Book review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source: Borrowed

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Mason doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

Wanting a positive experience is a negative experience.
Accepting a negative experience is a positive experience.

Do you get anxious about being anxious? (Yes.) Do you worry about how much you’re worrying? (Oh my god, yes.) WELCOME TO THE FEEDBACK LOOP FROM HELL, says Mark Manson. He’s here to tell you how to fix it.

I’m not going to tell you all the secrets of this book — at 224 pages, it’s pretty short, and it’s written in a sarcastic enough manner that it’s really compulsively readable — but I will go over a couple lines that really stuck with me.

  • Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience.
  • Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.
  • To try to avoid pain is to give too many fucks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a fuck about the pain, you become unstoppable.
  • You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.
  • The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.
  • Don’t just sit there. Do something.

Okay, so that was six lines, which is a few more than a couple, but I’m pretty sure Mark Manson would tell me to stop giving a fuck about my wording. I don’t know that I’ll blindly follow all of Manson’s advice (I have to give somewhat of a fuck about things like my job if I want to be able to pay my rent) but he makes a lot of good points about working through negative emotions and experiences in order to grow as a person.

I don’t read a lot of (or really any) self-help books, but this was a really good one! I hope I can apply some of this advice to my daily life.