This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!
“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience”
The author introduce his book with the story of a man who, for the majority of his life, was a complete failure and a loser. Eventually, this man – Charles Bukowski – found success in his writing career. But that didn’t really make him much less of a loser-like behaviours that had become a habit for much of his adult life – getting drunk every night, spending his time with prostitutes, and exposing himself in public, just to name a few.
Interestingly enough, when Bukowski died, the epitaph engraved on his tombstone said: “Don’t Try.” This advice and Bukowski’s story, completely flies in the face of the thousands of books, movies and seminars that all preach that if you don’t give up, you can overcome your shortcomings and become great. But Manson tells us that this supposedly positive self-help advice is actually contributing to your unhappiness because it highlights everything that you lack, essentially saying that in order to improve, you have to feel really bad about yourself first.
Manson insists that the conventional “think positive” approach teaches us that we need to give a fuck about too many things – nice cars, perfect bodies, the biggest house, the most attractive family, etc. And every day we are bombarded with images from our TV and smartphone screens that show us other people that have these kinds of amazing lives. We begin to believe that feeling anxious or sad or unsatisfied is simply unacceptable at all times, which makes us feel even worse for feeling these emotions.
So Manson has an alternative theory. Since the desire for a better life actually has a negative effect on our emotions, we should instead accept the negative aspects of our life. Doing this will lead to a more positive experience, because as soon as we stop fearing the pain of our negative experiences, we are able to truly challenge ourselves without allowing anything to hold us back. Don’t try to achieve happiness by escaping the negative aspects of your life, but rather by embracing them. “To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take actions.”
Manson is quick to clarify that he does not mean that a person should be indifferent to everything in life – those kinds of people are known as psychopaths. Rather than being indifferent, we should learn how to be comfortable with being different. This means not caring what someone thinks of our outfit or our choice of career – standing by our choices in the face of adversity. And to stare down adversity, we must first learn how to care about something bigger than adversity – rising above the trivial annoyances of our lives in order to find a problem worth “giving a fuck about.” And we do control what we give a fuck (care a lot) about.
Bottom line? You have the choice to care or not to care about the things that happen in your life. So you need to choose to care about something that’s really and truly important. Manson writes, “Choose to give a fuck only about the things that are truly important.”
Don’t Give A F*ck!