Cover of book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

by: Mark Manson

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65 Highlights | 4 Notes
  • “It was his simple ability to be completely, unflinchingly honest with himself - especially the worst parts of himself – and to share his failings without hesitation or doubt!”
    Note: About Charles Bukowski
  • Back in Grandpa's day, he would feel like shit and think to himself, “Gee whiz, I sure do feel like a cow turd today. But hey, I guess that's just life. Back to shoveling hay.”
  • It's this last part that gets us into trouble. We feel bad about feeling bad. We feel guilty for feeling guilty. We get angry about getting angry. We get anxious about feeling anxious. What is wrong with me?
  • 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.
  • The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships. Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.
  • Subtlety#1: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent, it means comfortable with being different.
  • The willingness to stare failure in the face and shove your middle finger back at it. The people who don't give a fuck about adversity or failure or embarrassing themselves or shitting the bed a few times. The people who just laugh and then do what they believe in anyway. Because they know, it's right. They know it's more important than they are, more important than their feelings and their own pride and their own ego. They say 'Fuck it', not to everything in life, but rather to everything unimportant in life.
  • Subtlety#2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.
  • HCD- Home control Disease
  • It then follows that finding something important and meaningful in your life is perhaps the most productive use of your time and energy.
  • Subtlety#3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.
  • It's fueled in part by a reluctance to abdicate responsibility in the one place female authority is unquestioned. At home, women wield enormous power.
  • This belief that it's not okay to be inadequate sometimes is the source of the growing Feedback Loop from Hell that is coming to dominate our culture.
  • This book will not teach you how to gain or achieve, but rather how to lose and let go. It will teach you to take inventory of your life and scrub out all but the most important items. It will teach you to close your eyes and trust that you can fall backwards and still be okay. It will teach you to give fewer fucks. It will teach you not to try.
  • There is a premise that underlies a lot of our assumptions and beliefs. The premise is that happiness is algorithmic, that it can be worked for and earned and achieved as if it were getting accepted to law school or building a really complicated Lego set.
  • We have evolved to always live with a certain degree of dissatisfaction, and insecurity, because it's the mildly dissatisfied and insecure creature that's going to do most of the work to innovate and survive. We are wired to become dissatisfied with whatever we have and satisfied by only what we do not have. This constant dissatisfaction has kept our species fighting and striving, building and conquering. So no - our own pain and misery aren't a bug of human evolution; they're a feature.
  • “Life is essentially an endless series of problems, Mark,” the panda told me. He sipped his drink and adjusted the little pink umbrella. “The solution to one problem is merely the creation of the next one.”

    “Don't hope for a life without problems,” the panda said. “There's no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems.”
  • Problems never stop; they merely get exchanged and / or upgraded.
    Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is 'solving'. If you're avoiding your problems or feel like you don't have any problems, then you're going to make yourself miserable. If you feel like you have problems that you can't solve, you will likewise make yourself miserable.
    To be happy, we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it's an activity.
  • Emotions are part of the equation of our lives, but not the ENTIRE equation. Just because something feels good doesn't mean it IS good. Just because something feels bad, doesn't mean it IS bad. Emotions are merely signposts, SUGGESTIONS that our neurobiology gives us, not commandments. Therefore, we shouldn't trust our emotions. In fact, I believe we should make a habit of questioning them.
    Note: So different from the fire-starter sessions, where you decide how you want to feel first, then act that way. But maybe, not so different after all. For, in FSS, it's not how I am feeling NOW that matters. It is always irrelevant. What matters is how I want to be feeling, and identifying what would help make me feel that way, and doing that. So once you start doing, aka solving the problem, you feel happier, So just the same thing - but working with how emotional we are and sliding past our emotions as opposed to fighting it. The slippery water way as opposed to the gladiator Iron way, Huh!, #to-do, #blog
  • A more interesting question, a question that most people never consider, is, “What PAIN do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”
    Note: I want to struggle for spending time with family outdoors, getting out there and climbing and hiking and doing outdoorsy stuff. I want to struggle to create. I want to struggle to be mindful. I want to struggle to be a laughing, time-luxurious smiley monk who has all the time in the world. I want the struggle of learning. I want the struggle of being with friends and family. I want the struggle of financial independence.
