The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Book Review

Here is my summary. Loved the book every page, every word.

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” is a bizarre name for a book to begin with. When you glance at the 7.5K comments a majority of who have recommended the book, there are about 5% who absolutely ostracized. This is a review that joins the 95%. I found the usage of the f-word most suitable in every case in point, whether the author, Mark Manson chose to insert it at his own bidding or what he learned from some hard-hitting lessons. This book truly is not about ‘not giving a fuck’ but giving a fuck about what that matters. It is not about being positive and regaling transcendental meditation but talks about an educated (what he calls counter intuitive) approach to living a good life. It is definitely not about life-threatening or death situations. Well, at least that is my interpretation. The 204+ pages are effortless read and untainted pleasure.

We live in a society where someone or the other is constantly trying to establish themselves better than the others. Then it becomes a rat race. It is easy to fall into the trap and be agonized not to while setting your own standards. For unmet expectations thereon, we fall back on sentiments of being positive and removal of negative thoughts. During this pursuit we spend so much energy and time. The overall affect is still a complete waste even if you feel you’ve come out a better person. Instead, the first lesson is to be accepting of one-self to be different which eliminates that bogus competition and helps us focus on what truly matters to us. In any case, we always have control on what we choose.

The age and time we are it very problematic. If is not one problem, there is always another problem. When we see people who are happy or pretend to be, we are so envious that we want to be happy too. But happiness truly is not the solution. Solving problems are. We are overcome by life and choose to evade problems. They pile up and there is no way we can avoid that. There is nothing called having no problems, at least in our average lives. Thus happiness is a sentiment that is work-in-progress and not an outcome. In our mind, if we are able to revolutionize that thought by prioritizing out problems, being open to feedback and constantly improving how we solve for problems, true happiness follows. May be in it satisfaction or may be it is removal of problems one at a time; life definitely becomes easy.

Thirdly, we are not special. We may think we are but we not and are just a smidgeon in the ether. When things fall apart, we are soon to say, “why me”. But think about it, “why not”. People who feel entitled, victimized, and forever cursing why the stars are not aligned quickly fall off the radar. In this overfeed of information, we come across news, people, situations that are extraordinary and make us feel very miniscule, ordinary, average and non-competitive. When we delve deep into that thought, anything extraordinary, ordinary or below gets us to the same outcome albeit at different times. That is again what are able to control by accepting what we are truly capable of doing.

Self-awareness is a much underutilized dexterity. When we keep probing into ourselves for this, we uncover blind spots, our ability to react to certain emotions a certain way or not, and our methods of getting to the root-cause, the definitions of success or failure, our acceptance criteria and several other things very intricate to our own. Many of us who have not achieved that nirvana have a hard time re-calibrating ourselves, course correcting or questioning our intent. Those of us who have set realistic expectations that make us happy, how well we understand opportunities and turn them into our favor, how we confront our inner fears and simply self-improve is sometimes the crux of our day, week, month, year or lifetime.

The art of choosing is not easy. The choices that are close to our heart may necessarily not bring success the way we define it. We are faced by doubt, fears, disorientation on what to choose and what not. For anything not in our favor, whether be a tragedy or genetic disorder is not what we choose for ourselves but we can always strive for how it may impact us. The most touching story in this segment was of the choices made by Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai who chose to raise her hand to be shot in the head by saving the lives of other girls. Ultimately, it was a choice and we are always choosing.

We are architects of our own belief. If there is something that threatens our existence or that what changes us, we are quick to avoid it. For the mostly successful, the thought of new endeavors where there are variables is scary. The perception of failure impacts us more than failure itself. But, as Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an uneducated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” We should if not anything pursue thoughts in our head and ensure we are making a calculated decision. Whether we fail or succeed after, really does not matter. Because someone, somewhere has to be wrong and there is nothing wrong that we are always wrong.

There is a saying, “If you don’t know what to do; do nothing.” This quote was time and again proven wrong in this book. If we just sit there and not act, we will regret that we have not tried. If we are not motivated enough to take action, there is nothing that will take us forward in life. Even amidst dire situations, there is always a small part that each of must play to ensure the perpetuation of this ethos. Hence, self-inspiration is key to self-preservation. Even if is a failure, it still moves you forward.

Generations before us and ahead of us have always been people pleasers. In that quest, we have lost our ability to function as free people. Because we are constantly catering to other people’s successes, metrics and notions. The moral in this chapter was that we need to learn to free through commitment i.e. defining our thresholds and our ability to say no to that what doesn’t come passionately or willingly. This commitment makes decision-making easier because we are no longer distracted by what doesn’t matter to us but what truly. There is no stress about making mistakes because we are doing it on our own and not force.

It is very easy for humans to conceptualize about every situation except death. We are in constant denial of it and that it is inevitable makes us even more uncomfortable. And in many ways scary too. But we seem to be working hard in our life to ensure that our legacy is carried over in our death. In ways that we are actually seeking immortality. The rigmarole of success seeking events make us miss the very feeling of being alive, feeling alive. We miss so many amazing moments in the pretext of taking selfies for instance. What use are those when we are dead when we cannot appreciate our current life, our present and the moments we are taking in.

Mark Manson, the author is an avid blogger, self-help author, master of self-deprecating humor and a realist.

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