Have you ever felt pain or get serious problems in your life. In this summary book of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, Mark Manson advises today’s generations most affected by social media and commercial culture to question what they see and believe, to grow up, and prioritise their values. He says that the process will be unpleasant and difficult, but ultimately rewarding.
This book landed at the top of the New York Times bestseller list in October 2016 and has remained there ever since. It had been a best-seller for an incredible 179 weeks by May 2020. Mark Manson has clearly identified the voice that his audience seeks and believes in.
That voice is direct, honest, and surprisingly intelligent. It attempts to persuade you that Manson is a fountain of commonsense information that you always knew but needed someone to explain since so many other voices – the dumb wind of ever-present self-help books, blogs, TED lectures, and TV shows – drown out your own. And Manson is convincing.
Don’t Avoid Pain
Manson works fast to identify the source of your anxiety. He explains right away that you must understand that modern living is difficult. He notices that your newsfeed informs you that everyone else is content. Manson clearly criticises how the ordinary self-help book suggests ways to improve. He rejects the central argument of these books: that happiness is a legitimate goal.
Manson emphasises that negative emotions are normal. Excessive optimism hides the issues that have to face in order to be happy. Manson thinks that setting a difficult goal and attaining it makes you feel powerful. Complaining, blaming others, and feeling insulted on a regular basis may feel good, but it will not solve your problems.
Manson expresses an important, simple truth: true self-esteem does not imply feeling good about yourself all of the time.
He suggests a traditional checklist for becoming fearless based on the Stoics of Ancient Greece and their most famous philosopher, Epictetus in this “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” book: Rule number one: don’t get upset over little matters. Number two, indifference is not an answer. Three, stop looking for comfort. Four, stop seeking to avoid all sources of pain. And, most importantly, decide what is actually essential to you and pursue it.
Manson mentions the Stoics when he writes that emotions are untrustworthy. Don’t make decisions based just on emotions, because what makes you happy changes from day to day, and humans are always looking for more. Manson reminds you that there is always a trade-off between the pleasure you want and the cost you must pay.
Manson presents scientific evidence that suggests that pain provides an evolutionary advantage. It ensures that humans discover innovative ideas and survive as a species. The author maintains that physical and mental pain are warning signs that you must change your behaviour in order to survive.
You become anxious when you pretend you have no problems. You will feel powerless if you blame your issues on someone or something else. Manson goes to the Stoics again when he explains his thesis simply: solving problems makes you happy.
Entitlement might develop as a result of painful life circumstances that make your difficulties appear overwhelming. Manson adds that your unconscious sees weakness as a sign that you are either uniquely gifted and magnificent or particularly cursed and low. In any case, you determine that you deserve special attention. But, according to Manson, you don’t. Nobody else does, either.
If you want to learn more about the pressures check out this summary book; “The Power of Pressure”
According to Manson, self-awareness consists of:
- Identifying and expressing your emotions in appropriate ways.
- Investigating the belief that created the emotion.
- Understanding your values.
Manson explains how worthy values such as honesty, vulnerability, and charity are realistic, beneficial to society, and actionable. Unworthy values are based on superstition, are antisocial, and are out of your control, such as pleasure, wealth, being right, and remaining positive.
Manson wants you to accept responsibility. Select how you would characterise a problem and what you will do about it. He reconfirms that life isn’t fair. As he gives this advise, Manson avoids riding a high horse. He positions himself as someone who has overcome painful emotional and psychological experiences. He provides his brutal approach as the short-cut he couldn’t discover.
Manson advises that if you wait for the truth before acting, you will waste your life. When he asks you to avoid the temptation to be certain of anything about yourself, good or evil, he departs from the Stoics and enters the realm of Zen. Certainty prevents you from trying new things, experiencing new things, and evolving. Examine your beliefs, emotions, and assumptions. Accepting uncertainty relieves insecurity and broadens your perspective on yourself and others.
Manson uses modern neuroscience to explain how your brain tricks you. It mistakenly remembers, misunderstands, and assigns significance to your actions. Everything you believe is incorrect in some manner. Manson emphasises that you should question everything your brain tells you since it is an untrustworthy narrator.
Manson suggests action as a cure-all. He claims that if you wait for inspiration to urge you to act, you will be stuck waiting indefinitely. Inspiration and motivation are stimulated by action. Do something – the outcome is unimportant.
Manson claims that your unavoidable death makes life meaningful. Death inspires you to contribute to something larger than your limited life. There’s nothing to fear because you know you’re going to die.
In the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, Manson’s narrative voice is sometimes too friendly, too frat-house living room on a Sunday afternoon. He refers to readers as “amigos” and enjoys using cuss words and dad slang. This may entice his – presumably young male – readers to follow his advice, but it quickly becomes irritating. Manson’s tone and attitude will make female readers feel strongly excluded. Despite this, Manson gives centuries-old advice on dealing with suffering and issues while developing courage and maturity.