The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – Book Summary

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Book Summary

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Mark Manson tells it how it is. F*ck positivity. Let’s be honest, shit is shit, and we have to live with it. He believes that today we’re facing a psychological epidemic.

He says, We believe that it’s not okay, for things to suck sometimes. Then we unconsciously start blaming ourselves. We start to feel as though something is inherently wrong with us, which drives us to all sorts of overcompensation, like buying 40 pairs of shoes, downing vodka on a Tuesday night or shooting up a school bus full of kids.

Lesson One: Suffering is Conducive to Happiness, to an Extent

  • As Freud once said, One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful. The self-help industry is full of books and gurus proclaiming that by avoiding suffering altogether, we will achieve enlightenment. Mark has a different perspective.
  • Given that suffering is inevitable, instead of asking, How do I stop suffering? We should be asking, why am I suffering? For what purpose?

Lesson Two: What to Give a Fuck About

  • Mark talks a lot about values, and values that direct your life. Good values are reality-based, socially constructive, immediate, and controllable. Some examples are open-mindedness, honesty, and creativity.
  • Bad values are superstitious, socially destructive, and not immediate or controllable. 
  • Here are four common values people hold that actually suck.
    1. Pleasure
    2. Material success
    3. Always being right
    4. Staying positive

Lesson Three: Question Your Beliefs

  • If people keep asking you out on a date but you keep saying you’re ugly, you’re probably not; you just believe it. 
  • I knew a guy in high school who held the belief that he was ugly, couldn’t get girls, and would die alone in his old age. As far as I know, his situation hasn’t changed because he hasn’t implemented this lesson. 
  • I have been experimenting with this by questioning why the person should believe in God as we are rightly told from young age. After relentlessly researching every little nuance of both sides of the argument, there was a point where I was nearly convinced that believing in God is the most logically sounded argument. But by constantly questioning my beliefs as they developed, I realised there wasn’t a black or white answer.

Lesson Four: Manson’s Law of Avoidance

  • The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.
  • It’s why people are afraid of failure. It threatens who they think they are. So they procrastinate.
  • This may explain why there are so many wantrepreneurs out there who say they are thinking or planning to do this or that idea instead of actually getting it done.

Lesson Five: Action Isn’t Just the Effect of Motivation, It’s the Cause of It

  • Sitting around waiting for magical motivation come to you is a load of crap.
  • The hardest part is getting started. But when you do and experience small wins, your brain will release dopamine and help you develop that momentum.

Lesson Six: Absolute Freedom by Itself Means Nothing

  • Mark travelled to 55 countries. He says, When you’re pursuing a wide breadth of experience, there are diminishing returns to each new adventure, each new person or thing.
  • When you’ve never left your home country, the first country you visit inspires a massive perspective shift because you have such a narrow experience base to draw on.
  • He now lives in New York with his wife and has bills to pay. And he likes it that way, even though it doesn’t sound glamorous. Freedom simply grants the opportunity for greater meaning.

Lesson Seven: Freedom in Commitment

  • Mark says, Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or one person.
  • Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted. It makes decision-making easier.

Lesson Eight: Emotions Are Overrated

  • Decision-making based on emotional intuition, without the aid of reason to keep it in line, pretty much always sucks.
  • You know who bases their entire lives on their emotions? Three-year-old kids and dogs.
  • You know what else three-year-olds and dogs do? Pee on the carpet.

Lesson Nine: The Do Something Principle

  • If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it.
  • Who do you think will win a game of chess? The guy that studies a textbook for a year or the guy that actually moves the goddamn pieces?

Lesson 10: Don’t Try

  • Have you ever noticed when you stop giving a f*ck about something, everything seems to fall in to place?
  • Think about it. Those who give too many
  • f*cks about making money don’t make it because they become selfish. They fail to listen to the market or what their customers truly want.
  • Those who give too many f*cks about getting girls come across as desperate, anxious, and end up going home empty-handed.

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