  • Who you are is defined by what you're willing to struggle for. People who ENJOY the struggles of a gym are the ones who run triathlons and have chiseled abs, and can bench press a small house. People who ENJOY long work weeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who fly to the top of it. People who ENJOY the stresses and uncertainties of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.
  • People who become great at something become great because they understand that they're not already great - they are mediocre, they are average - and that they could be so much better.
  • You will have a growing appreciation for life's basic experiences; the pleasures of a simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about.
  • The third level is our personal values: WHY do I consider this to be success/failure? How am I choosing to measure myself? By what standard am I judging myself and everyone around me?
  • It takes years of practice and effort to get good at identifying blind spots in ourselves and then expressing the affected emotions appropriately. But this task is hugely important, and worth the effort.
  • Honest self-questioning is difficult. It requires asking yourself simple questions that are uncomfortable to answer. In fact, in my experience, the more uncomfortable the answer, the more likely it is to be true.
  • What is objectively true about your situation is not as important as how you come to see the situation, how you choose to measure it and value it. Problems might be inevitable, but the MEANING of each problem is not. We get to control what our problems mean based on how we choose to think about them, the standard by which we choose to measure them.
  • The question is not WHETHER we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is BY WHAT STANDARD do we measure ourselves.
  • Our values determine the metrics by which we measure ourselves and everyone else.
  • PLEASURE: Pleasure is great, but it's a horrible value to prioritize your life around.
  • The fact is, people who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes.
    It's far more helpful to assume that you're ignorant and don't know a whole lot. This keeps you unattached to superstitious or poorly informed beliefs and promotes a constant state of learning and growth.
  • Good values are
    1. Reality-based
    2. Socially constructive and
    3. immediate and controllable.
    Bad values are
    1. superstitious
    2. socially destructive and
    3. not immediate or controllable
  • Often the only difference between a problem being painful or being powerful is a sense that we chose it, and that we are responsible for it.
  • In his diary, he wrote that he would spend one year believing he was 100 percent responsible for everything that occurred in his life, no matter what. During this period, he would do everything in his power to change his circumstances, no matter the likelihood of failure.
  • But there's a better version of this quote, a version that actually is profound, and all you have to do is switch the nouns around: “With great responsibility comes great power.”
    The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives. Accepting responsibility for our problems is thus the first step to solving them.
  • A lot of people hesitate to take responsibility for their problems because they believe that to be responsible for you problems is to also be AT FAULT for your problems.
  • We are responsible for experiences that aren't our fault all the time. This is part of life.
    Here's one way to think about the distinction between the two concepts. Fault is past tense. Responsibility is present tense. Fault results from choices that have already been made. Responsibility comes from the choices you're currently making, every second of every day.
  • I learned the hard way that if the people in your relationships are selfish and doing hurtful things, it's likely you are too, you just don't realize it.
  • These are necessary, though painful, side effects of choosing to place your fucks elsewhere, in a place far more important and more worthy of your energies. As you reassess your values, you will be met with internal and external resistance along the way. More than anything, you will feel uncertain; you will wonder if what you're doing is wrong.
    But as we'll see, this is a good thing.
    Note: on rejection
  • When viewed from this perspective, personal growth can actually be quite scientific. Our values are our hypotheses: this behavior is good and important; that other behavior is not. Our actions are the experiments; the resulting emotions and thought patterns are our data.
  • Instead of looking to be right all the time, we should be looking for how we're wrong all the time. Because we are.
  • The unfortunate fact is most of what we come to “know” and believe is the product of the innate inaccuracies and biases present in our brains. Many or even most of our values are products of event that are not representative of the world at large, or are the result of a totally misconceived past.
    The result of all this? Most of our beliefs are wrong. Or, to be more exact, ALL beliefs are wrong - some are less wrong than others. The human mind is a jumble of inaccuracies.
  • 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?
    This may sound scary and self-destructive. But it's actually quite the opposite. It's not only the safer option, but it's liberating as well.
  • But the converse is true as well: the more you embrace being uncertain and not knowing, the more comfortable you will feel in knowing what you don't know.
  • The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it. That means the more something threatens to change how you view yourself, how successful / unsuccessful you believe yourself to be, how well you see yourself living up to your values, the more you will avoid ever getting around to doing it.
