is not okay. This is rarely easy, but it will serve you better in the long run.
Everyone has problems
“It’s easy to complain about your life—how tough it is, how unfair it is, how stressful it is, how everyone else has it much better. But if you step into the life of someone you envy for just a day, you’ll discover that everyone has their own problems, and they’re usually worse than yours. Because your problems are designed specifically for you, with the specific purpose of helping you grow.”
We all have shit going on, and once you realize that it’s not just you, you can better understand and accept this inherent part of the human experience. You can take your problems, accept them, start finding solutions, and continuing learning and growing.
Respond with gratitude, not resentment
“I didn’t flip all the way from resentment to appreciation, but I began that slow process. And logically, no other response to the ups and downs of life makes sense besides gratitude. You are already in your experience. So you can either resent and resist it, and make it that much less enjoyable, or you can accept it and find something positive in it.”
When life goes wrong, gratitude and appreciation will help carry you through. You might be grateful for having a terrible experience to learn from, or you might start with being grateful for having a warm cup of coffee to drink or fresh air to breath. Developing an attitude of gratitude will help you more easily navigate life.
There’s always tomorrow
“Can you fail and still be strong? Can you not fit in and still accept yourself? Can you lose everything and still keep searching? Can you be in the dark and still believe in the light? Because no matter how low you go and how lost you feel, there is always tomorrow. And tomorrow just may be the day when you get lifted up and find your way.”
Keep on going and working hard. Tomorrow might just be your day.
Don’t wait for certainty
“When it comes to the future, it’s impossible to have any certainty. I may appear to be certain, because I’ve learned to have confidence in my abilities and faith in my will to succeed. But what I don’t know—and what no human being knows—is how we will fulfill our destiny as individuals and what that destiny will be. If you wait for certainty, you will spend your whole life standing still. And if you grow discouraged and give up when things get rough, you’ll miss out on your best possible destiny. So the secret is to be excited about what is in your power to control, be accepting of what’s not in your power to control, and then move with certainty into an uncertain future.”
Don’t wait for a clear path forward to act. Get started and learn to navigate the windy road of life. If you wait for certainty, you’ll be paralyzed by inaction and never fulfill your destiny.
Losing your mom
“I’d never lost a loved one before, but I noticed that I processed it differently than everyone else in my family. I knew that my mom had wanted to stop suffering, and her wish had been granted. It was only us, those left behind, who were still suffering. And we had just two choices: to stop living or to go on living.”
“When you mourn, when you hurt, when someone you love—or everyone you love—passes, it may feel like a void has opened up in your universe. But in the universe, energy can never be destroyed. So if the pain and the absence existed only in my mind, then it wasn’t real. It was imaginary, and me being hurt or angry about it wasn’t going to change anything. There was nothing I could do except let go of a tragic story and embrace one that served me—and her—better. So I did. I chose not to lose my mom, and instead to gain an angel. In my mind, my heart, and my life, she is still completely present to this day—and as wise, compassionate, and stubborn as ever.”
I cried reading Kevin’s story about his mom’s passing. After losing my mom to suicide, I had a similar feeling. I knew she was suffering, and now that suffering was over. And while losing her was a soul-penetrating blow, I knew that I had to find a way to go on living. That’s what she would have wanted. I also knew that her authenticity, belief, and compassion were still with me. Those qualities would endure and carry me forward.
How to handle rejection and failure
“How you handle rejection is very similar to how you’ll handle success. If you’re strong enough to handle rejection without taking it personally, without holding a grudge, and without losing your passion and drive, then you’ll be strong enough to reap the rewards. But if you’re too weak to handle failure and disappointment, then you’re too weak to handle success, which will only end up damaging your life and happiness.”
How do you handle rejection or failure? Do you blame the world for not going your way, or do you accept your reality and find a way to keep going? If it’s the latter, you’re well-positioned to enjoy the success you’ll eventually find.
If you want more book summaries like this...
- Find more great book recommendations. Discover lists with hundreds of the best books.
- Check out Foundations. Foundations is a searchable digital notebook built for curious, lifelong learners. It will help you accelerate your learning, solve hard problems, and save time by giving you access to a growing digital collection of insights from timeless books.
You might also enjoy these books...
- The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin: Summary & Notes
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
- How to Win Friends and Influence People Book Summary
- Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis
- Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
- Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Taleb
- Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke