The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Sometimes — not very often, but sometimes — a meme really is the appropriate online answer to the things life dishes out to us.


This one in particular is one of my favorites.  It also happens to be my general attitude going into 2017 and the overall theme of this book.  You probably guessed this last part by the clever title.  The thing is, it’s not about simply not caring.  As Manson so eloquently states, when you don’t care about anything, that’s called being a psychopath.  Nobody wants that.  This book is about not engaging with the little stupid and inane things that drive us batshit crazy for no reason.  It’s about not magnifying the social media echo chamber.  It’s about choosing a life of purpose and sanity on our own terms that broaden the very depth and breadth of our human experience.

This book begins by explaining the great feedback loop that keeps people angry, depressed, or whatever else, and continues on to confront the concepts of death and existential crisis.  Everywhere in between, it’s laced with the kind of wisdom that takes the majority of the self help industry and all of the “everyone gets a gold star” mentality and basically just slaps it across the face.  Manson explains the necessities of adversity, the idea deliberately picking your most important battles (i.e., choosing which fucks to give so you’re spread too thin when you need to give them), and simply unplugging from the feedback loop that has us caring about way too many things that are essentially meaningless, hopeless, or too stupid to be realistic.

As much fun as I had with this, and as helpful as I found it to be (and I really did — it’s the right message at the right time for me), I’m docking a star off the rating for the assumption that “anyone who has sat through the Star Wars prequels understands the concept of psychological pain.”  Perhaps this seems petty, but as I actively choose to give a fuck about those films, I don’t give a fuck about the petty traumas of those who are too lazy to understand them with the level of engagement needed to do so.  They require you to give a fuck to appreciate them.  That tired old narrative about them being painful needs to die because it’s part of the needless feedback loop that causes so many pointless fights.  Clearly Manson has spent his fucks unwisely on his bitching, and in doing so has created a false equivalency for his narrative here.

See that?  I took the lesson to heart.  I’ve picked my battles and have chosen which fucks to give.  Apparently I’ve learned something of value.

4 stars


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