*This post has adult language. And this is your warning if, for whatever reason, that offends you.*
I have chosen The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson to be the first book of the Knackered Book Club.
Why, you may ask, did I choose this book? Well, I had heard of Mark Manson before. So when I saw this book on Amazon, and saw the engaging title, I thought I’d give it a try. After I had gotten through the first chapter, I figured it was a perfect place to start the book club blog series. As for a Self-Help/Motivating book, this is not one that will coddle you, if that’s what you’re used to. This is one that will smack you in the face telling you exactly what you’re doing wrong and tell you exactly how simple it is to fix it.
Below I have summarized the chapters, but let me reassure you that there is no way you can understand the brevity of this book by reading this post. I would highly advise on picking this up on Amazon here and reading it for yourself. You don’t need to abide by every single rule Mark suggests if you don’t agree with him, but you should use this book as a way to open up your world and views on life. It forces you to truly think about your values and if you’re really doing what’s best for you. It’s changed my thinking about my own life and future in a lot of ways and has forced to me to reevaluate many of my values. Read below to understand why.
Chapter 1: Don’t Try
The book begins with a chapter called “Don’t Try.” It can be summarized by the quote that Mark writes in the book by Albert Camus: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
And this quote resonated with me. As a young 25 year old, I feel that part of my every day existence is to be in the search of the meaning of life.
There is no meaning to life. And people spend their entire lives searching for something they will never really get the answer to. There is just existence. But what’s important is that you get to decide on what you do with that existence. You get to choose.
Chapter 2: Happiness is a Problem
This was one of the most profound chapters in the book, in my opinion. Mark states that “Problems are a constant in life.” As soon as you solve one problem, more problems arise. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do, life will never be perfect. The trick is to find the problems that truly matter. For instance, Mark writes, “…the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.”
The people who can’t cope do this in two ways: either by denial that no issues even exist in the first place, or by playing the victim. They believe that the world is at fault for their problems and whine and complain about it.
His point is that we need to become aware that no matter what, we will have problems. But the only way to achieve true happiness is to choose the problems we are willing to fight for and accept them for what they are.
Chapter 3: You Are Not Special
I loved this chapter. Because it was about entitlement. And I wish everyone on this earth would read this chapter this instant. It is an epidemic in society these days. And it needs to be addressed.
No one is special. More than likely someone else on this earth has lived your problems before. As Mark writes, “…you and your problems are actually not privileged in their severity or pain.” And it is so true. Everyone these days are trying to play victim to every minor injustice they see.
“The easier and more problem-free our lives become, the more we seem to feel entitled for them to get even better.”
How many times have I fallen victim to narcissism and thought that my issues were so incredibly important? Countless times. I would let something so small ruin my day, or govern my life. I get worked up over things I can’t control and a future that hasn’t even come yet, and for what? Because I am acting entitled to my own issues in my own life.
“The ticket to emotional health, like that to physical health, comes from eating your veggies – that is, accepting the bland and mundane truths of life: truths such as ‘Your actions actually don’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things’ and ‘The vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that’s okay.'”
Chapter 4: The Value of Suffering
This chapter is about understanding that we will suffer. Life is full of suffering. But just like you need to choose your problems, you also need to choose how you suffer. You need to understand what values are the truly important ones, and which ones are worth it. Mark defines the four shitty values as Pleasure, Material Success, Always Being Right, and Staying Positive.
I could write a whole lengthy post about this chapter itself, and maybe one day I will. For now, the point is that we need to learn what the good values are versus the bad. And make sure that every day we’re not spending our time giving our fucks about the bad. Because that brings the opposite of happiness. It brings misery.
This one was hard to swallow as I know I am very guilty of this. And it came at the most important time of my life. Now I won’t get too into my personal life, just yet. But right now I have been so wrapped up trying to understand and plan every bit of my immediate future and thinking about money and material items so much that I needed to take a step back and realize that that literally means nothing. Life isn’t about how much money you make or how many items you can fit in your closet. For me, it’s about waking up every day doing something I love with the people I love and finding passion in all that I do. I value love, I like makeup. There’s a big difference. This one struck me hard.
Chapter 5: You Are Always Choosing
Mark introduces the term, Victimhood Chic, which essentially means that playing the victim in society has become the most popular way to gain attention or feel good about ourselves. So now we’re always complaining. Starbucks decorating their cups in a way I can’t get on board with? Nope – I’m telling Facebook. That book is allowed in the school library?? But it’s against my beliefs. No, my kid cannot read that! Ban it!
