Oppdatert: 23. nov. 2020
Now don’t get me wrong, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is by far one of the best reads I have encountered so far this year, and you should definitely pick it up if you get the chance. That being said, I have more than familiarized myself with the excuse: “Ohhh, I would totally read more, but I just don’t have the time”. Look, I get it, reading a self help book in the midst of exam revision, extracurriculars and getting that person’s number might not be amongst the most tempting ideas. Nonetheless, I have come to realize that The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck conveys certain ideas about life that would be beneficial for all of us to acknowledge. That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to convey the most crucial and pivotal concepts from the book in a condensed form that will suit a busy student’s schedule. You can thank me later.
Though seemingly in contrast to what is known as being “motivational” content in the world of self-help and personal improvement, Manson acknowledges that striving for happiness and prosperity just won’t give you the results that you seek. I know that this might sound counterintuitive, as we are all told at some point in our lives that we need to aim for the stars and land on the moon. Though sayings like these might seem persuasive at first glance, what they ultimately do is that they create delusional expectations for ourselves and the world that we live in, and I’ll tell you why:
“The desire for more positive experiences is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience”
Yes, you read that right. I know it can be a total mind-bender and I’ll let you have a moment to actually understand it. The idea of striving for positivity and how its experience can be seen as a negative one is brought forward by Manson as the backward law. What the backward law tells us about happiness, is that the more you actively pursue feeling better about yourself, the less satisfied you will become. How is that? Well, let’s say you want to become rich. What Manson says about this is that the more you aim to become rich the less happy you’ll be as the process itself only reinforces what you already lack in the first place. So, if reaching towards your goals is considered unreasonable in terms of happiness as it will only result in dissatisfaction, then what do you do? Manson has the answer.
“Ever notice that sometimes when you care less about something, you do better at it?”
Assuming that the backward law is correct, then it must imply that the law is applicable even if we reverse it. What this tells us now is that pursuing the negative will generate the positive. Manson provides a reasonable example of this when he talks about people pursuing pain when they head to the gym, and that the pain experienced will generate better all-around health and energy. Same thing goes for people in business settings and how failures are what lead to a better understanding of what needs to be done in order to succeed the next time around. Although Manson goes on about the different scenarios in which negative experiences generate the positive ones, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve gotten the point. So, instead of striving for the positive, we should all surrender to the “suck” and acknowledge that everything worthwhile in life is won through conquering the negative experience.
Choose your f*cks wisely
Lastly, and perhaps the most important part of the book is acknowledging that we all care about something, or as Manson likes to put it: we all give a f*ck about something. In general, it’s easier to care about something than it is to not care about something. This might seem obvious to you, and it did so for me as well, but what most of us then fail to realize is that the amounts of f*cks given is limited, and so we’ll have to distribute the f*cks not given wisely.
What most people envision as a person not giving a f*ck is someone laying on the couch with Dorito chips hanging off the corner of their mouth. But this isn’t necessarily the whole truth. As a matter of fact deciding what to not care about is an extremely subtle art-form that requires a significant amount of self-confrontation. Manson described not caring about something as acknowledging a range of subtleties such as identifying that not giving a f*uck does not mean being indifferent, it means being comfortable with being different. Manson also claims that in order to not care about something you’ll have to care about something you consider more important.
The essential moral of Mark Manson’s bestseller, it is that we always choose what to care about. In general, we are born with way too many f*cks to give and by learning what to not care about, you not only save your time and energy, but you mature. Additionally, by embracing the fact that life can be both unreasonable and difficult, one can generate the positive experiences better than what we would by always striving for the positive. It’s all about changing up your perspective. In fact, Manson’s book never aimed to show how to gain or achieve, but to lose and let go.