BOOK REVIEW: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Mark Manson is an American blogger and author.

Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (2016) is that book many of us will judge by its cover, or the F-word in the title puts some of us off? 

However, the book is worth anyone’s time, in my view. You, too, should read it… if you haven’t already. You will thank me later.

It’s a must read for anyone struggling to live a balanced life, and especially those of us wasting time and attention on things that hold little to no value to our lives at the expense of those that matter a great deal. 

In particular, the author imparts powerful lessons on “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.”

It is difficult, and takes discipline, he says. 

You need to not care at all about adversity in the face of your goals. You need to not give a shit about pissing some people off to do what you feel is right, important or noble.

“Because here’s another sneaky little truth about life,” Manson says. “You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and an embarrassment to others. You just can’t.”

He continues: If you find yourself consistently giving too many fucks about trivial shit 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 to give a legitimate fuck about. And that’s your real problem.

Enduring pain

In Manson’s view, the reason people have dreams that never come true, they are very much in love with the results, and not with the process. They want the reward and not the struggle. They want only the victory and not the fight.

They don’t pay attention to pains involved and are not prepared to endure it.

The lesson: To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate shit-tons of time and energy to it. And because we all have limited time and energy, few of us ever become truly exceptional at more than one thing, if anything at all.

The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe
they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they’re obsessed with
improvement. And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all.

Root of growth

Besides, uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth. As the old adage goes, a man who believes he knows everything learns nothing.

Manson tells us: 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. If someone is better than you at something, then it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have.

If someone is worse than you, it’s likely because he hasn’t been through all of the painful learning experiences you have.

If you think about a young child trying to learn to walk, that child will fall down and hurt itself hundreds of times. But at no point does that child ever stop and think, “Oh, I guess walking just isn’t for me. I’m not good at it.”

The MASS MEDIA that constantly expose us to stellar success after success, while not showing us the thousands of hours of dull practice and tedium that were required to achieve that success.

Mark Manson, American blogger and author

Avoiding failure is something we learn at some later point in life, from:

  • Our education system, which judges rigorously based on performance and punishes those who don’t do well.
  • Overbearing or critical parents who don’t let their kids screw up on their own often enough, and instead punish them for trying anything new or not preordained.
  • The MASS MEDIA that constantly expose us to stellar success after success, while not showing us the thousands of hours of dull practice and tedium that were required to achieve that success.

“Our culture today confuses GREAT ATTENTION and GREAT SUCCESS, assuming them to be the same thing. But they are not,” says Manson.

Mark Manson is an American blogger and author.

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