The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Table of Content

📃 Book Details

Author: Mark Manson
Genre: Self-help book
Original language: English
Pages: 224
Originally published: 13 September 2016

🚀 Book wrap-up

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**ck is a self-help book that takes on a seemingly counterintuitive approach to living a good life. It tries to lift us off social and mental burdens that we all carry, burdens that are crushing our happiness. It liberates us to basically not give a f*ck about those things and focus on what matters to us.

🎨 Should you read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck?

I think yes!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck has a universal scope. It is about living a happy life, something everyone is striving for. By that logic, there shouldn’t be a reason why you shouldn’t read it.

The next question is, will you find it effective or convincing?
Despite the truth, you will have to read it to really know. I can say that what this book offers is indeed counterintuitive and not mainstream. I can assure you that whether or not this book will convince you, this book will provide a very challenging proposition that will intrigue you.

🔭 Review of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

I remember reading this book when I was in college. It was interesting but I stopped it midway. Years later, I’m reading it again. To my surprise, I was shocked by reading it. It was revelationary! What I just passively read years back this time clicked. I understood what was written in this book. Of all the books that I have read, this is the one that was addressing the question that I was struggling with. I now realize that there is a time for reading some books as well.

There will be a book that will make you feel like this book was written just for you. For me, this was that book. Tailored for my quarter-life crisis! For me, this book was funny, fresh and 1000% real. I couldn’t have read it at a more perfect time. I had the context that was needed for reading this book.

At the end of the day, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a straightforward, easy read, fairly simple book that honestly talks about the realities of life. Whether it appeals to you can’t be certain but it is worth a read!

📒 My Book Notes of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

CHAPTER 1: Don’t Try

The perfect life story that society ingrains in us make us want to be popular, successful, richer, and healthier when we look at it giving us reason to compare ourselves with others only to fixate on what we lack. Our failure to meet that ideal self.

The world is constantly telling you that the path to a better life is more, more, more. The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.

The Feedback Loop from Hell

Now if you feel like shit for even five minutes, you’re bombarded with 350 images of people totally happy and having amazing fucking lives, and it’s impossible to not feel like there’s something wrong with you.

The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Not giving a fuck doesn’t mean that you develop a serene indifference to everything, who is shaken by nothing and caves into no one. That will only make you a psychopath.

Subtlety #1: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.

Subtlety #2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.

Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.

So Mark, What the Fuck Is the Point of This Book Anyway?

This book will not teach you how to gain or achieve, but rather how to lose and let go. It will teach you to take the inventory of your life and scrub out all but the most important items. It will teach you to close your eyes and trust that you can fall backward and still be okay. It will teach you to give fewer fucks. It will teach you to not try.

CHAPTER 2: Happiness Is a Problem.

  • *Happiness is not a solvable equation. Dissatisfaction and unease are inherent parts of human nature and, as we’ll see, necessary components to create consistent happiness.

The Misadventures of Disappointment Panda

Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of the next one.

Don’t hope for a life without problems, There’s no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems.

Happiness Comes from Solving Problems

Happiness doesn’t magically appear when you finally make enough money to add that extra room to the house. You don’t find it waiting for you in a place, an idea, a job—or even a book, for that matter.

Happiness is a constant work-in-progress. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.

Emotions Are Overrated

Emotions evolved for one specific purpose: to help us live and reproduce a little bit better. That’s it. They’re feedback mechanisms telling us that something is either likely right or likely wrong for us—nothing more, nothing less. An obsession and overinvestment in emotion fail us for the simple reason that emotions never last. Whatever makes us happy today will no longer make us happy tomorrow, because our biology always needs something more. A fixation on happiness inevitably amounts to a never-ending pursuit of “something else”—a new house, a new relationship, another child, another pay raise. And despite all of our sweat and strain, we end up feeling eerily similar to how we started: inadequate.

Choose Your Struggle

Everybody enjoys what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy, and easy life, fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships.

Everybody wants that. It’s easy to want that.

A more interesting question, a question that most people never consider, is, “What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?” Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that come with living inside a gym for hour upon hour unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, and planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.

CHAPTER 3: You Are Not Special

Some people become so fixated on feeling good about themselves that they manage to delude themselves into believing that they are accomplishing great things even when they’re not. They feel entitled to success, love, fame, and recognition. They will deny reality until it is impossible to ignore.

