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The subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson

My Rating: 8 / 10

One of the areas of my life I have continually tried to work on is not concerning myself with what people think about me. It was a habit that I developed at school given I wanted to be ‘cool’ like my peers. I instead developed habits I wish I didn’t have and at times sacrifice aspects of my life for the betterment of others. When I saw this title and the abstract it resonated with me and I wanted to learn more.

Mason has written quite a thought provoking book that deals with many aspects of life in line with the theme of not giving a f*ck. By truly defining aspects of happiness, failure, choice, suffering and saying no coupled with stories and anecdotes from his life (and other literature) he puts many aspects of my life in perspective. Furthermore the amount of angst and fear of situations that result are now unjustified or questioned. It is refreshing to read an approach to life in this way versus the exposure I have had in earlier parts of my life.

The last chapter of the book was quite shocking yet thought provoking; it took the book to another level in my opinion. Manson writes about the death of a good friend and the impact it had on his life. After the initial depression of dealing with this situation he soon recovered. At the same time he began reading literature on the subject of physical living vs. conceptual living. In the conceptual world of living one wants to leave some sort of legacy. In the physical world, once you’re dead you leave nothing behind.

What is quite interesting is that when Manson is in the most compromising situation of his physical life, he feels that in the conceptual world he is the most clear and alive. Think about it this way: you’re on the edge of a cliff with one false move being the difference between life and death. In that moment you’re not worrying about the bills, nor what someone said about you nor even how you’re going to look in that next selfie. Instead you think about your life, what you have done, what you’re going to do and ultimately how you will be remembered; i.e. no bullshit but the truly important things. Manson says these moments give him the most clarity, focus and direction in life. Powerful stuff!

Three key takeaways from the book:

  1. In reality, if you think it is you versus the world, chances are it is more like you versus yourself.
  2. Manson is of the opinion that you should not find yourself but more importantly not know who you are. The art of being able to learn and discover yourself throughout your entire life keeps you humble in your judgments and accepting in the difference of others.
  3. When we feel like we are choosing our problems, we feel empowered. When the problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimised and miserable. In life we don’t always control what happens to us, however, we do control how we react to those situations.

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