THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FUCK
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Total pages: 209
Total approximate words: 53000
This book, I distinctively remember when I got my hands on it. Beginning of 2018, after one of the Australian layovers, at the airport, on the way to the boarding gate, at this huge book store. My job as a flying attendant, even though was pretty hectic and challenging with having to deal with vastly different time zones, and at times extremely difficult passengers, the time alone at a layover, in a different city did provide some kind of solace to my mind and soul. Mid of that year, I was getting married, and arranging a wedding was turning out to be an extremely stressful series of events, especially keeping in mind the number of people to please and the amount of money involved for that. Being an Indian, I felt obligated to please everyone, even when I didn’t want to! And seeing the title of the book on a fluorescent orange color, I felt that the book was made for me. I really needed to learn the subtle of not giving a fuck.
The book cleverly starts with a brief philosophy from Charles Bukowski’s life. Bukowski was an alcoholic, womaniser, gambler, a cheapskate and a deadbeat broke who worked at a dead-end job. No one cared about what he wrote, and he kind of gave up and lived in depression. Until one day, a publisher took interest in his work. He was fifty by then. Copies of his writings were eventually sold for millions, but Bukowski didn’t change much as a person. He still chased after women, was an obnoxious rude person and drank alcohol like water. Despite all that he was still the loser that he was before. The take home from his story is that, Bukowski’s success did not stem from his determination to be a winner, but from his acceptance about himself as a loser, and then writing honestly about it. He never tried to be anything other than what he was. His comfort with himself as a failure made him a success. Bukowski didn’t give a fuck about success. Self-improvement and success don’t necessarily mean they’re the same thing.
The book talks about how everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience, and how most of us don’t want the negative experience, which backfires and keeps us stagnated at where we are. Manson gives relatable examples about metrics or how we measure ourselves and how important it is to prioritize better values, choosing better things to give a fuck about. He writes profoundly about why confronting problems are important even if they are uncomfortable and unconventional.
Through the book, Manson explains about the counterintuitive values and why are they important. Taking responsibility for everything; acknowledging one’s own ignorance; the willingness to discover one’s own flaws so that they can be improved; the ability to accept and offer rejection, build trust and set boundaries; and the final one, the contemplation of one’s own mortality.
The book ends with Manson giving an example from his own life about the final counterintuitive value.
Lines that made so much sense:
“Honesty in a relationship is more important to me than feeling good all the time. The last person I should ever have to censor myself is the woman I love.”
“If someone is better than you at something, then it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have.”
“There’s a certain comfort that comes with knowing how you fit in the world. Anything that shakes up that comfort- even if it could potentially make your life better- is inherently scary.”
“Throughout my life, I’ve been flat out wrong about myself, others, society, culture, the world, the universe- everything. And I hope that will continue for the rest of my life.”
“The key to a good life is not give a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less.”
What I liked about the book?
Mark Manson’s straight forward perspective, and his usage of simple yet extremely relevant examples. Despite being a ‘self-help’ book, the narration is in first person, which kind of makes it tremendously relatable and refreshing to read; it painted the author more as someone who was figuring out about life and sharing its lessons on the way, rather than some know it all guru. Tons of examples, comparisons to understand each outlook. A dash of humor every now and then. Less pretentious and more substance comparatively, for its genre.
What I didn’t like about the book?
Could have been a bit smaller. But that was not a deal breaker for me.
If you like indulging in ‘self-help’ books, with a refreshing narrative compared to the cliché contents of such books, THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FUCK is for you. If you are tired of the bullshit around you, and want a different perspective, but you hate talking to people (for introverts), read this book. If you are a people pleaser, read this book. Every time I need some reality check, I read this book, which means I am going to be reading this book n number of times in the future, unless a better book comes out about, how not to give any fucks.
Ease of reading: 7.5/10
Writing style (to keep the reader engaged): 8.5/10
Resonating to the reader (moving, and relatable): 8.5/10
Overall, I give this awesome book an 8/10.
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This review is based on my personal reading of the book and understanding it with my own limited experiences. This review is just a singular perspective and not the only one.