Are you someone who cares too much about how others perceive you, or do you spend a lot of time and energy worrying about things that are in reality insignificant? If you can relate to any of these questions, this New-york times bestseller book by Mark Manson can help you master the art of not giving a fuck!
Mark Manson is an American self-help author and a blogger. You can read his blogs at markmanson.net. Besides the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*K, Mark has written another New-york times bestseller called Everything is Fucked.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck begins by sharing the life story of the German-American novelist, and poet Charles Bukowski and how his literary success was rooted in the complete acceptance of his own shortcomings and failures.
Mark Calls this the backwards law (a term originally coined by Alan Watts) according to which the more you crave a positive experience the more negative you feel because it deepens your sense of realization that you do not have the things that you’re trying to pursue. Whereas the complete acceptance of your negative experiences can lead to positive experiences.
As an example of the backwards law, Mark calls out the mainstream self-help industry which thrives on the insecurities of the general population. Most contemporary self-help gurus dangle the carrot of positive experience in front of their audience and make them believe that their lives are incomplete because they haven’t attained all the luxuries they’re pursuing. I’m sure you might have come across such ads on YouTube.
The author emphasizes that life itself is a form of suffering; a message from the teachings of Buddha. Mark tries to shed light on the positive side of suffering, he reminds us that suffering adds meaning to our lives, it pushes us to take action and do the things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. To validate Mark’s take on suffering, imagine living a life that’s always filled with comfort and you’ll realize that such a life would lack progress, it would be stagnant on many levels.
There’s a possibility that someone who has not read this book might get the wrong impression when they first see the title of this book. Because not giving a fu*k could also be perceived as being a mean and indifferent person. But that’s not what this book is about.
Mark clarifies that it’s impossible to completely detach yourself from the world and not give a fu*k about anything. Because even if you decide to do so, you’re still giving a fuck about ‘not giving a fuck about anything’. So the point is, you need to choose carefully what is it in your life that you really want to give a fuck about; in other words, only invest your fu*ks in things that matter the most to you.
This book also talks about taking responsibility for everything that you experience in life. Here’s why, the moment you start to feel that you are a victim of your external circumstances, you feel disempowered. But in reality, you always have the choice to shift your perspective and understand that no matter what hardships you go through in life, you still have the power to decide how you would like to respond to the situation and how you would like to feel about it.
In another chapter, Mark talks about questioning your own thoughts, beliefs, and actions all the time, as this constant introspection would allow you to realize how wrong you are about certain things that you firmly believe to be right or true.
Imagine yourself 10 years ago. Do you hold the same ideas and beliefs that you did back then? Probably not. You might disagree with the old version of yourself in a lot of ways, which is good! The understanding that you were wrong in the past is a sign of growth; you’ve come out of the cocoon of your old belief system.
This is also a reminder that you could be wrong about the things that you believe to be true today 5 years from now or 10 years from now. So, always question yourself.
To get his point across, Mark uses real-life examples of various personalities. He mentions Gautam Buddha a couple of times in the book; he talks about Willam James, the father of American psychology, and Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese commanding officer who spent 29 years in the Philippine jungles fighting a battle (WW II) that was settled a long time ago.
When it comes to the writing tone, Mark’s style of writing is pretty causal. Reading the book feels as if Mark is sharing his thoughts with a close buddy of his, and if you’re someone who finds offensive language and edgy jokes to be uncomfortable, think twice before reading this book because you’ll find plenty of those.
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