#2 – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson
It’s New Year’s Day – When we all look at ourselves as big ol failures and vow to BE BETTER and DO BETTER in the year to come. Well. F*ck that is what I say. I don’t want to look back on 2017, picking apart all the areas that I wasn’t good enough and then make goals for 2018. NO! I’m NOT doing it this year!
Here’s a little book review of a great book I read this year that helped me consider what in my life I was giving a f*ck about. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is in my top 3 reads of 2017! Enjoy!
(You can read my other book review of 2017 here)
“No truly happy person feels the need to stand in front of the mirror and recite that she’s happy. She just is.” Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Ok. Ok. This may not be toootally fair. Many people need to start a journey of self-acceptance with some intentional hard work – but eventually, we have to let go of what we are lacking and just live! Moving on from trauma by draping oneself in the persona of a survivor may not be truly healing. Embracing your body in all it’s grandeur by telling the world on a daily basis you love yourself despite your fat, cellulite, stretch marks… it just doesn’t sound that accepting. I like how Mark said that our search for money, health, happiness, self-acceptance can laser in on what we feel we are lacking, highlight it, spotlight it so that we continue to see what we are LACKING vs what we are striving for…
Stop giving so many F*CKS!
“Our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealistically positive expectations: Be happier. Be healthier. Be the best, better than the rest. Be smarter, faster, richer, sexier, more popular, more productive, more envied, and more admired.” Mark Manson
Our society is based on making us give f*cks about TOO MUCH!!! I’m lookin’ at YOU advertising and marketing.
What I loved about The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck is that it’s about truly deciding what you DO give a f*ck about. I mean, not giving a f*ck about anything… that would be unhealthy. On the other end of the spectrum, we can give f*cks about TOO many things – if we don’t have meaning in our lives, we will give too many f*cks about things that are quite petty. Also, if we have to scream from the rooftops that we don’t give a f*ck about – our family member that hurt us, the job that we are dissatisfied with, we can’t get up the stairs without breathing heavy – I can’t help but think you DO give a f*ck… and are ya doin’ anything about these problems if you say you don’t care? Hmmm?
“The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.” Mark Manson
But I’m supposed to be HAPPY!
As a society, we are SO preoccupied with being HAPPY that when we feel anxious, stressed, angry – it freaks us out. I’m not SUPPOSED to FEEL BAD! I’m failing at life. I must be doing it wrong!!! Mark talks about the bane of existence as humans is our ability to think about our thinking… it’s the feedback loop from hell. This is also called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in my social work world… What we THINK affects how we FEEL, which affects our BEHAVIOUR, which affects how we THINK… round and round we go.
So if we notice our heart rate increasing and our palms getting sweaty – we may THINK to ourselves “Oh my god! I’m getting anxious… OH NO… ” – which leads us to FEELING anxious – which may lead us to BEHAVIOURS such as avoiding what we perceive has causing our anxiety (public speaking, paperwork, that person you want to ask out) – which then leads you to THINKING “Oh my god, I’m such a loser for being anxious and not being able to do what I want to do” – which leads to FEELING more anxiety.
Yup, Feedback loop from HELL!
Life is suffering – Buddha (and Mark)
I saw a great mermaid pin on instagram this week that said “Shit doesn’t have to make sense” (leissewilcox – she also has a great blog). We feel bad – meh, who gives a f*ck. That doesn’t mean just float through life without tackling problems… it’s just means don’t panic! Mark makes explains this “life is suffering” concept by introducing us to the Buddha and his story. We all got problems. We all struggle. We all feel bad. All good, man. Congrats! You’re normal! Pain is information… a call to action. It’s healthy. So don’t freak out, listen closely and ACT.
“Happiness comes from solving problems – not from the lack of problems.” Mark Manson
Mark says that happiness comes from solving problems – not from the lack of problems. Can I just say I love this??? So. Good. He also said that happiness is a form of action, it’s an activity, not something bestowed upon you. Negative emotions get us fixing, positive emotions are your reward for fixing.
So if life is struggling – what struggles are you willing to accept into your life? What’s worth it? If you want romantic love, are you willing to compromise and think of another person’s needs? If you want kids, are you willing to change diapers, go without sleep, worry about someone else the rest of your life? If you want that prestigious job, are you willing to work and sacrifice for it? If you think you will be happy/happier “when”… when you get a house, when you find a life partner, when you get that promotion… you are WRONG… you’ll just have “new” problems – better problems, but problems none-the-less.
The Tyranny of Exceptionalism
I think one of the issues I had with the book You Are A Badass is this idea of exceptionalism. Mark speaks to it really well in The Subtle Art. I had to laugh at Mark when he spoke about the world telling us each individually that we are extraordinary. I pictured Oprah yelling and pointing – “YOU are extraordinary” “YOU are extraordinary” “YOU and YOU and YOU!”. But? How? How can we ALL be EXTRAordinary? Hrmmmmmmm….
Naw man, I’m just ordinary. I’m not THAT badass. I’m just average… doin’ badass thangs from time to time. As I’ve said before… I’m really not that great at anything. I’m middle of the road at many things. I was an average student. I’m an average athlete. I’m an average artist. I’ve embraced my middle bell curve status.
“When a culture’s standard of success is to “be extraordinary,” it then becomes better to be at the extreme low end of the bell curve than to be in the middle, because at least there you’re still special and deserve attention. Many people choose this strategy: to prove to everyone that they are the most miserable, or the most oppressed, or the most victimized.” Mark Manson
Oh man. Did I ever see this with many clients I’ve worked with in my social work career. If we feel like average is a failure, then we may as well fail with flair. Why try to achieve greatness and fail, when we can just NOT try… and fail spectacularly? If only they knew they don’t have to be AWESOME… they just have to be AVERAGE! Does it ever take the pressure off! YOU are enough. Just YOU. As you are. YOU trying to be the best average you can be!
How the heck do we decide WHAT to give f*cks about?
It starts with knowing our values… and Mark is clear that it’s easy to have shitty values which can lead us down the wrong road of f*cks. Shitty values include: Pleasure, Material success, Always being right (We can only strive to be less wrong… vs right… and does being right matter? Is it truly what we value?), Staying positive (When we force ourselves to stay positive at all times, we deny the existence of our life’s problems. And when we deny our problems, we rob ourselves of the chance to solve them and generate happiness).
My clients and family would most likely say that my tombstone will read “The only person you can change is yourself”. Mark speaks of Taking Responsibility as the first step to solving our problems. Yup! I agree. Yes, we may not have caused all the problems in our lives… but the only person that can tackle them is ourselves. Even when traumas happen in our lives, awful sad terrible things, it’s still up to us to grow from trauma… or wither on the vine. Remember that it’s ok to feel terrible – moving forward in our lives does not mean we have to shove all our pain to the side… it just means feeling it all, while continuing to LIVE.
- Figure out what you want to give f*cks about… but give a f*ck about less & more about what’s truly important.
- Life is suffering – all feelings have value, so stop freaking out if you feel ‘bad’.
- Happiness comes from solving problems – not from the lack of problems.
- We’re all average! Average is not failure. Embrace your ordinariness and just try to improve yourself vs. strive to be extraordinary!
- Figure out if your values are sound, as your f*cks are based on these values.
- The only person you can change is yourself. Take responsibility for your problems.
There are SO many more messages I really liked in this book. I enjoyed how the concepts were presented, even if the information was not new to me per se. I definitely recommend this book. What will YOU give a f*cks about this year?