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The Subtle Art of Not giving a f*Ck by Mark manson
- Publisher: HarperOne
- Genre: Self-Help
- Audience: Adult
- Pages: 212 (hardcover)
- Trigger Warnings: excessive use of the f-bomb
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is very true to its name, as Mark Manson’s main priority is to convince readers to stop caring too much about everything and instead care a lot about very few things.
My dive into self-help books has been a fairly recent development, so the only experience I have in this field is through the reading of Live Original by Sadie Robertson (a religious-based self-book and therefore located far, far away in content similarities from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck) and You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (slightly closer, but far more encouraging than Manson’s book).
However, I found myself entertained by Manson’s writing, which had me smiling and laughing more than I expected. Though a majority of his main arguments didn’t settle with me, there were bits and pieces of content that were really helpful and I am grateful I took the time to open myself up to through reading.
What Did Work for Me
One concept present throughout The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (which I’m calling “Subtle Art etc.” from now on) was that pain and suffering are an inevitable part of human existence. Regardless of how great someone’s life seems to be (or how much it seems to totally suck), pain and suffering is one thing that remains consistent. It’s going to happen no matter how much we try to avoid it.
Therefore, do we really want to waste our time and energy focusing on giving a f*ck about trivial things? Oh, your partner forgot to unload the dishwasher like you asked? You can waste time and energy beging extremely upset about it, OR you can use that same time and energy for things that really matter.
The problem Manson points out is that we care way too much about way too many things, when really, we need to care about really few things.
Once we narrow down our lives to the few things that truly matter to us, and vow to only give a f*ck about those things, our pain and suffering lessens. Why? Because now, because we care about these few things instead of the many, only those few things can truly bring us pain and suffering.
Manson builds on this by saying that once our pain and suffering is caused by the things we truly care about, we might not mind it too much. As Manson says, “Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.” For example, say you wrote a totally awesome book you were extremely passionate about and started querying it. Soon enough, your inbox starts flooding with… rejection after rejection. Cue the pain and suffering. But because you care so much about your goals, and you really do love writing, the amount of pain and suffering you feel is no match for the happiness and satisfaction that writing that book made you feel.
Another concept present in Subtle Art etc. that I really enjoyed was what Manson says about responsibility.
Things happen to us everyday, some good and some bad. The things that happen to us are not always our fault (in fact, I’d wager that most of what happens to us is not our fault). This fault may belong to other people, but in the end fault rarely matters. What matters is taking responsibility for our reactions, which is wholly OUR responsibility (not anyone else’s).
For example, say your significant other cheats on you. It is not your fault that they cheated on you (in fact, that is totally their fault), but it is YOUR responsibility for how you respond — the feelings you feel, the actions you take, and how you choose to heal and move on (or dwell on it) afterwards. Once you accept that it’s your responsibility, you’ll be able to forgive and forget, letting go of the pain and the suffering in order to heal faster and bring yourself back to happiness.
What Didn’t Work for Me
While many readers come out the other side of Subtle Art etc. feeling rejuvenated and overall better about their lives (at least, from what I’ve gleaned scouring reviews across different reviewing platforms), I made my way through it feeling… honestly? Pretty crappy about myself at times.
Manson puts things quite bluntly in Subtle Art etc., one of these blunt statements being that we are taught from a young age that we can all be extraordinary. But that’s not possible, so we should just get over that, and as long as we start accepting that we can’t all be special and some of us are, indeed, ordinary (i.e. just stop giving a f*ck about trying to be extraordinary) we can live happier lives.
For others, this concept might be liberating or satisfying, but for me, it just felt demotivating. I might be one of those people who is delusional, who still tries to buy into the “you could be extraordinary if you just keep trying, keep being you” but I am totally okay with that. I’d rather live that way and be disappointed every single day of my life that I don’t reach “extraordinary” status rather than give up and accept the mundane reality that I’m just ordinary. I feel as though we all have potential. And my potential is one of the few things (see what I did there, Manson?) that I’m going to decide to give a huge f*ck about.
So in the end, Manson had some great takeaways scattered here and there, but the argument to stop expecting or pushing for greatness and instead accept that you can’t be best or accomplish all you want fell flat for me.
Extra tid-bits worth mentioning
Comical; interesting firsthand accounts, stories, and experiences; and excessive amount of cussing (though obvious through his chosen title), a self help book great for men but also great for women (the reverse cannot be said for some self-help books so I think it’s a good idea to mention this).
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark MansonThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
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Let’s Chat in the Comments!
Have you read The Subtle Art of Giving a F*ck before? If so, what are your thoughts? If you’ve read other self help books before, what were they and how did you enjoy those?