Today I’m sharing my latest gem of a read, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Beyond the fun of going to the counter at the bookstore and asking for it by its title, this book was a very refreshing read with philosophies and theories that I haven’t yet come across in all of my self-help journeys. A few points in particular really struck a chord with me and I’m still finding myself thinking them over on a daily basis.
Why it’s different than all the others
Regular readers will know that I am no stranger to self-help anything. I’m on a never-ending exploration for increased wellness in all ways and that includes reading a number of great books. (See some of my favorite reads in past posts here, and here). Often times, I find similar information across these books, written in different ways. That’s not a bad thing, since I do think it takes a lot of exposure to new information and practices to drive the point home. But it was nice to find this completely different take.
While I definitely take bits and pieces from all different sources and wouldn’t swear by any one book from start to finish, there were a number of new ways to look at life, problems, happiness and relationships in this book that I really appreciated.
Manson is less about being optimistic and hopeful for the future and our dreams, and more about being “real” with yourself and accepting what is. He says that the more we think about and focus on what we don’t have (even if that’s in the form of affirmations), the more we are actually staying in the negative and reminding ourselves of the lack we currently feel. Manson believes that accepting where you are in life, including your known limitations, actually helps to draw more in. Food for thought. (But I’m still an affirmation lover so I think there’s a possible balance to find there between the two).
Manson talks a lot about our approach to first defining “problems” and then solving them. He believes that happiness lies within solving problems and it can therefore be hindered by denying those problems and/or playing the victim. I liked how he spoke about problems as always being there in life — there are “better” problems and “worse” problems and we of course strive to have better ones, but it’s how we address them that determines our happiness. A big part of his whole theory is deciding what’s “worth giving a f*ck about,” as he puts it.
My favorite points
The book honestly covered so many topics that I just chose a couple here that really stood out to me.
1. One of my biggest takeaways was Manson’s chapter on the “dangers of pure certainty.” This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately in myself, and his explanations really hit home. As someone with a propensity to be stubborn (it’s possible that some of my family members would word that differently..), I used to be extremely certain of everything. Not open to anything that I already knew wouldn’t interest me, and therefore probably lost out on a number of opportunities.
Manson says that “certainty is the enemy of growth” and I couldn’t agree more.
…uncertainty removes our judgements of others…also relieves us of our judgement of ourselves. We don’t know if we’re lovable or not; we don’t know how attractive we are; we don’t know how successful we could potentially become. The only way to achieve these things to remain uncertain of them and be open to finding them out through experience…This openness to being wrong must exists for any real change or growth to take place.”
Boom. I loved that. It took me an embarrassingly long time to arrive at that conclusion, and he said it perfectly. Growth is all about openness and having flexible and changeable opinions on everything and everyone. I think the only real pressure to know anything for certain comes from within ourselves and our insecurities, so as soon as we can become conscious of that, we can start to really experience growth.
2. Another great point that’s a theme throughout the book is challenging our own beliefs constantly. This idea kind of works in tandem with the previous one in the sense that we should never trust ourselves or what we think we know fully.
Manson takes a whole chapter to explain why we shouldn’t rely solely on emotions, as they’re “feedback mechanisms telling us that something is either likely right or likely wrong for us—nothing more, nothing less.” He goes on later in the book to talk about how the meaning we make of things around us, which then become beliefs, are extremely biased and often involve mistakes or misinterpretations. Translation: we should not just blindly trust ourselves, our minds, or our emotions, but rather keep a healthy dose of self-skepticism around.
But perhaps the answer is to trust yourself less. After all, if our hearts and minds are so unreliable, maybe we should be questioning our own intentions and motivations more. If we’re all wrong, all the time, then isn’t self-skepticism and the rigorous challenging of our own beliefs and assumptions the only logical route to progress?
I’d suggest reading it if you…
feel tired of reading the same self-help information over and over and want a completely fresh prospective and approach. Also if you are ready to not make any more excuses and face some big questions head on, it’s a good time to open this one up.
Pick it up here:The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (and it’s $14.99 – the cheapest listing I could find!)
Have any of you already read this book? What were your thoughts? If you haven’t, what do you think of some of these points I brought up?
Would love to hear your thoughts, as always.