“The writer and commentator Ryan Holiday refers to this as ‘outrage porn:’ rather than report on real stories and real issues, the media finds it much easier (and more profitable) to find something mildly offensive, broadcast it to a wide audience, generate outrage, and then broadcast that outrage back across the population in a way that outrages yet another part of the population. This triggers a kind of echo of bullshit pinging back and forth between two imaginary sides, meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems. It’s no wonder we’re more politically polarized than ever before.”
People are actually getting addicted to being offended all of the time. “But part of living in a democracy and a free society is that we all have to deal with views and people we don’t necessarily like. That’s simply the price we pay – you could even say it’s the whole point of the system.”
Chapter 6: You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)
Chapter 6 teaches us to question yourself and your decisions. Just because you feel something may not necessarily mean you are right in that emotion. I feel that this is most important in relationships. And quite honestly, I believe we’re all guilty of doing this. We let other people determine how we feel, and then consequently blame them for it. But what if we are wrong? What if we begin to question ourselves?
The moment you begin to question your feelings and emotions is the moment you learn about yourself. Why are you mad at your parents? Why did it bother me that my girlfriend texted a male friend of mine? As soon as you learn the answers to those questions you can begin to understand if they’re valid or not. And then you have two choices. Do you continue on your path of anger or resentment? Or do you choose to change your path, work on yourself, and stop projecting your problems onto other people?
Chapter 7: Failure Is the Way Forward
This lesson is a constant principle in our lives. Ever heard of the quote, “The only way to go is up?” once you’ve failed more times than you can count?
Mark gives an example about how he started his blog. He had just graduated, had no money, no prospects. And he decided to start his own company. He was already at a very low point, living on friend’s couches, and borrowing money from family. What was the difference between trying to begin a business now versus doing it in 5 years?
And I can apply this same principle to my life and it’s something I have struggled with for a long time. There is too much pressure on being “successful” right away and “making a decent living” that people are forgetting that what is more important is that you’re happy. Do you really want to wake up every day and go to a job you can’t stand because you get paid well? If you haven’t experienced that yet, I’ll tell you right now, it is not fulfilling. And quite honestly, it’s an idiotic principle. Just scroll up. I don’t value money more than I value enjoying my life and my passions, like this blog. And life really is way too short to waste your time doing something you hate, or not being with the ones you love. What really matters here?
Chapter 8: The Importance of Saying No
Rejections and boundaries. This was, more or less, the relationship chapter. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions, your emotions, and your problems. It’s about trust, and rebuilding trust lost. And also about commitment.
Mark really opened up about this life in this chapter. As a reader, you learn that he used to be a bit of luster of sex anywhere and everywhere. At this point he has settled down in one place, with one profession, and with his wife. This chapter was about Mark’s emotional growth.
I hadn’t really pulled anything personal from this one as I feel that I am actually quite healthy in this area. Communication is my strong suit and I am very willing to admit when I do something wrong and focus on correcting the issue in every relationship I have. But it was very interesting to hear Mark’s stories and his version of how he overcame a lot of the struggles in his life.
Chapter 9: …And Then You Die
The book wraps up with some really deep insight that puts every point made thus far into perspective.
“Therefore, we should not avoid this realization [death], but rather come to terms with it as best we can. Because once we become comfortable with the fact of our own death – the root terror, the underlying anxiety motivating all of life’s frivolous ambitions – we can then choose our values more freely, unrestrained by the illogical quest for immortality, and freed from dogmatic views.”
As this was the first book and first post for the Knackered Book Club, I know that I may not have a giant group of people reading this. And as this post was probably the longest one I’ve written yet, I understand there are even a smaller amount of people still reading. But for those of you who are, thank you. Please listen to me when I say that this book needs to be read. It’s not very expensive, and the ideas are so profound.
On the back cover of the book, Steve Kamb writes, “Only read if you’re willing to set aside all excuses and take an active role in living a f*cking better life.” So if you’re not in that mindset or you’re not ready for that yet, then buy the book and wait for the moment you are. Trust me.
For those of you who have read this book, what were your strongest takeaways from this? What resonated with you most? If you didn’t like it or agree with this, why do you think that is? Comment below, I’d really love to get some conversation going on this!