Do I have your attention now? I know the title is a little abrupt… but it caught my eye while we were traveling to Chicago last weekend. This book had been recommended to me, but I didn’t get the chance to dive in until recently – and I watched the documentary on the plane. Spoiler alert: it kicks a$$.
This book (and movie) is like a master class in life, teaching you essential lessons about being mindful of your time, energy, emotions, and thoughts.
It challenges us to ask ourselves the questions that really matter –
Where should we focus our precious resources, and how can we live a more fulfilling life?
9 Learnings from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson is a self-help book that encourages readers to focus on what truly matters in life rather than wasting energy on things that don’t. The book has become popular since its release in 2016, making it onto the New York Times bestseller list.
Now that I’ve started to recover from a long, dark, and depressing few years battling chronic illness … I’ve started to think more about what happiness REALLY is and how I want to show up in this world.
There are 9 powerful concepts I’m taking away from Mark Manson – like standing firm on personal boundaries and embracing rather than running away from our imperfections—the life hacks revealed in these pages are worth their weight in gold!
So, suit up… Here is everything you need to know…
1. Don’t Try
The book starts with the idea that trying to be happy all the time is an unrealistic expectation, and it’s better to accept that life has ups and downs.
Manson argues that striving for constant happiness can actually make us more unhappy, as it creates a sense of failure when we inevitably experience negative emotions.
I can certainly relate to this – we can set such high expectations for ourselves that we never feel fulfilled, happy, or content. We keep chasing the next big thing and can’t escape the hamster wheel.
Instead, he suggests that we focus on what is meaningful to us and what we are willing to struggle for.
2. Happiness Is a Problem
To expand on the first point, Manson suggests that trying to be happy all the time is a flawed concept, and instead, we should focus on finding problems that we are willing to solve and that align with our values.
I kinda scoffed at this at first – but Manson argues that solving problems that matter to us can lead to a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
So he encourages us to go out and capture our own problems – because those are the ones that lead to us WANTING to solve them… instead of sitting back and playing the victim mentality in this thing called life.
What problem do you want to solve?
3. You Are Not Special
Manson suggests that the idea of being “special” or entitled to happiness is a harmful myth. He argues that everyone experiences problems and challenges and that it’s important to accept this reality in order to move forward.
I couldn’t agree with this MORE! It’s so easy to sit back on social media, scrolling past everyone’s beautiful filtered life, and start feeling bad about your own situation. The comparison trap is big, and we all fall into it. But I promise you. Everyone has their own sh*t they are dealing with – it just doesn’t make the highlight reel.
Manson also encourages readers to take responsibility for their own lives and to stop blaming others for their problems.
I read on a podcast recently something like, ‘It’s not your fault you were born into a poor and abusive family… but it is your fault that you are letting it keep you down the rest of your life”
We all have the power to change!
4. The Value of Suffering
Manson discusses the idea that suffering can be valuable and even necessary for growth and development. He suggests that we can learn from our struggles and that avoiding pain and discomfort can actually be detrimental to our well-being.
As much as I hate to hear this, he’s right. My therapist always tells me it’s ok to let the hurt in and that I need to ‘feel my feelings’ – I consider myself deeply connected, but I’ve gotten pretty good at scraping things under the emotional rug. We all do it!
Sometimes we need to sit with the pain to truly understand it. And Manson encourages readers to embrace discomfort and use it as a tool for personal growth.
How can you use your pain for purpose?
5. You Are Always Choosing
Manson argues that we are always making choices, even if we don’t realize it. The decision to get up today and go to work – that’s your choice. You don’t HAVE to go into the office, but you choose to. We also choose to stay in bad jobs, have bad relationships, or eat bad food. We always have a choice!!
Manson suggests that taking responsibility for our choices can give us a sense of control over our lives, even in difficult situations.
Part of my healing journey was deciding that I wasn’t going to take on the identity of a sick person any longer – I wasn’t going to be scared to start LIVING and decided it was time to be my best self NOW! I decided to be healthy, vibrant, and alive! (Sidenote: I still have bad days, and the pain creeps in – but I am choosing NOT to let it rule my life)
Manson also discusses the importance of accepting the consequences of our choices, both positive and negative.
So let me ask you, What are you choosing for yourself?
6. You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)
Manson explores the idea that our beliefs and opinions are often flawed and incomplete – which I completely agree with!
I once believed vegan was the only way to heal my body naturally and was on my high horse preaching it was the only way… but it’s not. There are many different healing journeys – and just because I found mine through animal-based foods, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s THE BEST way… it’s just my way. (For now!)
Manson suggests that we should be open to changing our minds and accepting that we don’t have all the answers. He also emphasizes the importance of questioning our own assumptions and beliefs.
“Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them” – Catching Fire.Suzanne Collins
7. Failure Is the Way Forward
We all try to avoid failing like it’s COVID-19, but Manson suggests that failure is inevitable in life and that it can be a valuable learning experience.
Let me repeat that – failing is inevitable!
I’ve been so scared to fail in life and that fear has kept me from new opportunities and adventures. If I’m being honest, I’m facing the idea of failing right now – I want to be a health & wellness blog writer, but I FEAR I’m not healthy, skinny, or the perfect picture of a typical wellness blogger.
Also, with my addictive personality, I’ve worked really hard to find balance in my fitness and food goals… So I don’t want to fall into this trap of thinking I need to appear perfect. I still want to have a glass of wine with my husband and eat chocolate occasionally.
But Manson argues that we should not be afraid of failure or other people’s opinions but rather embrace it and learn from it.
While I still struggle to leap, I’ve started asking myself this question: What’s the worst that could happen?
And the answer is simply, “Not much”
We must start viewing failure as an opportunity for growth rather than a source of shame or embarrassment.
8. The Importance of Saying No
This is easier said than done! But Manson discusses the importance of setting boundaries and saying no to things that don’t align with our values or goals.
To do this, we must start by outlining what are our goals and values, to begin with. I was just sharing at bible study today that my schedule has been filling up so much (now that I’m feeling healthier!) that I’ve started dropping the balls on my priorities – things like doing my morning devotional and journaling!
He argues that saying no can be empowering and can help us focus on what truly matters in our lives. Saying no can be a way of honoring our own time and energy.
9: … And Then You Die
This isn’t a new concept, but Manson shares the idea that life is finite and that we should make the most of the time we have.
A few weeks ago, I attended a funeral and wrote the post, The 5 Regrets to Avoid on Your Deathbed, which will make you stop and think…
How do I want to be remembered?
What is the legacy I want to leave behind?
Do my loved ones know JUST how much I love them?
In some ways, I feel like I’ve been given a second chance… no, I wasn’t truly on my deathbed, but a part of me was dead, battling a chronic illness. While I don’t wish that experience on ANYONE, I do think it gave me an appreciation for what REALLY matters.
By embracing our own mortality, we can appreciate the present moment and focus on what is truly important to us.
The Wrap – 9 Learnings from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
To end, obviously, I have taken away a lot of insights from reading the book by Mark Manson. (And I hope you did too!)
I am still in the process of internalizing these learnings and putting them into practice. I’m not perfect and certainly have a lot of learning to do in my next 40 years+
Nevertheless, this book/documentary has already had a great impact on how I think about life as it relates to energy and focus. And it underscores being conscious of where I am expending my energy, allowing myself to let go of some things that might not be worth my efforts, and recognizing what will truly make me happy!
P.S. The book is sold everywhere – you can find it on Amazon here. And the documentary is playing right now on Apple TV! (I would love to hear what you think!)