Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Don’t give a f*ck. Happiness is a problem. You are not special. You don’t know anything. Our pain makes us stronger.

These are some of the basic premises on which Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life is based.

The name sounds sketchy, I know, but the book is truly brilliant.

It’s all about finding happiness an unconventional way; to care less, accept failure, say no. To shed those illusions that consume us – rich people are living the life; I’d be happier if I was skinnier; partying every weekend makes me feel less alone. To stop chasing goals that won’t satisfy. To embrace pain and struggle.

In this book review, I will share some of the key things The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck taught me.

The Key to A Good Life

The book taught me to stop caring about things that, essentially, don’t matter. More money, more makeup, more shoes, more parties. Seriously, what does it matter in the long run?

“The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.”

Yes. A good life is not about caring about more things; it’s about caring less, and caring about the few things that truly matter.

In terms of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, the things that truly matter are, for instance, our values. Because, when you think about it, it’s your true, authentic values that give your life lasting meaning.

Instead of setting goals, set values. Humility, innovation, integrity, love, peace…

In illustration, let’s say your value is to be creative, as opposed to your goal being to write a single short story. While writing that short story will eventually be accomplished, being creative is an ongoing thing that you have to keep working on.

Once you finish one creative project, then it’s on to the next project. And so on.

Get it? It’s the value that keeps you going; not the goal. Don’t give a f*ck about goals, ‘kay?

The Do Something Principle

“Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, it’s the cause of it.”

Essentially, Manson talks about the “do something” principle as a life lesson he learned from a high school teacher. That teacher would tell the students:

“If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.”

Take a moment to absorb that. So true, right?

Mark goes on to talk about how he’s used this “do something” idea to help him get things done, especially when starting his own business.

He argues that doing something (action) will eventually inspire you and then you’ll feel motivated. And, once you feel motivated, you’ll be able to do something more.

It’s a loop:

It goes on and on – action, inspiration, motivation, action, inspiration, motivation, etc. – the never-ending loop.

“If we follow the ‘do something’ principle, failure feels unimportant. When the standard of success becomes merely acting – when any result is regarded as progress and important, when inspiration is seen as the reward rather than a prerequisite – we propel ourselves ahead.”

By equating acting with success, you grant yourself the capability to move forward even if you only take one tiny step. Action, inspiration, motivation, action-

See? You’re successful already.

Pain is Part of The Process

Life is a process, filled with highs and lows. We all know that; it’s unavoidable. So, instead of fighting those lows, we have to embrace them.

It’s in embracing those lows – suffering, anxiety, disappointment, sadness, loss – that we unlock a simpler, happier life.

“Dabrowshi argued that fear and sadness are not necessarily always undesirable or unhelpful states of mind; rather, they are often representative of the necessary pain of psychological growth. And to deny that pain is to deny our own potential.

Just as one must suffer physical pain to build stronger bone and muscle, one must suffer emotional pain to develop greater emotional resilience, a stronger sense of self, increased compassion, and a generally happier life.”

You know how they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

Well, it does.

It makes you tough enough to keep on keeping on, and to deal with the challenges that are coming (and, as you know, they’ll never stop coming). You learn more about who you are and what you stand for. It gives you the capacity to support others through their lows.

It’s all part of the process. And if it’s part of the process, if it makes you a better, happier person, then it must be that pain really does lead to a better life.

I challenge you to stop giving a f*ck about everything. And start giving a f*ck about only what is “true and immediate and important”.

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