Things Fall Apart

there’s no such thing as a personal problem. If you’ve got a problem, chances are millions of other people have had it in the past, have it now, and are going to have it in the future. Likely people you know too. That doesn’t minimize the problem or mean that it shouldn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean you aren’t legitimately a victim in some circumstances.

It just means that you’re not special.

The Tyranny of Exceptionalism

Most of us are not exceptional. If you are exceptional at one thing, you will be pretty shitty at other things. Being exceptional is a lifelong task that is virtually impossible to do in every field.

But social media provides us a constant stream of unrealistic media dogpiles onto our existing feelings of insecurity, by overexposing us to the unrealistic standards we fail to live up to. Not only do we feel subjected to unsolvable problems, but we feel like losers because a simple Google search shows us thousands of people without those same problems.

B-b-b-but, If I’m Not Going to Be Special or Extraordinary, What’s the Point?

Being “average” has become the new standard of failure. The worst thing you can be is in the middle of the pack, the middle of the bell curve. All that is shoved down our throats is that we all deserve greatness. But all of us can’t be great. If all are great, then by itself becomes a new normal.

Once you lift your craving to be exceptional, you will have a growing appreciation for life’s basic experiences: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, and laughing with someone you care about.

CHAPTER 4: The Value of Suffering

Suffering for a cause makes the suffering endurable. It gives meaning to the fight.

The Self-Awareness Onion

The first level is identifying your emotions. The second level is the ability to ask why we feel certain emotions. The third level is identifying our personal values that decide our behavior.

Shitty Values

There are a handful of common values that create really poor problems for people

  1. Pleasure.
  2. Material Success
  3. Always Being Right.
  4. Staying Positive

These are values that if you prioritize in life cause just problems. The point is to nail down some good values and metrics, and pleasure and success will naturally emerge as a result. These things are side effects of good values. By themselves, they are empty highs.

Defining Good and Bad Values

Good values are 1) reality-based, 2) socially constructive, and 3) immediate and controllable. 
Bad values are 1) superstitious, 2) socially destructive, and 3) not immediate or controllable.

Honesty is a good value because it’s something you have complete control over, it reflects reality, and it benefits others (even if it’s sometimes unpleasant).

Popularity, on the other hand, is a bad value. If that’s your value, and if your metric is being the most popular guy/girl at the dance party, much of what happens will be out of your control

CHAPTER 5: You Are Always Choosing

When we feel that we’re choosing our problems, we feel empowered. When we feel that our problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimized and miserable.

The Choice

We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us and how we respond.

The Responsibility/Fault Fallacy

We often think of responsibility and fault as the same thing. If it is your fault, you are responsible for it. It goes the other way as well. if you are responsible for it, if something goes wrong you are at fault. This works in most cases. But there are lots of situations where they are not in line.

If your girlfriend/boyfriend cheats on you, It is her/his fault. You would feel shit about it. But they are not responsible for how you feel. You are. They are not magically going to pop up and fix everything. You have to be responsible for your life and you have to get back and live your life.

Responding to Tragedy

Some tragedies just feel too painful for us to own up to. In the end, it wasn’t your fault but what can you do about it? You can’t change it. The pain of one sort or another is inevitable for all of us, but we get to choose what it means to and for us. Even claiming that you have no choice in the matter is a choice in itself.

Genetics and the Hand We’re Dealt

Try to see life as if it is a poker game where the cards are your genes. We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it’s easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choices we make with those cards, the risks we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they’re given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life. And it’s not necessarily the people with the best cards.

Victimhood Chic

The responsibility/fault fallacy allows people to pass off the responsibility for solving their problems to others. This ability to alleviate responsibility through blame gives people a temporary high and a feeling of moral righteousness.

There Is No “How”

A lot of people might hear all of this and then say something like, “Okay, but how?

Do, or do not; there is no ‘how.’

But there will be some side effects when you try to change your values. You’ll feel uncertain; Next, you’ll feel like a failure. And certainly, you will weather rejections.

These are necessary, though painful, side effects of choosing to place your fucks elsewhere, in a place far more important and more worthy of your energies. But as we’ll see, this is a good thing.

