Been a while since I’ve done a book review. Maybe I’ll just chalk to this one up to laziness? Sounds good to me.
Ok, so, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. We are here. We made it. I put off reading this book for a long time. I felt that I had gotten to a point where all I was reading were self-help books, which isn’t a bad thing. But just like anything in life, change is soon to follow and I started to notice that my taste in reading has slowly been changing.
However, I ain’t ever, never, going to give up self-help books. They’re one of the top positive influencers in my life, but there comes a point where you have to start applying the information that you’ve been learning from these books. If all you’re doing is going from self-help seminar to self-help seminar and reading self-help books like they’re going out of style, but you’re not actually progressing in life, then you’re using self-help as a distraction. And I need to clarify that this isn’t me bashing on self-help. At any giving point I’ll have a self-help book in my reading line-up. It’s just easier to feel like you’re being productive as you’re blowing through self-helps books compared to fiction.
Let me shut up now and get to an actual review of the book.
I loved it. It’s been a long time since I’ve caught myself laughing out loud from reading a book. From start to finish, this book had me doing exactly that. I’ve known about the book for sometime but after listening to Mark Manson on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast and hearing how he was a straight up, genuine dude, I knew I had to give it a read.
At the end of the day, the book just works. It’s practical. There’s no getting lost trying to decipher the self-help message and no “just believe in the power of positivity” nonsense. Plus, the man calls himself out, a lot. Which to me, let’s me know that there’s some authenticity behind the man.
Basically, in short, this book is the opposite to most of the self-help books out there. We all give a certain amount of fucks, but what happens if some of those fucks are being dished out to the wrong areas in our lives? What are some ways that we can start giving a fuck about the right things––the things that are actually worth giving a fuck about? Between Ryan Holiday’s EGO IS THE ENEMY, and Steven Pressfield’s THE WAR OF ART, this is easily in my top three when it comes to self-help books.
Standouts: “The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
“To be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you, not something that you magically discover in a top-ten article on the Huffington Post or from any specific guru or teacher.”
“The common cultural narratives would tell me that I somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser, that I just didn’t “have it,” that I gave up on my dream and that maybe I let myself succumb to the pressures of society. But the truth is far less interesting than any of these explanations. The truth is, I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.”
“You are already choosing, in every moment of every day, what to give a fuck about, so change is as simple as choosing to give a fuck about something else. It really is that simple. It’s just not easy. It’s not easy because you’re going to feel like a loser, a fraud, a dumbass at first. You’re going to be nervous. You’re going to freak out. You may get pissed off at your wife or your friends or your father in the process. These are all side effects of changing your values, of changing the fucks you’re giving. But they are inevitable. It’s simple but really, really hard.”
“If suffering is inevitable, if our problems in life are unavoidable, then the question we should be asking is not ‘How do I stop suffering?’ but ‘Why am I suffering – for what purpose?’”
“This, in a nutshell, is what ‘self-improvement’ is really about: prioritizing better values, choosing better things to give a fuck about. Because when you give better fucks, you get better problems. And when you get better problems, you get a better life.”
“And certainly you will weather rejections. Many of the relationships in your life were built around the values you’ve been keeping, so the moment you change those values—the moment you decide that studying is more important than partying, that getting married and having a family is more important than rampant sex, that working a job you believe in is more important than money—your turnaround will reverberate out through your relationships, and many of them will blow up in your face. This too is normal and this too will be uncomfortable.”
“It’s easier to sit in a painful certainty that nobody would find you attractive, that nobody appreciates your talents, than to actually test those beliefs and find out for sure.”
The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it. That law applies to both good and bad. Making a million dollars, or becoming a famous rock star, could threaten your identity.
There’s a certain comfort that comes with knowing how you fit in the world. Anything that shakes that up comfort––even if it could potentially make your life better––is inherently scary.”
“Uncertainty removes our judgments of others; it preempts the unnecessary stereotyping and biases that we otherwise feel when we see somebody on TV, in the office, or on the street. Uncertainty also relieves us of our judgment 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 is to remain uncertain of them and be open to finding them out through experience.”
“That’s simply reality: if it feels like it’s you versus the world, chances are it’s really just you versus yourself.”
“If your metric for the value “success by worldly standards” is “Buy a house and a nice car,” and you spend twenty years working your ass off to achieve it, once it’s achieved the metric has nothing left to give you. Then say hello to your midlife crisis, because the problem that drove you your entire adult life was just taken away from you. There are no other opportunities to keep growing and improving, and yet it’s growth that generates happiness, not a long list of arbitrary achievements.”
“Now I live in New York. I have a house and furniture and an electric bill and a wife. None of it is particularly glamorous or exciting. And I like it that way. Because after all the years of excitement, the biggest lesson I took from my adventuring was this: absolute freedom, by itself, means nothing.
Freedom grants the opportunity for greater meaning, but by itself there is nothing necessarily meaningful about it. Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or (gulp) one person.”
Recommended for: Anyone looking to dabble in the self-help world who might have some hesitations.