[BOOK REVIEW] The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

by Mark Manson

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I enjoy sharing books I’ve read that have a good message, either a new message to learn or a message reinforcing things already known.  I read this one on a recent airplane ride, and it has some good (and timely) reminders.

First let me say, if curse words offend you, skip this book, because – as the title suggests – it has a lot of f-bombs, every time it talks about when you should and when you should not give a f*ck.  The cover ***s the word out – the inside does not.  If it doesn’t bother you, or you can move past it for some straightforward and honest talk, then crack this one open.  (We can talk about the marketing strategy behind the headline later!)

The basis of the book is centered around being true to yourself, and being true to what’s real around you rather than focusing on how you wish the world was instead (or looking at it through rose colored glasses, or not at all). Not caring what other people think or expect – because you can’t control that.

The book also discussed how problems always occur in life, no matter what you do, and true happiness is an activity that comes from solving problems – not from avoiding problems or pretending like you don’t have any. Because you always need to solve problems, you need to choose your struggle.  There will always be a struggle, and there is always pain in life, so you have to carefully choose what pain you want.  For example, if you don’t want the pain of being out of shape or overweight, then you need to accept the pain of working out.

It also talks, repeatedly, about taking responsibility for your own life – because even if someone does something to you, you always still have the choice (and responsibility of choosing) how you respond.  I think this concept is something we all need to remind ourselves regularly.

Good, healthy values are internal – creativity, humility, immediately controllable, engaging you with the world how it is rather than how you wish it was. Bad, unhealthy values are reliant upon external events – violence, being the center of attention, being rich for the sake of being rich.  You cannot control external events, such as whether or not you’re popular, so the things you need to give a f*ck about should be those internal values.

A few of the terms Manson used that I particularly liked, and that seem highly appropriate for these times, which I may adopt:

“victimhood chic” – when people pass off the responsibility for solving their problems to others, or lay blame on others, which is the same thing.  We mistakenly have started to believe that responsibility only lies with fault, but you have personal responsibility even when you do not have fault. For example, if you’re in a wreck and it’s obviously the other person’s fault, you still have responsibility.  Choosing how you respond (I’m angry, I’m upset, I’m happy, I’m concerned, I’m retaliating) is your responsibility.  You may be on calling the insurance companies, taking your vehicle in for repairs (even when they’re being paid by someone else), or taking yourself to the doctor if you’re injured.  These are your responsibilities, even if you do not have fault.

Manson says this may be the first time in human history that every demographic group has felt unfairly victimized at the same time and expressing the moral indignation that comes along with the feeling. Anyone is offended about anything – feeling they’re being oppressed in some way and that they deserve to be outraged and get a certain amount of attention for it.

“outrage porn” – how current media environment encourages and perpetuates these reactions because it’s good business. They find it easy and profitable to take something that is mildly offensive, broadcast it to an audience, generate outrage, and then broadcast the outrage back to a wider population in a way that outrages more people. This triggers the kind of echo bullsh*t pinging back and forth between imaginary sides – meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems (and we have PLENTY of those, people!). People get addicted to being offended.

“do or do not, there is no how” (in his Yoda voice) – you are already choosing, in every moment of every day, what to give a f*ck about, so change is as simple as choosing to give a f*ck about something else.

Plus the “do something” principle – that says don’t just sit there, do something and the answers will follow.  If you don’t know where to start, then start anywhere.  Remember, happiness comes from activity, so performing an activity will help generate the answers you need that will help you know what to do.

Manson obviously expands much further on the concepts above, so you will want to give it a read.

Pick this book up on Amazon:

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