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📙Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: Key Ideas, Notes and Summary
A counterintuitive approach to living a good life | Wisdom Letter #178
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Today we’re talking about Mark Manson’ book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
The biggest mis conception about this book is that people think it tells you to stop caring about things and live life like an arrogant prick.
While the fact is that this book wants you to care about the few things that actualy matter to you, and ignore everything else in life.
The apt title for this book should have been - The Subtle Art of Living a Meaningful Life.
But that wouldn’t have sold as many copies 😅
Still, it’s a fantastic the book about learning to live a more authentic, fulfilling life by being true to oneself and embracing the things that truly matter.
So let’s get into it 🚀
1. All Life is Suffering
This is a Budhist concept but Mark gives his own spin to it in the book.
(Dukkha is 1 of the 4 noble truths of Buddhism)
Fact is - whatever you do in life, it will be a struggle, so you need to find the struggle that’s right for you.
What’s your ultimate goal – the achievement you want written on your headstone?
There is no point looking for an easy life, one without adversity.
The only way you’ll get ahead is to find a goal that you want to struggle for.
However, it’s equally important to say no to all the struggles and tasks that don’t bring you joy.
Be ruthless and stop chasing the things in life that don’t make you happy.
Concentrate on the few great things – and don’t give a f*ck about everything else.
2. Happiness comes from solving problems
If you pretend you have no problems in life, you won’t be happy.
But if you also have problems in your life that you can’t solve, then also you won’t be happy.
The secret is to finding problems that you want to solve and which are within your capability of solving.
So don’t aspire for a life without pain, instead ask yourself -
“What pain do I want in life? What am I willing to struggle for?”
3. It’s all about the values
What you’re willing to struggle for is based on what kind of values you have in life.
If you value money, fame and glory, then you will struggle for that. And if you value peace, love and satisfaction, then you will struggle for thos values.
Shitty values can derail you on your path to happiness.
Consider pleasure, for instance.
Many people choose to make pleasure their priority in life.
And yet chasing pleasure above everything else isn’t healthy; in fact, it’s the central value of drug addicts, adulterers and gluttons
Another shitty value is using your material success as the yardstick for your life.
Whether it be hankering after a bigger car than your neighbor's or flashing your brand new Rolex, this value is incredibly common, and you’ve probably bought into it at some point.
But it doesn't lead to improved well-being.
Studies have shown that once our basic needs in life are cared for, extra wealth doesn’t increase happiness.
And chasing wealth can even have a detrimental effect if we chose to pursue it over values like family, honesty or integrity.
Properties of good values:
Based in reality
Helpful to society
Have an immediate and controllable effect.
Properties of bad values:
Not immediate or controllable
A great example of good value is Honesty.
It’s based in reality, is useful to society and you can actually control it.
4. You’re always choosing
When you choose the problems or struggles you want to deal with in life, they seem much more acceptable and easier to deal with.
While if you feel like your problems are thrust upon you, without your control then that’s when you feel powerless and depressed.
The same problem can feel very different based on whether you got to choose it or not.
But the reality is that you are always choosing.
You can always choose to deal with a problem in life. Even when it’s thrust upon you, you can choose to deal with it, take responsibility for it.
Or you can get bogged down and give up on it.
Both are choices that you can make.
This is a subtle way to hack your brain.
When you choose to lean into suffering instead of trying to run away from it, you’re making it easier for yourself to deal with it.
1 of my mantras for this year is “Embrace Discomfort”
Favorite Quote from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
“Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.
People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who run triathlons and have chiseled abs and can bench-press a small house.
People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who fly to the top of it.
People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainties of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it”
- Mark Manson
There are more insightful gems and ideas mentioned in the book. Do read it, or at least read it’s 15 minute summary on Blinkist.
I’ve been enjoying these summaries a lot lately.
They are especially great when you want to go back to a book you read a while back, or you want to filter your next book to read.
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Thank you for reading.
Hope this post gave you a few ideas about how to live a more meaningful life.
Next week we will return with an interesting book about having the right mindset to live a good life - Mindset by Carol Dweck.
We will distill the most important ideas from that book in less than 5 minutes of reading time for you.
So keep an eye out for that email.
And if you missed it, make sure to read last week’s post -
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