52 pages 1 hour read

Brianna Wiest

101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think

Nonfiction | Essay Collection | Adult | Published in 2016

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Summary and Study Guide


101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think is a book of short essays by Brianna Wiest, published in 2016. It is in the genre of self-help and personal development, touching on topics related to philosophy and mindfulness.

Brianna Wiest is an American writer who graduated in professional writing from Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania, in 2013. She began her professional writing career by posting essays in the digital magazines Thought Catalog and Huffington Post. The book contains many of these essays. The focus of her writing is on wellness and self-help, aiming to inspire people to improve their lives. While compiled of 101 separate short essays, the book has overarching themes that relate to emotional awareness, successful relationships, and efforts to change oneself.

This guide refers to the Kindle edition published in 2017 by Thought Catalog Books. Citations are for page numbers in this edition.


The book 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think is a collection of short online essays collated into printed form. These essays share a general theme and genre but are not grouped or themed in clusters; they are stand-alone pieces. The collection is unified by an Introduction that sets out Wiest’s general approach: that self-knowledge and self-compassion are important for well-being and that each person has the ability to obtain these through their own mental processes.

Although the essays are varied, in aggregate they address a number of broader topics. Wiest consistently argues that people only allow themselves to feel a certain level of happiness because of fear. Many negative feelings result from people’s fear of discomfort. She also asserts throughout that daily practice leads to happiness, through a daily commitment to reaching gratitude and satisfaction with what one has. Wiest discusses the idea that chasing life narratives or expectations will not lead to happiness. Chasing a certain narrative about one’s life plays into futures that are impossible to predict. It is futile, she argues, for someone to decide what they want once and chase it forever. What a person wants is constantly changing. She urges the reader to consider the question “What do I want?” every day.

Throughout, Wiest’s essays explore psychological ideas like attachment styles and happiness thresholds alongside philosophical ideas that ask the purpose and meaning of one’s life. She explores relationships, emotions, self-improvement, the limits and opportunities of the modern world, creativity, and mindfulness, offering advice and reflection prompts.