The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Mark Manson

Book Notes

Our values are synonymous with our f*cks, and the art is our ability to decide what f*cks to give. Here are 4 considerations for choosing yours.

The opening of this book had me chuckling on the tube as I read it, triggering some strange looks from the London locals. There's shock to anything but misery on the underground. It opens with the observation that the calibration of Western values may be wrong. Our values are synonymous with our f*cks, and the art is our ability to decide what f*cks to give.

We only have a finite number of f*cks, so if we choose to spend them on the trivial, we have no space to spend them on the important. The paradox here is that to bring value to others we think we need to give our f*cks to everybody, and everything. Wrong. We need to carefully select our investments, increasing our impact through limiting our attention.

How do we choose our investments? The choice is driven by our value hierarchy, so we need to decide where our priorities lie. Here are some things to consider from the Picasso of f*ck choosing, Mark Manson.


Responsibility regardless of fault

We can often mix up responsibility and fault. Allowing fault to dominate disempowers you from accepting responsibility moving forward. Manson uses a great analogy to illustrate the difference between responsibility and fault. If somebody drops a baby on your doorstep and you find her, it isn't your fault, but it's your responsibility to stop her from freezing.

Taking responsibility for a situation regardless of who is at fault allows for constructive solutions, rather than getting out your tennis racquet and playing a rally of blame.

You're not special, and that's empowering.

It's easy to get so overwhelmed by our problems, thinking that we're alone in our suffering. When we become absorbed by our problems, we forget that millions of people are having similar experiences and emotions. We're not entitled to a problem-free life, nobody is.

It's empowering to know that everybody has problems for two reasons:

  1. If they can cope with their problems, so can you.
  2. They're too busy dealing with their problems to judge you, so be adventurous and try things. In most cases, people will either love you for it, or have too little time on their hands to comment that they don't.

Them vs you

Destructive values are often born out of overvaluing the perceptions of others. Making decisions based on what you think others admire in you, rather than what you admire in others. I always respect people who clearly couldn't give a f*ck about how they look. People that chose their outfit for them, not you.

Strive for struggle

We often make our decisions based on what will make us happy. Happy is really hard to define, let alone achieve. To reach any peak, it takes a great deal of suffering. Based on this, Manson suggests that we should make decisions based on what we're willing to suffer for, rather than what will make us happy.