The The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck book starts with an anecdote about Charles Bukowski, the controvert novelist, picturing him as “an alcoholic, womanizer, a chronic gambler, a lout, a cheapskate, a deadbeat, and on his worst days, a poet”.
The author, Mark Manson, continues to tell how Bukowski wished to be a writer but was rejected several times by “almost every magazine, newspaper, journal agent, and publisher he submitted to”
Manson later described how Bukowski drowned his madness and the weight of his failures deep into alcohol-fueled depression.
Not really a motivational way to start a book, eh?
Choose what to care about
But Mark Manson knew how to apply reverse psychology here.
Let me tell you more about it…
Let’s say we take some stats in the cases of suicide around the world.
You would think that most suicides happen in the less developed countries, right?
As human species, we rationalize the fact that if we are around happy people, we have to feel miserable for ourselves.
The standard for a meaningful life increases with everyone doing so well and you barely struggling.
“Not Giving A F*ck Does Not Mean Being Indifferent; It Means Being Comfortable With Being Different.”
You may be surprised that countries like Moldova, Ukraine, Bulgaria have fewer attempts of suicide and the answer for this is clear: People are used to misery, and there are rare cases of success.
This is exactly the type of psychology we have here at the beginning of the book.
Learn to accept negative things to life
The author gives a bad example of a role model that “didn’t give a fuck about anything”.
The whole purpose of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck book is to distinguish the two types of impassive people.
People who know what they want and they are not going to listen to the “loud mouths” and ignorant individuals who have a huge ego and do not care about their past, present, and future.
Mark Manson is not telling you which side to take.
Instead, he creates a new stereotype that has combined attributes.
He takes the fact that we are lied to since we were born, that we have to think positive and get rich, live well, have a family, etc.
One of his quotes attack this idea: “Let’s be honest, shit is fucked and we have to live with it.”
Take responsibility of your life
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck book is fueled by academic research and well-timed poop jokes.
The author is trying to induce the idea that our lives do not depend on the ability to turn lemons into lemonade but rather learn how to stomach lemons better:
“There are so many things we can give a fuck about, so we need to figure out which ones really matter”.
You can take The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck as a book that will literally slap the hell out of the spoiled generation that is being rewarded with trophies just for showing up.
You may not share or agree with all of author’s insights or analysis but you will surely appreciate the effort he took to share his unique perspective with others.
Mark is a traveler into the realms of the complexity of being human.
Much of the book’s content will be tongue-in-cheek, but fine readers will be able to see through it and get the serious message.
To Not Give A Fuck About Adversity, You Must First Give A Fuck About Something More Important Than Adversity.
Having a title like that makes it hard to believe, but Manson is actually making quite a few substantive, helpful points.
He makes it clear that the ideology of not caring at all is wrong and that you should choose which things you should really 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.”
This is the most lovely thing about The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck book.
Despite the title and the introduction of Charles Bukowski as a model, the author continues to suggest that we should not be indifferent but rather careful when deciding where to place our concern.
A good part that is going to catch your eye is the example Mark gives, talking about a cranky person using the check-out line at the market.
There is an elderly customer that is nervous about some minor thing.
The message you can take from this is that your top concerns have practical consequences.
That individual does not have anything else to occupy his mind and time.
Having nothing to do makes trivial stuff bother 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…”
This is exactly what bothers most of us. We tend to recycle our real values and waste time on things that do not really matter. The author suggests picking a few big factors that are going to influence your life in a good way: values and people.
Accept failure, take action, is the way for self-motivation
When talking about values, he mentions discipline and self-respect while motivation is not on his list.
In his vision, motivation is temporary, something that comes and passes while discipline lasts forever.
People are going to influence your life.
There are people like Bukowski and Kurt Cobain…
…and there are people like Robin Williams.
Everyone has their flaws, doesn’t matter if you are kind, shy or nervous and very active.
The best advice you get is to take each person as an example, find his best attributes and his worst flaws and implement everything you need from that to get a better version of yourself.
“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.”
Manson sees life as mathematics, like solving a big problem.
The main problem is inevitable, and we can’t pretend that we can make it go away.
The author is very aggressive to 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.”
He doesn’t like excuses. People will always point fingers just to feel better about themselves, feeding their ego.
Not anyone is wise enough to admit he was wrong.
Hypocrisy is blamed for being one of our worst traits in this book, and sometimes you just can’t help it.
“We All Have A Limited Number Of Fucks To Give; Pay Attention To Where And Who You Give Them To.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck book takes a more serious manner when the author tells about a horrific experience from his young ages, when one of his friends drowned in a lake after he took a dare to jump in it while being drunk.
“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.”
Shocks are known to change a point of view.
But what happens when the shock is too much to handle?
Manson summons the memory lane and tells that only a shock that big can push you from behind and make you realize what is really important in your life.
Thinking that you can die at any moment can bring you only two things:
Severe panic disorder…
An amazing dedication to live any day as if it was your last.
As the book is coming to an end, the tone becomes more serious, quite different than the beginning.
The ending seems to be more philosophical with the author referring to a book, “The Denial of Death”.
The searching for the meaning of life is a strong point that is being discussed by Mark.
Our existence is also being questioned.
Overall, this is a beautiful piece of art and a fascinating read.
The book has simple but meaningful words, dark humor and an easy to follow story tell.
You can’t be fooled by the title because the content provides advice that is going to help you in your early stages in life if you are a young man or deciding what matters the most right now if you are old enough.
“F*ck positivity” -Mark Manson
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life:
Published on September 13, 2016
New York Times Bestseller
Purchase link on Amazon
Readers review on GoodReads
Best book quote: “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.”