I recently finished an amazing book given to me by a good friend. The book is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I know what you're thinking. That sounds a bit too aggressive. I thought the same thing. But honestly, the author hits the nail on the head with this one.
His main point is to give less fucks. In other words, care about less things. He's not saying it in a cynical or apathetic way but in a realistic way. Essentially, if you can train yourself to care about only the things that truly matter, you won't get caught up in all the trivialities that consume so many of us.
"The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it's giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important."
As you would probably expect, the author attributes many of our problems today to the incessant use of social media and critiques what he calls the feedback loop from hell. He discusses how looking at your Facebook feed, seeing everyone having awesome fucking lives can cause us to feel like our own lives suck even worse than we thought. I'd have to say that Manson is spot on with this thought. All this Internet madness has made us into comparison whores.
"Because there’s an infinite amount of things we can now see or know, there are also an infinite number of ways we can discover that we don’t measure up, that we’re not good enough, that things aren’t as great as they could be. And this rips us apart inside."
The paradox, as the author says, is that our desire for more positive experiences is actually a negative experience. On the other hand, accepting our perceived negative experiences is actually positive. Gotta love irony.
Suffering is Inevitable
Another major point of the book is the fact that all of us will experience some form of pain and suffering. There's no getting around this. With this in mind, the ultimate question becomes not what do you want to enjoy. What pain are you willing to endure? That's the real question. This is what defines us. This question brings us closer to others. Anything that's worth it will cause pain and suffering, but our choice of what we choose to suffer for is everything.
Values is something else that can be make or break. Here are some shitty values as defined by the author:
1. Pleasure. Pleasure is great, but it's a horrible value to prioritize your life around. Ask any drug addict.
2. Material success. When people measure themselves by the status symbols they’re able to collect, then not only are they shallow, but they’re probably assholes as well.
3. Always being right. People who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes.
4. Staying Positive. While there is something to be said for “staying on the sunny side of life,” the truth is, sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it.
All of these are so on point. I can especially relate to number 4. I've always preached (and tried to practice) positivity, but there's a fine line between optimism and delusion. At times, I was just avoiding feeling pain or negative emotions by "staying positive". A real sign of maturity is frankly stating that sometimes life sucks. More signs of maturity include taking responsibility or ownership for your own problems or shortcomings and admitting ignorance. These leave room for real growth and self-development. Being an adult is fun, huh?
Just Do Something
Probably one of the most important takeaways from this book is the idea that you have to something. Anything. Sitting around worrying about your life will never yield results. Avoiding failure won't either. You also can't wait around until you're motivated. You have to motivate yourself by taking action. Such a valuable lesson.
"Action isn't just the effect of motivation; it's also the cause of it."
Damn. That statement is too legit.
You're Gonna Die
Perhaps the most impactful topic of this gem of a book is the reminder of your own mortality. We're scared of death, so we try to avoid the thought of it and block it out when we are confronted with it. If we remind ourselves that our days are numbered, we can begin to let go of all the nonsense and superficialities that invade our mind. Instead of focusing on minute details, think about how you're making the world better in some way. What will you leave behind when you're gone? What do you really give a fuck about?
"...death is the light by which the shadow of all life is measured. Without death, everything would feel so inconsequential, all experience arbitrary, all metrics and values suddenly zero."
There's nothing more to say.