CHAPTER 6: You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)

Many people become so obsessed with being “right” about their life that they never end up living it.

A man doesn’t ask for a promotion because he would have to confront his beliefs about what his skills are worth. He would blame his boss for being ignorant. He would never test his beliefs.

Architects of Our Own Beliefs

Most of our beliefs are wrong. Or, to be more exact, all beliefs are wrong—some are just less wrong than others. The human mind is a jumble of inaccuracy.

Be Careful What You Believe

There’s a lot of conventional wisdom out there telling you to “trust yourself,” “go with your gut,” and all sorts of other pleasant-sounding clichés. But perhaps the answer is to trust yourself less. After all, if our hearts and minds are so unreliable, maybe we should be questioning our own intentions and motivations more.

The Dangers of Pure Certainty

The only way to solve our problems is to first admit that our actions and beliefs up to this point have been wrong and are not working.

Manson’s Law of Avoidance

The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.

Don’t find yourself, never know who you are. Because that’s what keeps you striving and discovering. And it forces you to remain humble in your judgments and accepting of the differences in others.

Kill Yourself

Buddhism argues that your idea of who “you” are is an arbitrary mental construction and that you should let go of the idea that “you” exist at all.

We are narcists that think we are exceptions. Stop thinking you are special and give up all the grandiose ideas about yourself. These are emotional highs we have given ourselves, but we are better off without them.

How to Be a Little Less Certain of Yourself

Questions to be a little uncertain.

  • What if I’m wrong?
  • What would it mean if I were wrong?
  • Would being wrong create a better or a worse problem than my current problem, for both myself and others?

CHAPTER 7: Failure Is the Way Forward

The Failure/Success Paradox

If you think about a young child trying to learn to walk, that child will fall down and hurt himself hundreds of times. But at no point does that child ever stop and think, “Oh, I guess walking just isn’t for me. I’m not good at it.” Our education and our parents made us frightened of failures.

We can be successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.

Pain Is Part of the Process

In a psychological study of World War 2 survivors, many described their lives before the war as if they’d been different people then: ungrateful for and unappreciative of their loved ones, lazy and consumed by petty problems, entitled to all they’d been given. After the war, they felt more confident, more sure of themselves, more grateful, and unfazed by life’s trivialities and petty annoyances.

The “Do Something” Principle

If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.

CHAPTER 8: The Importance of Saying No

Rejection Makes Your Life Better

Honesty is a natural human craving. But part of having honesty in our lives is becoming comfortable with saying and hearing the word “no.” In this way, rejection makes our relationships better and our emotional lives healthier.


“Boundaries” means the delineation between two people’s responsibilities for their problems. People in healthy relationships with strong boundaries will take responsibility for their values and problems and not take responsibility for their partner’s values and problems. People in a toxic relationship with poor or no boundaries will regularly avoid responsibility for their problems and/or take responsibility for their partner’s problems.

How to Build Trust

Trust is like a china plate. If you break it once, with some care and attention you can put it back together again. But if you break it again, it splits into even more pieces and it takes far longer to piece together again. If you break it more and more times, eventually it shatters to the point where it’s impossible to restore. There are too many broken pieces and too much dust.

Freedom Through Commitment

Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous. It gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most efficient at making you healthy and happy. Commitment makes decision-making easier and removes any fear of missing out; knowing that what you already have is good enough, why would you ever stress about chasing more, more, more again? Commitment allows you to focus intently on a few highly important goals and achieve a greater degree of success than you otherwise would.

CHAPTER 9: . . . And Then You Die

Something Beyond Our Selves

The book “The Denial of Death” by Becker essentially makes two points:

  1. Humans are unique in that we’re the only animals that can conceptualize and think about ourselves abstractly.
  2. Becker’s second point starts with the premise that we essentially have two “selves.” The first self is the physical self. The second self is our conceptual self.

Becker later came to a startling realization on his deathbed: that people’s attempt at immortality by somehow extending the conceptual self is the problem. We should learn to accept death thus enabling us to choose our values more freely, unrestrained by the illogical quest for immortality, and freed from dangerous dogmatic views.

The Sunny Side of Death

Arguably the only truly important question in our life is How will the world be different and better when you’re gone? What mark will you have made? What influence will you have caused?

💯 My Rating


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