The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson Summary
My notes are informal and often contain quotes, key nuggets, and personalized thoughts from the book. When I come across an interesting idea or concept while reading, I save it in my notes for future reference and reflection. If you find a book’s notes appealing, I highly recommend reading the whole book to get much more context and insight. My notes are not meant to substitute the book.
“Because here’s the thing that’s wrong with all of the “How to Be Happy” shit that’s been shared eight million times on Facebook in the past few years—here’s what nobody realizes about all of this crap: The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. This is a total mind-fuck. So I’ll give you a minute to unpretzel your brain and maybe read that again: Wanting positive experience is a negative experience; accepting negative experience is a positive experience. It’s what the philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backwards law”—the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.”
Seeking constant positivity is an act of avoidance because by continuously imposing positivity upon yourself, you’re denying the reality of life’s problems.
“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. “
Getting to the top is a continuous upward spiral with new problems and issues that you must face, accept, and appreciate.
The more something impends your identity, the more you will try to avoid it.
When a person has no problems, the brain finds a way to invent some.
Accepting your life experience as being outstanding regardless of past trauma, pain, or negativity is the single best thing you can probably do for your happiness.
“Don’t hope for a life without problems. Hope for a life with good problems.”
“Problems never stop. They merely get exchanged or upgraded.”
“Our lives today are filled with information from the extremes of the bell curve of human experience. The best of the best, worst of the worst, and most upsetting of the upsetting. We only see the most exceptional news stories because that’s what drives revenue. This is a real problem when it comes to comparison because you can only be exceptional in one thing and you’re going to be below average in nearly everything else. That makes comparison a very dangerous game to play.”
The more uncomfortable the answer, the more likely it is to be true.
You can’t be significant and life-transforming for some people without also being an awkward loser and a joke to others.
“If you find yourself consistently giving too many fucks about trivial shit that bothers you — your ex-girlfriend’s new Facebook picture, how quickly the batteries die in the TV remote, missing out on yet another 2-for-1 sale on hand sanitizer — chances are you don’t have much going on in your life to give a legitimate fuck about.”
If you are able to not give a fuck about the discomfort and struggle your goals require, then you will become relentless.
For you to change your habits, you must be okay with being wrong about something.
If it’s down to you being messed up, or everybody else being messed up, it is far more likely you’re the one who’s messed up.
If someone is better than you at something, then it’s probably because they have failed at that something more than you have.
Life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway; you’ll never have all of the answers
The desire to avoid rejection, confrontation, conflict in order to make everything gel and synchronize is a deep form of egotism.
When trust is broken, it can be reconstructed only if the trust-breaker admits fault and takes responsibility by improving their behavior over time.
“If your emotions are constantly being swayed from one direction to another, and you feel a lack of control, it’s likely that you’re prizing a lot of the wrong things in your life.”
A bad relationship is when two people solve each other’s problems in order to feel good about themselves. A good relationship is when two people solve their own problems in order to feel good about the other person.
Saying no and hearing no often is a sign of a good relationship.
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”
Most of the advice out there functions at a superficial level of simply trying to make people feel good in the moment, while the real long-term issues never get resolved.
Everybody loves the result. But you have to love the process.
What is objectively true about your situation is not as critical as how you subjectively view, measure, and value the situation.
Self-awareness is like an onion. The first layer is a simple reading of one’s emotions (happy, sad, anxious, angry,). The second layer is how you perceive those emotions and understanding where they’re originating from. The third level becomes your habits and personal values.
Negative feelings are a call to action; when you experience these, it means you’re supposed to move towards doing that thing that’s holding you back.
You’re going to die anyway, so your doubts, fears, and failures don’t really matter. You have nothing to lose. You might as well try.
Action isn’t just the byproduct of motivation; it’s also the source of it. Inspiration will strike when you take action.
You were fortunate enough to have existed as a human being so go out there and do something valuable with your life because your days are counting down.
Certainty is the opposite of growth.
Your life is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.
Commitment to one thing liberates us more than anything else. You can’t be a jack of all trades; this is the cost of greatness.
“In my life, I have given a fuck about many people and many things. I have also not given a fuck about many people and many things. And like the road not taken, it was the fucks not given that made all the difference.”
Low self-esteem is not always correlated with evil deeds; some of the wickedest criminals often felt great about themselves.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle
We can’t always control our circumstances. But we can always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we react.
Confronting your insecurities, fears, and worries honestly are what allow you to build courage, perseverance, and great relationships with others.
“The ticket to emotional health, like that to physical health, comes from eating your veggies—that is, accepting the bland and mundane truths of life: truths such as “Your actions actually don’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things” and “The vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that’s okay.” This vegetable course will taste bad at first. Very bad. You will avoid accepting it. But once ingested, your body will wake up feeling more potent and more alive”
Not giving a fuck does not mean you’re being unsympathetic; it means you’re being efficient.
In the HBO show, The Wire, there’s a scene where the Bunk said to Officer McNulty: “That’s what you get for giving a fuck when it wasn’t your turn to give a fuck.”
As a society, we are no longer facing a material problem. We have an abundance of resources: TVs, gadgets, clothes, and possessions that we don’t need. The battle we are fighting is spiritual. We own so much stuff and have so many opportunities and mediums for doing things that we don’t know what to say no to anymore.