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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life Hardcover – September 13, 2016
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“Resilience, happiness and freedom come from knowing what to care about--and most importantly, what not to care about. This is a masterful, philosophical and practical book that will give readers the wisdom to be able to do just that.” (Ryan Holiday, New York Times bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy)
“Mark’s ability to dig deep and offer amazing, yet counter-intuitive, insight into the challenges of life makes him one of my favorite writers, and this book is his best work yet.” (Matt Kepnes, New York Times bestselling author of Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter)
“This book hits you like a much-needed slap in the face from your best friend: hilarious, vulgar, and immensely thought-provoking. Only read if you’re willing to set aside all excuses and take an active role in living a f***ing better life.” (Steve Kamb, bestselling author of Level Up Your Life and founder of NerdFitness.com)
“The opposite of every other book. Don’t try. Give up. Be wrong. Lower your standards. Stop believing in yourself. Follow the pain. Each point is profoundly true, useful, and more powerful than the usual positivity. Succinct but surprisingly deep, I read it in one night.” (Derek Sivers, Founder of CD Baby and author of Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur)
“An in-your-face guide to living with integrity and finding happiness in sometimes-painful places… This book, full of counterintuitive suggestions that often make great sense, is a pleasure to read and worthy of rereading. A good yardstick by which self-improvement books should be measured.” (Kirkus Reviews)
From the Back Cover
New York Times Bestseller
In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger shows us that the key to being happier is to stop trying to be “positive” all the time and instead to become better at handling adversity.
For decades we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life.
But those days are over. “Fuck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest; sometimes things are fucked up and we have to live with it.” For the past few years, Manson—via his wildly popular blog—has been working on correcting our delusional expectations for ourselves and for the world. He now brings his hard-fought wisdom to this groundbreaking book.
Manson makes the argument—backed by both 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 better stomach lemons. Human beings are flawed and limited—as he writes, “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. This, he says, is the real source of empowerment. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties—once we stop running from and avoiding, and start confronting painful truths—we can begin to find the courage and confidence we desperately seek.
“In life, we have a limited amount of fucks to give. So you must choose your fucks wisely.” Manson brings a much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor. This manifesto is a refreshing slap in the face for all of us so that we can start to lead more contented, grounded lives.
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Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** employs a witty use of profanity laced with satirical comedy that's bursting with philosophical wisdom. Much of Manson's inspiration originates from nihilists, Buddhists, Albert Camus, and Charles Bukowski, but he brings those philosophies into a more modern and palatable perspective. He reminds us that life is too short to react so passionately about every little thing. We have a limited emotional capacity, and we often squander it on reactions to mean-spirited people or unfortunate events, completely forgetting that, although we can't control the world around us, we can control ourselves. This book has empowered me to exercise control over my reactions.
Shortly after reading this book, my husband commented at how "zen" I've become. I'm no longer angrily venting to him about all of the various ways the world upsets me. I still allow myself to feel and talk about things that bother me (I'm not aiming to achieve nirvana as a Buddhist monk), but petty things no longer have a hold on me. I let the negativity wash over me now without letting it absorb into my soul, and my life has been much more enjoyable as a result.
I was so inspired by this book and its philosophy, that I wanted a permanent reminder for myself to further ensure that I use my f***s wisely from now onward. For my birthday, I got this simple, but meaningful tattoo on my right wrist. The ∞ symbol reminds me of the infinite nature of time and outer space, and the 0 on the bottom represents humanity's relevance to time and space as a whole. It can also be translated as don't make something (∞) out of nothing (0) or a reminder that there are infinite opportunities to give a f***, but that I will remain steadfast in giving 0 f***s about things that don't really matter.
If you're the type of person who's struggled to keep their temper in line or if you're like me and you find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster because you take every event in the world and within your own life to heart, I strongly encourage you to read this book. If profanity is so much of a problem for you, that you can't tolerate reading the first half of this book (the last half is much less profane) you're probably too narrow-minded to have taken away any of the many philosophical benefits this book offers.
Mark makes it clear that he's NOT saying you should not care about anything. Not at all. What he is saying is that you should pick carefully WHICH things you care about: "This book will help you think a little bit more clearly about what you’re choosing to find important in life and what you’re choosing to find unimportant." He's not suggesting we should be indifferent; rather, carefully deciding where to place our concern.
How you pick your top concerns has practical consequences. Mark gives a real-world example about a cranky person in the check-out line at the market. The elderly customer is making a big fuss about some minor thing. Why? Because they don't have anything else to occupy their time. If you don't have anything substantive to occupy your time, then it's trivial stuff that bothers you: "Your ex-boyfriend’s new Facebook picture, how quickly the batteries die in the TV remote, missing out on yet another two-for-one sale on hand sanitizer—chances are you don’t have much going on in your life..."
Mark suggests just picking a few big things--values and people that reflect your values: "What I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values."
Much of life is about solving problems. They are inevitable, and we shouldn't pretend that we can make them go away. The author has no kind words for those embracing victimhood: "People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good, while solving problems is hard and often feels bad."
On a serious note, the author relates a horrific experience from his youth, when a drunken friend took a dare, jumped into a lake and drowned. "The most transformational moment of my life occurred when I was nineteen years old." This tragedy led to a determination to change the direction of his life, and figure out what is most important: "Oddly, it was someone else’s death that gave me permission to finally live. And perhaps the worst moment of my life was also the most transformational."
The last part of the book has a serious tone--quite different in tone than the first part of the book. This part of the book is more philosophical. The author refers often to a book, "The Denial of Death," (which became a Pulitzer Prize winner.) In serious, heartfelt chapters, the author reflects on human existence, and our search for meaning in life.
All in all, I found THE SUBTLE ART to be a fascinating read. The author writes well, and the book is easy to follow. Don't be fooled by the title, however, a lot of this book is very serious.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of Edelweiss.
(1) Choosing what to care about; focusing on the things/problems that are actually meaningful/important (= "giving a f*** about the right things")
(2) Learning to be fine with some negative things; always aiming for positivity isn't practical, and is stressful in itself
(3) Taking responsibility of your own life; it's good for your self-esteem not to keep blaming the circumstances for your problems
(4) Understanding the importance of honesty and boundaries, especially in relationships
(5) Identity; it might a good idea not to commit strongly to any special identity such as "an undiscovered genius", because then any challenges will make you fear the potential loss of that identity you've clinged to
(6) Motivation; how to improve it by accepting failure and taking action
(7) Death; how learning to be more comfortable with one's own mortality can make it easier to live
The first 20% of this book were a little bit boring to read, but after that, the experience was very absorbing. Just like Manson's previous book (Models), I will give this one five stars.
(BTW this book wasn't as humorous as I expected. It was much more a serious than a funny book to read. The final chapters, discussing the acceptance of death, made me actually a little bit tense and distressed.)