Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck

Title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Author: Mark Manson
Genre: Non Fiction, Self Help, Personal Development

What’s it About: The premise of the book is that you cannot care about everything (or give a f*ck about everything as it so neatly states) in life, and avoid pain. Rather, you have to choose what “thing” you care about in any given moment in life, and the best way to do that is by re-examining your values. By doing that, it leads you to a life that is befitting of yourself.

Have you ever had a moment in life where when you stopped caring about something, that is when things started to fall into place? When you tried to be yourself, or tried to be anything other than you are, and it all suddenly clicked? That’s because you stopped fixating on those things and started living in abundance. According to the book, even the things that are positive and happy self-help stuff or those things that you dream about, it’s still actually fixating on what you lack, but just in a different frame of mind, and it is reinforcing that idea that you are not who or what you say. When you stop saying it, and start doing it, that’s when you really become it. You don’t say you’re happy by looking into the mirror and affirming it–You just are.

In fact, caring too much about too many things actually is bad for your mental health, because it forces you to chase a superficial “high” or “feel good” moment without actually doing anything to solve the underlying problems. The thing is that being happy is a process–you can’t escape the pain you feel or the anguish you experience, because that’s a biological response to outside stimuli, and it’s a way to teach you. So if you accept those feelings, and work on the problem, ultimately solve it, you will be happier as a result. It’s a paradox–the more we seek those happy experience, it results in a negative experience for ourselves; the more we accept the negative experiences, the happier we become. Hence it’s called the “backwards law.”

Giving a f*ck really boils down to this: It doesn’t mean being indifferent, but being comfortable with being different, and always choosing to be specific with what to give a darn about to the point that it may be more important than any adversity in your way.

You already make choices anyway, so this should not feel or look different.

Another big premise of the book is that you are not special–you don’t have unique problems. Many hundreds of people have had the same problems, and so giving out awards and accolades for the tiniest things is not actually good for people. It’s okay to mediocre–the news networks and social media have been making it sound like people are leading amazing lives, or you have to be amazingly outstanding to be worth something. But you have to choose your legacy–what will it be? What will you leave behind?

And you can lead a very fulfilling life by having good values that encompass the following:

  1. Being a little less certain of yourself and your knowledge–after all, if we think we know anything, we don’t develop and learn and progress.

2.Take ownership of your actions and reactions–no matter the situation. Fail if you need to but get back up.

3. Say no to things that don’t benefit, and also don’t sit there–Do SOMETHING.

4. Accept that you will die someday.

My Verdict: I really enjoyed this book, as I feel like it builds upon principles in the Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willinks book–but in a non-military way. One thing that I found myself nodding my head to a lot was the point about the trophies and awards that everyone gets, even when they fail, in order to build up their self-esteem and how it actually damages them in the long run by making it more difficult for them to deal with rejection and failure. I’ve seen this happen in real life over and over and over again. Another thing that I really enjoy was the acceptance of death–I feel that since I’ve grown up around death in the sense that it wasn’t hidden from me, it’s a bit of a different thing, but even then I feel fear around death because there is so much that I wish to accomplish. The premise that accepting that your life has an end and it’s something you should think about almost sounds radical, but when you think about it, it wants you to think about that in the sense of “what is your legacy? What are you leaving behind for your family and your loved ones? Are they going to remember you for the the fun, super-involved parent, who everyone learned from, or the surly aunt who had nothing good to say about anyone who everyone avoided?

If you’re one of those people who is still in the stages where you really care about what other people say or think about you, and that dictates how you live your life, then this book is not yet for you. However, if you are the type of person who is moving away from that kind of place and are getting tired/burdened by how much your energy is spent both emotionally and mentally by all these seemingly mundane things that just get you worked up for no reason, and you’re ready to leave that behind–then yes, this book is for you.

Overall, it’s a good read and I would recommend to someone who is looking for personal development books that help change their mindset incrementally.

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