The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
Much of the writing in THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING is tongue-in-cheek. Surprisingly, however, there is a lot in this book that is SERIOUS. I know, I know, with a title like that, it's hard to believe, but it's true. Mark Manson actually makes quite a few substantive, helpful points.
Mark makes it clear that he's NOT saying you should not care about anything. Not at all. What he is saying is that you should pick carefully WHICH things you care about:
"This book will help you think a little bit more clearly about what you’re choosing to find important in life and what you’re choosing to find unimportant."
He's not suggesting we should be indifferent; rather, carefully deciding where to place our concern.
How you pick your top concerns has practical consequences. Mark gives a real-world example about a cranky person in the check-out line at the market. The elderly customer is making a big fuss about some minor thing. Why? Because they don't have anything else to occupy their time. If you don't have anything substantive to occupy your time, then it's trivial stuff that bothers you:
"Your ex-boyfriend’s new Facebook picture, how quickly the batteries die in the TV remote, missing out on yet another two-for-one sale on hand sanitizer—chances are you don’t have much going on in your life..."
Mark suggests just picking a few big things--values and people that reflect your values: "What I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values."
Much of life is about solving problems. They are inevitable, and we shouldn't pretend that we can make them go away. The author has no kind words for those embracing victimhood:
"People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good, while solving problems is hard and often feels bad."
On a serious note, the author relates a horrific experience from his youth, when a drunken friend took a dare, jumped into a lake and drowned.
"The most transformational moment of my life occurred when I was nineteen years old." This tragedy led to a determination to change the direction of his life, and figure out what is most important: "Oddly, it was someone else’s death that gave me permission to finally live. And perhaps the worst moment of my life was also the most transformational."
The last part of the book has a serious tone--quite different in tone than the first part of the book. This part of the book is more philosophical. The author refers often to a book, "The Denial of Death," (which became a Pulitzer Prize winner.) In serious, heartfelt chapters, the author reflects on human existence, and our search for meaning in life.
All in all, I found THE SUBTLE ART to be a fascinating read. The author writes well, and the book is easy to follow. Don't be fooled by the title; a lot of this book is very serious.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of Edelweiss. Photos courtesy of Pexels.