  • I have both some good news and bad news for you: THERE IS LITTLE THAT IS UNIQUE OR SPECIAL ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS. That's why letting go is liberating.
  • How to be a little less certain of yourself:
    • Question 1: What if I'm wrong?Question 2: What would it mean if I were wrong?
    • Question 3: Would being wrong create a better or worse problem than my current problem, for both myself and others?
    That's simply reality: if it feels like it's you versus the world, chances are it's really just you versus yourself.
  • If every project I started failed, if every post I wrote went unread, I'd only be back exactly where I'd started. So why not try?
  • Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you've failed at something.
  • Our most radical changes in perspective often happen at the tail end of our worst moments. It's only when we feel intense pain that we're willing to look at our values and question why they seem to be failing us. We NEED some sort of existential crisis to take an objective look at how we've been deriving meaning in our life, and then consider changing course.
  • Many people, when they feel some form of pain or anger or sadness, drop everything and attend to numbing out whatever they're feeling. Their goal is to get back to “feeling good” again as quickly as possible, even if that means substances or deluding themselves or returning to their shitty values.
    Learn to sustain the pain you've chosen. When you choose a new value, you are choosing to introduce a new form of pain into your life. Relish it. Savor it. Welcome it with open arms. Then act DESPITE it.
  • When I was in high school, my math teacher Mr. Packwood used to say, “If you're stuck on a problem, don't sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don't know what you're doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.”
  • Action isn't just the effect of motivation; it's also the cause of it.
  • Freedom grants the opportunity for greater meaning, but by itself there is nothing 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.
  • And to build trust, you have to be honest. That means when things suck, you say so openly and without apology.
  • The point is this: we all must give a fuck about SOMETHING, in order to VALUE something. And to value something, we must reject what is not that something. To value X, we must reject non-X.
  • The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship comes down to two things:
    1. How well each person in the relationship accepts responsibility, and
    2. the willingness of each person to both reject and be rejected by their partner.
  • In each scenario, the person is either taking responsibility for problems/emotions that are not theirs, or demanding that someone else take responsibility for their problems / emotions.
  • When you have murky areas of responsibility for your emotions and actions - areas where it's unclear who is responsible for what, whose fault is what, why you're doing what you're doing - you never develop strong values for yourself. Your only value BECOMES making your partner happy. Or your only value becomes your partner making you happy.
  • For savers, the hardest thing to do in the world is to stop taking responsibility for other people's problems. They've spent their whole life feeling values and loved only when they're saving somebody else - so letting go of this need is terrifying to them as well.
  • It can be difficult for people to recognize the difference between doing something out of obligation and doing it voluntarily. So here's a litmus test: ask yourself, “If I refused, how would the relationship change?” Similarly, ask, “If my partner refused something I wanted, how would the relationship change?”
  • People with strong boundaries are not afraid of a temper tantrum, an argument, or getting hurt. People with weak boundaries are terrified of those things and will constantly mold their own behavior to fit the highs and lows of their relational roller coaster.
    People with strong boundaries understand that it's unreasonable to expect two people to accommodate each other 100 percent and fulfil every need the other has. People with strong boundaries understand that they may hurt someone's feelings sometimes, but ultimately they can't determine how other people feel. People with strong boundaries understand that a healthy relationship is not about controlling one another's emotions, but rather about each partner supporting the other in their individual growth and in solving their own problems.
    It's not about giving a fuck about everything your partner gives a fuck about; it's about giving a fuck about your partner regardless of the fucks he or she gives.
  • When our highest priority is to always make ourselves feel good, or to always make our partner feel good, then nobody ends up feeling good. And our relationship falls apart without our even knowing it.
  • Commitment gives you freedom because you're no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous. Commitment gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most efficient at making you healthy and happy. Commitment makes decision-making easier and removes any fear of missing out; knowing that what you already have is good enough, why would you ever stress about chasing more, more, more again? Commitment allows you to focus intently on a few highly important goals and achieve a greater degree of success than you otherwise would.
  • … if there really is no reason to do anything, then there is also no reason NOT to do anything; that in the face of the inevitability of death, there is no reason to ever give in to one's fear or embarrassment or shame, since it's all just a bunch of nothing anyway; and by spending the majority of my short life avoiding what was painful and uncomfortable, I had essentially been avoiding being alive at all.