The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck – Mark Manson

Since this book first came out, I have been wanting to read it. It’s got a rude title and a bright orange cover… what’s not to like?

But then it became a runaway success and I become a bit more suspicious about reading it. Then the moment passed and I didn’t. Until now. Until it popped up again and again in conversations and online. So I bought it, and I am glad I did.

The book is a great caution to caring too much about *stuff*. Although would be better called, how to choose better things to give a f*ck about!

Manson’s ideas walk the line between a certain kind of Buddhist practicality and a fact-driven, quite coldly, western approach to what works in life and what doesn’t. This tone and stance appeals to me.

All too often humans get ensnared in the mumbo jumbo of spiritual thinking and forget the day to day WHY of what they are doing. Conversely, we also get so snared in the physical day to day that we forget that we are more than mere automatons.

As someone working in the field of creativity, I found the book to be a refreshing blast of air when it comes to talking about how our society works. Essentially, Manson argues, our society tries very hard to make us give way too many f*cks about stuff that actually isn’t really that important. The result is essentially, unhappiness.

What IS worth giving a f*ck about, is our own life and where it is going. Taking back control of your self-determination and direction should be a goal for everyone and Manson’s book gives some excellent advice on how to do this.

Giving too many f*cks causes stress. When we are stressed, it is very hard to be creative. Our minds are literally too busy and loud. Which means we cannot author our own story, find out own road. So we become unhappy.

Our society uses all these useless f*cks that we give to control us. It is only in breaking free of caring too much about the wrong things that we can use our inherent creative talents and skills to set ourselves free and experience flow, or optimal experience, and become happy.

Once Manson has introduced how this not giving a f*ck thing works, he spends the rest of the book exploring 5 key values that, if embraced, he claims, lead to a more fulfilled life, with f*cks being given to stuff that actually matters,

The 5 Values are:

You Are Always Choosing

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

Failure Is the Way Forward

The Importance of Saying No

…And Then You Die

To be creative, you have to embrace ambiguity (you could be wrong about everything), you have to embrace complexity (you are always choosing) and you have to focus on the new and novel (failure is the way forward.) You also have to focus your attention on your intrinsic motivations and ignore a lot of the extrinsic rewards we are offered (The importance of saying no) and finally, you have to take action in order to change your life/environment/everyday experience (and then you die)

So much of what holds many people back from expressing their creativity is fear of some kind, or as Mark would have it, they are giving too many f*cks to the wrong values. This list, combined with some key creative discipline, can really change your life. I am busy summarising the 5 Values for my own use. I want to reflect further on some of what is said.

Don’t be put off by the hype. If you are feeling swamped, out of control and without options, read this book. It can really help you to work through what is and isn’t really worth giving a f*ck about… and therefore where you can and should be putting your energies