The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, was one of the hottest self-help books of last year. Some people think it got popular because of the title, and while the title does make you want to read it, the book itself is great (as is Mark’s blog if you want more).
I first read this book last year, and since a lot of it stuck with me I decided to reread it and summarize the main points.
The main lessons I took from the book are:
- Feedback loop from hell: The concept of the “feedback loop from hell” has to do with human psychology and mental processes about being anxious about being anxious. The way it works is that your brain will tell you something that makes you feel bad, then you’ll feel back for feeling bad and the cycle continues. The way to get out of feeling bad, is just to admit to yourself it’s a bad situation and move on. The philosophy behind this is that accepting your own negative experience is a positive experience because it helps you move on with your life.
- What pain do you want to sustain / do you love the process?: Life is full of hardship, struggle and pain. There is no avoiding it. The question then is, “what pain do you want to sustain?”. I found this is something many people don’t think about. There are a lot of cool things that you could work on in your life. One way to really decide what you want to do is ask yourself, what pain are you willing to tolerate, because that must mean you really want it! Do you want to be an actor? Well, then you have to be ready to be able to accept the pain of rejection in auditions, and working as a waiter until you make it. Do you want to start your own business? Well, then you should be ready to accept the pain of not having a stable paycheck until things pick up and maybe some sleepless nights etc.
- 5 values he encourages you to have (I found a lot of them to be heavily influenced by Stoicism)
1) Ownership: Responsibility is not fault. This is something so many adults struggle with. People are quick to blame others, but most times in life that doesn’t matter. If fate hoists something upon you, it doesn’t really make a difference whose fault it is. It’s still your responsibility to do something about it. The example given is that if you wake up one day and find that someone left a baby outside your house, is it your fault? No of course not. But is it your responsibility? Well, it is now.
2) You are always wrong: If you plot the things you know against the things you don’t know, the former wouldn’t even register on the graph. The only way to be better is to try and be little less wrong and a little more in the know every day. This is done by hypothesizing your personal growth, realizing that all beliefs are wrong to a certain degree (later generations will probably laugh at how immoral and stupid we all are), memories are not real (your memories are just the last time you recall that memory happening. It’s like your mind’s version of the telephone game) and have heavy self-skepticism (of course you’ll think you’re right but always entertain the notion that everything you know could be wrong).
3) Willingness to fail and accept your flaws. “The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid doing it.” The way to keep yourself motivated for unpleasant things is just to take action. Action proceeds motivation, not vice versa. He calls this the “do something principle”.
4) The ability to be rejected and reject others. This is the ability to both say, and hear no more often. It also involves building trust and asking yourself how would your relationship change if you refused a request? If you are unable to say no, boundaries get crossed and trust gets broken.
5) Remind yourself of death. Thinking about death is helpful because it puts things into perspective and helps us not to take things for granted. The best thing I can say about this is the quote he mentions in the book from Mark Twain, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”