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January Review: ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’

Anyone who spoke to me within the last few weeks will have heard me non-stop banging on about the most recent book I was reading: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. For years, I have been into reading self-help books, and I would consider myself a fairly positive person. Nevertheless, the thing that I loved about Manson’s book was his counterintuitive approach to living a happy, rich life. Essentially, he believes that positive thinking is not the key. The secret to life is to stop caring about everything and instead invest energy into hobbies, relationships and career goals that truly matter. In other words, the secret to getting more out of life is by focusing on less, but then getting more out of each thing. I thought I would share the main points I took away from Manson’s book and hopefully inspire some of you to pick up his book, as it is hands down one of the best non-fictions that I have read to date. 

What are you willing to struggle for?

One of the main things Manson’s book helped me with was learning to put into perspective what I find important in life. From there, to take every step possible to maximise my time, energy, and effort into those things. Whilst reading the book, I realised that the things that matter most to me are my relationships, contributing to my community and growth.  

Manson beautifully articulated something which I believe that we are all subconsciously aware of but may not necessarily realise. It is the fact that no matter what we choose to do in life, we will have to make sacrifices, compromises and overcome hurdles. Therefore, in order to focus our minds, we should ask ourselves: 

  1. What pain do I want in my life? 
  2. What am I willing to struggle for? 
  3. What do I truly want to get out of life?

Whether we decide to go to university, be an entrepreneur, or enter a new relationship, we are going to face adversities. Nothing in life is easy, so you need to choose the things which will make the pain you go through worth it in the end. 

The Backwards Law 

Manson states, “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.” 

Living in self-delusion

Majority of us live our lives in a state of self-delusion, trying to convince ourselves that we are happy in a toxic relationship or that we enjoy our dull 9 to 5 office job. Does the self-delusion advocated by most self-help books actually hinder action? Since reading Manson’s book, I have felt encouraged to take a more head-on, realistic approach to life’s adversities. Self-denial means that you never confront your situation, fears, flaws, or uncertainties. However, since accepting myself and situation I have started to tackle life with resilience and actually do something about things I feel dissatisfied with. Since changing my mindset in this regard, I have realised that I am getting more out of every aspect of my life. 

Seeing life for what it is

Being open with your insecurities paradoxically makes you more confident and charismatic around others. The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships. Friendship is a sharing of vulnerability, and in order to feel truly satisfied, you have to learn to open up to people. 

Reversing your mindset

The power of your mind is incredible and should never be underestimated. Manson discusses how to grow from your past circumstances to become a better person, as opposed to becoming a victim of your situation and feeling sorry for yourself. 

He advocates turning pain into a tool, trauma into power and problems into things you can grow from. The emotional pain of rejection or failure teaches you to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Reversing my mindset to see every rejection as a redirection as well as an opportunity to grow and become a more resilient person has truly altered the way I perceive my life. 

Hedonism vs. long term pleasure

Manson uses his personal experiences in life to outline how in the past, he was inherently a hedonist. He used to chase immediate pleasures through drinking, hook-ups and an unhealthy diet which felt good in the short-term, but in the long-term left him feeling dissatisfied. Since experiencing the greater value of investing energy into long-term relationships and focused goals, he has started advocating this way of life. The fulfilment from working on one project, relationship or goal will always be far greater than chasing many meaningless things for shorter periods. 

The overarching lesson

Essentially, the main message I took away from Manson’s book was to start setting high standards, focus on what is genuinely worthwhile and to stop settling for less. To do so required some serious introspection and evaluation on what I deemed to be important and meaningful. Since doing so, I have realised that with every step I take and decision I make, I now seriously consider whether it aligns with my morals, values, and aspirations. 

I really hope that this has inspired you to pick up Manson’s book. It is hands down the best self-help book I have read, and I will continue to advocate the take-away message for as long as it takes for people to realise that this life is too short, and we need to invest our energy into the things which truly matter. 

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