I have just finished The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, written by Mark Manson. It is one of those books that challenges one’s views and has changed my life for the better. Manson is a writer that gives life and relationship advice on his blog which has hundreds of thousands of monthly viewers, found at https://markmanson.net/. In a world that says that you should always be happy, you should aspire to be this and have that. Where success is only measured by money and how much shit you have, a house that the bank owns and a car that you can’t afford. Manson gives the reader an operating system to work off and use throughout life. By learning where to give and not give fucks.
First Manson starts with changing your view of yourself, not putting so much pressure on yourself but also being okay with where you are currently. Starting by being comfortable with yourself as being a failure, in the sense that in societies terms of a failure. Someone who isn’t always positive. The current culture that is so obsessed on being happier, healthier, smarter, faster, richer, sexier, etc. Part of being comfortable with yourself is that you should avoid searching for success defined by other’s values, society says your success is measured by your happiness or determined by how much money you make/have.
So instead of searching for happiness or success, one should solve problems that come up in life. If you don’t like the job you are in move on to another firm or change careers altogether. If you are in a toxic relationship that is weighing you down or causing you stress, leave them. However, being able to understand that once you solve a problem then other problems will arise. Changing jobs, for instance, you have to write up and distribute your resume, then having to let your current employer know that you will be looking at leaving, then once you get into the other job getting to know how they operate and making new work relationships. To get out of the toxic relationship, you have to make the hard decision to leave, then you have to deal with adjusting without them which won’t be easy but you will ultimately benefit in the long run. “Problems never stop; they merely get exchanged and/or upgraded.”
When you start searching for happiness and you often get into, what Manson describes as, the feed-back-loop from hell where you are sad, then wonder why you’re not happy, then you are even sadder because you aren’t happy and so on. One way to combat this loop is by not giving a fuck and applying the backwards law as stated by Alan Watts, a famous philosopher. Which, is the idea that the more you chase something or want something to happen the less likely you will achieve that thing as it reinforces that you lack that thing. The law is:
“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.”
Therefore, you have to not give a fuck about being successful, same goes for being happy, don’t care about not being sad. Once you do that then you might start to give a fuck about more important things.
Blaming others for your suffering and pain is a quick high, you feel good for doing it because it isn’t you, even though most of the time it will be your fault.
“People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good.”
The root problem will still persist, however, only when you realise that life is suffering then you can deal with the problem. So, one has to learn how to effectively deal with pain and suffering, by sorting out and solving the problem that life or a situation is throwing at you. Manson integrates the story of the young prince who became Buddha, who had many realizations one being that life is suffering, where “The rich suffer because of their riches. The poor suffer because of their poverty.”
Manson moves from the spiritual and philosophical reasoning of Buddha to a more biological one, where suffering is ‘nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change.’ When we are hungry we eat, when we are tired we sleep. Obviously to higher degrees of dissatisfaction. “it’s the mildly dissatisfied and insecure creature that’s going to do the most work and innovate and survive.” Pain is the body’s most effective way to initiate action. An example would be when you have known about an assignment or a project for a while but only really start and complete it when it has been left at the last minute. Obviously, a bad example but you get the point. Pain and suffering are good and should be used as fuel to drive your actions.
Understanding that life is suffering, not every day can be a sunny one, however, it is up to the individual to not run from their problems but solve them. Blaming others for your circumstances is only a quick high, and only serves to make the problem persist. The only way you will change your situation is by facing the problem head-on.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is a hardcore book. One I enjoyed reading, learned a lot and has changed a lot of my views and way I conduct myself in life. Manson does a great job of giving readers a healthy reality check letting them know that they are not special and that you must tackle your problems head-on. Failure is just the process of getting better and that everyone suffers but it’s up to you. It is not a book about not giving any fucks, but one where you choose where you distribute the fucks you give and to only things that matter to you. “a simple way of reorienting out expectations for life and choosing what is important and what is not.” Manson has produced a great read. One I needed. And one I recommend for everyone to read.
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See you on the mats.