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

Updated: May 13, 2020

2016, Harper

I found this book in my daughter’s apartment, peeking out of her roomate's shelf in the room I was borrowing. I hadn’t brought any reading with me, hoping to catch up on my blog.

However, having read a similar title by a different author (Sarah Knight, a few months before, I was curious about why two authors wrote two different books with almost the same title only one year apart. A quick internet research didn’t turn up any answers so I still don't know, maybe it's a coincidence... But I did decide to at least skim through the book.

Where Knight advises us to do what we want rather than what other people want us to do, Manson's take is a bit more philosophical: You shouldn’t give a f**k because you’re going to die anyway.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. Mark Manson, who learned the hard way through seeing a friend die, is encouraging us to set our measurements for our success according to our own values and not those of society, thereby changing our perception of ourselves. Most of us are afraid to admit that we are all going to die sooner or later, and we need to face rather than fear that fact and keep it in mind in the way we live.

This means there’s no point in chasing after goals like being incredibly rich (unless that’s truly what you value in which case, go for it), when we could better spend our time being a good friend, helping others, being in a committed relationship, or doing a job we really like. The knowledge that we don’t have to, as he puts it, give so many ****s about everything, frees us to live a good and less stressful life.

The Subtle Art... is part of a new strain of books called negative self-help books. Instead of encouraging you to be the best or to think you’re the best, they encourage you to relax and not pressure yourself, i.e. to not give a f**k. Manson even says that it helps to realize that most lives are pretty mundane and no one person’s problems are unique.

Does the emergence of "negative self-help" books point to the failure of the previous generation of self-help books, or simply the need for something new to sell more books? Regardless, this book has some helpful insight and might be worth taking a look if you find it peeking out of a shelf somewhere.


Sample quote from book:

"The true measurement of self-worth is not how a person feels about her positive experiences, but rather how she feels about her negative experiences."


Mark Manson started as a blogger and has millions of followers. You can check him out here:

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