The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
author: Mark Manson

general overview

Manson calls his work “a counter-intuitive approach” – and he is absolutely right. before reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, i had no idea i needed to hear some of these valuable life lessons. i thoroughly enjoyed this read and felt like i came out of it with some true nuggets of wisdom, like this one:

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice — well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

i love that Manson points out that many self-help books and topics are designed to have the reader fixate on their flaws, what’s wrong with them, focus on achieving goals, and so on.
this includes many of the things you probably obsess about internally, as well:

i’m overweight. so i should eat less, exercise more, and lose weight.
that one person at work doesn’t seem to like me. so i should really try to figure out how to help that relationship.
my career isn’t going the way i expected at my age. so i should bust my butt to get a promotion.

Manson challenges this and instead suggests that we all should simply be wiser about what we choose to worry about. i highly recommend reading this book and soaking up all the wisdom Manson has to share.

“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.”

summary notes

life lessons on values

Manson suggests many helpful life lessons i’ve been implementing in my own daily self-talk, and here are just four of my favorites:

  • keep the values you can control.
  • let go of the values you can’t control.
  • don’t ruin your life by attempting to leave a grand legacy.
  • values are just a metric by which we measure ourselves.

figuring out the values that steer your life requires thinking about your priorities. what are the values you prioritize above others?

positive values might include striving to cultivate wisdom, humility, and charity. but these can also tip into negative territory, becoming a lack of self-awareness, cockiness, or greed.
nevertheless, the more positive your values are, the positive your problems are, and then the happier you might be.

here’s an example:

Student A is in college and they have become overly competitive with classmates, seeking to receive the best grades, the best scholarship, and get constant praise from the professor.

Student B is more focused on building relationships with classmates who later may be professional peers and people to network with; they want to get good grades, but they’re more focused on truly learning and retaining the knowledge set in front of them. what kind of problems do you think Student A will face? what about Student B? their paths are extremely different because of the positive and negative values each one of them prioritizes.

“Travel is a fantastic self-development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves. This exposure to different cultural values and metrics then forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and to consider that perhaps it’s not necessarily the best way to live.”

let’s embrace uncomfortability

ready to embrace uncomfortability with me? this point really blew my mind. Manson explains it simply:

“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.”

let’s unpack this. when you scroll through Instagram, comparing your life to people you think are happier than you, stop and think. those people have carefully planned, design, curated, and fussed over filters and adjusting contrast for at least 32 minutes (yes, i’ve counted.)

fuck that.

lusting over more positive experiences in your life, whether it’s the perfect first date with someone you swiped right on or wanting to look as good on a 4-mile hike as that one person you follow on Instagram always does only welcomes negativity into your life.

it sounds cheesy, but accepting yourself and your flaws will actually make you happier. you’re only human and a beautiful one at that. everyone has bad dates. the weather sometimes sucks. pain is inevitable in life. be okay with feeling sad. look objectively at your shortcomings and insecurities, then build on them. get stronger and learn from your challenges. move on and focus on something that really matters!

want a better body? want to finally find your spouse? want to complete a half marathon? want a more promising career path? want to fix that now-awkward friendship? whip up that healthy dinner recipe, re-download that dating app, lace up those tennis shoes, finish your degree or take a new class, start that conversation and share your feelings.

people who are driven by the challenge the gym brings are also those who are fit. people who go the extra mile to advance their career often see those promotions and new paths arise. people who have those less-than-comfortable talks with friends, see their relationships heal and thrive.

embrace the uncomfortability of improving your life. it’s easier said than done, but i know you can do it and i doubt you’ll regret it.