Love it or Hate it: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

I have to admit, I like self-help books. I really always have. I’m not sure why. I’m not overly trendy or into the latest philosophies on things, but I have always enjoyed a self-help book.

I guess I like hearing other people’s opinions and “wisdom” of what makes them live their best life (cheesy, I know). I’ve read some that have been bad, some that have been wishy washy, and some that have been really good.

One of the things I’ve learned from reading self-help books for many years is that one size does not fit all. What changes the game (or the life) for someone might be absolute garbage for the next person. It’s the same reason why there are so many different kinds of diets out there. Because not every type of diet works for every person. We all want the same results — a hot bod — but the way Billy gets it and the way Betty gets it are probably going to be different.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I personally enjoyed it, but before I tell you why I liked it I’m first going to tell you why you might not like it.

Lots of F bombs

The entire first chapter is literally loaded with them. It was almost like every other word was the f-word. Some of it was used in a funny way and it made me laugh, but at times it honestly got a little distracting. If profanity bothers you, this book will bother you.

He’s SUPER blunt

Some self-help books are super “rainbows and butterflies” like. That is not this book. He’s going to hit you with some hard truths that sound super depressing at first. If you’re into more of a light and fluffy self-help book, this book isn’t for you.

He can come off as a jerk

I read some reviews saying he came off as a condescending jerk. I really can’t argue with that point, but it didn’t detour me from appreciating some of the points he was making. Plus, I also feel like a lot of times any person who won’t sugar coat things is labeled a “jerk”. I personally appreciate someone who gives it to me straight regardless of how bad it sounds.

My favorite Points

You always have a choice about what you choose to care about

When I was in college I had a few token friends who were always mixed up in some kind of drama. Seriously it never ended. They would often come to me and ask me how I stay away from it all. The only response I could give them was, “I just really don’t care”. Guy didn’t text me back? I didn’t really care. Someone didn’t invite me to their party? I didn’t really care. I didn’t have to try not to care about these things, I just genuinely didn’t.

So while I never lost any sleep about guy drama or girl drama, I did spend a lot of time worrying myself sick about things like jobs, internships, and putting myself in the best position to live the life I wanted.

Ultimately we have 100% control over what we choose to care about. It might take time and effort to wean yourself off of caring about dumb stuff, but it can be done. Are you going to value family and close friendships? Or are you going to value going out 4 nights a week and drinking in excess with casual acquaintances. Your decisions show what you value and what you choose to care about.

Pain is universal & useful

When you’re really hurting physically or mentally it can be so hard to imagine that anyone else knows how you’re feeling. Most of the time you feel alone, miserable, and just stuck in neutral. It is hard, but as soon as you’re able to take a step back and realize that pain is universal and that no one is exempt from it your perspective can really change for the better and you can start using your pain to make positive changes in your life.

“If you feel crappy it’s because your brain is telling you there’s a problem that’s undressed or unresolved.” – Mark Manson

Emotions are overrated 

I wouldn’t go as far as Manson to say emotions are overrated per say, but I do think that emotions are often blown out of proportion. I spent a lot of my life specifically ignoring my emotions and I have to say it really isn’t what I recommend. I also don’t recommend basing a bunch of decision (or even any decisions) purely on emotions.

“Emotions are feedback mechanisms telling us that something is either likely right or likely wrong for us.” – Mark Manson

“Decision making based on emotional intuition without the aid of reason to keep it in line, pretty much always sucks.” – Mark Manson 

Life is about struggle. Decide what is worth the struggle

This section of the book really spoke to me. I think a lot of time social media paints a perfect picture of people’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-social media (in fact this post tells you I’m the complete opposite), but I think we all need to remember that we do not know the extent of anyone’s struggles. We might see the results, but we do not know what they’ve endured behind the scenes.

We’ve all heard the stories. Bill Gates ran his first company into the ground. Walt Disney was fired from a job for lacking creativity. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. These people eventually thrived because they decided that their end goal was worth the struggle they had to endure to get there.

“What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?” – Mark Manson 

“One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you and the most beautiful.” – Mark Manson 

You need to be wrong

Life is about making decisions and then learning and adjusting based on the results of those decisions. It is said that Thomas Edison tried and failed to invent the light bulb thousand of times. When asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times at something he famously responded, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Edison was alright with being wrong because he knew it would get him one step closer to eventually being right.

“It is worth remembering that for any change in your life you must be wrong about something. if you’re miserable day after day that means you’re already wrong about something major in your life, and until you’re able to question yourself and find it, nothing will change.” – Mark Manson

What’s the best self-help book you’ve read?

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  • I didn’t read this one, but read something similar: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight. It literally changed my life…taught me how to figure out what I cared about in life and how to say no to the rest….leaving more time and energy for the stuff I cared about. It taught me to get comfortable with saying no.
    I hear my friends complaining about some event they have to attend or committee they got roped into or friend they don’t really like, but spend a lot of time with and I’m just like “why do you do all this stuff?” and the answer is inevitably “it was just easier to say yes.”
    I prob would have read Manson’s book had I not already read something really similar.

    • “it’s just easier to say yes” <— so true. I find myself always needing to justify when I do in fact say no to things. Like I have to say, "no, i'm super busy right now" or "no, I already have plans". like sometimes the answer is just no because i don't care to spend my time on that, or I don't care to get involved with that. I'm slowly trying to rid myself of the habit of needed to justify my no's.

  • Love an honest review about a book. Profanity always throws me off a bit, so just because of that I may need to pass on this read. I appreciate your high level overview though! I still feel like I learned a little something. I love self-help books too, but I’m very picky about the ones I like. To each their own 🙂

    • I’ve definitely gotten pickier the more I read them! I want to read the book You Are a Badass. I’ve heard good things!

  • ok this book has been on my list for quite some time, but your review has realllly made me want to read it 🙂

    • I really liked it! The first chapter nearly made me stop, but it completely changed after that!

  • I like self help books and I’ve heard a lot about this one. Might have to check it out.