Book Recommendation: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK”
Warning: Lots of Cursing Ahead, And No Fucks Given. Enjoy. Or Don’t.
I have finally finished reading Mark Manson’s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck.” First and foremost: I loved this book. It’s incredible. I’m always a big fan of self-help books that are a) based on empiricism (i.e., has research to back up various claims) and, in the case of this book, b) relevant. There are a billion self-help books out there promising to help you achieve your goals, be one with the universe, and find true happiness.
But what happens when you achieve your goals and still feel like a sack of shit (e.g., “Once I buy this car, then I’ll be happy/feel satisfied/people will like me”)? What happens if you dedicate yourself to the universe then realize the reality that the actual universe (i.e., the measurable universe, not the internal, spiritual dimensional universe) doesn’t give a fuck about you (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, or a black hole opens up next to you and you are ripped apart from every possible direction)? And should we always be in the pursuit of happiness? How about the fact that some of the greatest scientific achievements, works of art, movements, and general positive life-changing moments, have taken place when people are incredibly stressed and unhappy, in pain, and even dying?
Secondly, it’s important to note (and Manson does) this isn’t a book about never giving a fuck, i.e., being a sociopathic asshole. It’s about the fact that many of us spend too much time giving fucks about things we shouldn’t and don’t want to give our fucks about, while not giving fucks about things we really actually do want to give fucks about. For example, I spent a lot of time in my early goings giving too many fucks that people would never read this blog, or read it and take a shit on it, instead of spending more fucks on realizing how much I love to write and share information that I’ve learned. I’d rather use my spare fucks on writing quality material and not on worrying what others might say (or not say/not read).
Manson’s book addresses many of the aforementioned questions and more from a very zen-like/stoic/absurdist mindset that makes his subtitle, “A counterintuitive approach to living a good life” incredibly accurate. For instance, here’s a fantastic, counterintuitive quote:
“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
As Manson astutely points out, “the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.” For example, Manson points out that the more you look for “honest confrontation” in your relationships, the deeper and more meaningful the relationship can be come. Or his example of going to the gym, dealing with the struggle and pain of working out (the negative) leading to better health, feeling strong, and having more endurance (the positive).
So how does not giving a fuck play a role in actual scenarios? Well, for instance, instead of giving too many fucks about “keeping the peace” and making the other person in a relationship “happy,” and never have an argument, perhaps we should be giving fucks about pursuing a deeper relationship where we can share how we honestly feel in order to have a real connection to the other person, and have some self-respect for fuck’s sake.
There are so many sharp, funny, and amazingly insightful portions of this book that I could mention here, but go read his fucking book, and check out his fucking website at markmanson.net (I could talk forever about the value of stress, anxiety, pain, and suffering that not many others are willing to do, but Manson does in his book. I will write a future post on this).
“There is a subtle art of not giving a fuck. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an asshole, what I am talking about here is essentially learning how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values. This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the ONLY struggle in one’s life.”
***Side note: This is book two of my New Year’s Resolution to read 100 books. Suffice it to say I am a bit off, but am currently picking up the pace!***