BOOK REVIEW: THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK
Good morning guys, Happy Monday! This week, I wanted to start things off with one of the latest books I read: The subtle art of not giving a f*ck, by Mark Manson.
It's been a while since I haven't done a book review, and I felt like I HAD to talk about this one. It's not exactly a new book (it came out in 2016) but its content couldn't be more timely. Like many people, I sometimes find myself spending way to much time analyzing things I just simply shouldn't give a second thought to.
Since the past year of my life has been totally crazy, I sometimes have moments when I wonder if my priorities and life goals shifted along with the many life changes that occurred. A few weeks ago, I was having a moment when I was questioning a lot of things, trying to assess my values and keep myself in check, and I knew I needed to read that book I had heard so much about.
It was definitely an eye-opening read, and I feel like it's a book everyone should read, even if you're not going through crazy life changes or on the cusp of a mid-life crisis. Here are some of my favourite life-lessons in there:
You Have To Give A Fuck About Something
Before you start thinking about not giving a fuck, Mark Manson suggests that you have to start by deciding what you actually give a fuck about. Obviously, I totally agree with him on this. In my opinion, people who don't give a fuck about anything are usually assholes. Because here's what: Even people who seemingly don't give a fuck about anything give a fuck about one thing: Themselves. And usually, people who only care about themselves are... Well, assholes. We all know at least one.
And I'm sure most of us already came close to becoming one, after a bad breakup or being screwed over by someone we trusted. I myself remember one ugly breakup, after which I told myself "Fuck this shit, I'm never gonna give a shit about a man ever again". And then I was betrayed by my best friend and I thought "Oh, fuck this! I'm never gonna give a fuck about a girlfriend again. Women are bitches, people suck!". The problem with that reasoning is that after a few misfortunes, you're likely to end up uneducated, unemployed, and with no money, family or friends. Not exactly the ideal scenario, right?!
Luckily, there's a simple way to avoid that. You simply have to give a fuck about something.
Happiness Is A Crock Of Shit
Uhh, what? Yes. You've read that right. The fact that happiness is overrated is really a recurrent theme in The subtle art of not giving a f*ck. Although it might sound crazy at first, there's an important nuance here. It's not that happiness itself is bad, it's that society's metrics for happiness are fucked up... Let me elaborate a little with my own interpretation of this:
In a societal setting, we're mostly influenced by 2 things: Our peers and media. Our peers are our family, friends, neighbours, coworkers, etc. Media is anything that's thrown at us and becomes popular culture: Movies, advertisement, magazines, music, etc. And in the last few years, something came up that totally blurred the 2 categories: Social media. Social media is a monstrous hybrid of peers and media. It's omnipresent, like traditional ads and newspapers used to be, and it has also somewhat replaced some of our peers.
In 2018, we don't only compare our front yard to the neighbour's or our outfit to our friends. We compare every single aspect of our lives to millions of strangers on social media. We compare what we eat, wear, drive and earn. And we compare the vacations we take, our physical appearance and demonstrations of affection from our significant others, to what complete strangers are posting on Instagram and Facebook.
So crazily enough, some girls might be totally pissed that their boyfriend got them a dozen of roses for Valentine's Day. Why? Because some other girls got 3 dozens of roses. Some other girls got roses and a giant teddy bear. Some other girls got roses, a giant teddy bear and 3 heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. So the super nice gesture of getting his girlfriend 12 beautiful roses went from being thoughtful and kind, to being a proof that he doesn't love her as much as all these other guys out there love their girlfriends. Fucked up, right? (For more on this, you can read my post on how Instagram influences our happiness.)
But comparing ourselves isn't the only thing that's fucked up about our collective values. It's also the fact that the metrics we use to compare ourselves are all out of whack. And that, in my opinion, is mostly because of our media. Think about it: Movies and billboards make us believe that we only need a few things to be happy. The most important thing we need to be happy is money. Otherwise, how are we gonna buy all the bullshit these companies are trying to see us? So we need money to be happy. As much money as possible. So we can buy and own as much shit as possible. To get there, ideally, we need a really successful career. Preferably in a field that's highly valued or brings us fame.
Then once we're rich and have a super successful career, if we wanna really make it, we should also collect as many sexual partners as possible (mostly true for men) or we should be as hot and sexy as possible (mostly true for women). So a great career, a shitton of money, sleeping with as many women as possible and spending a fortune on makeup and plastic surgery should really make us happy and fulfilled.
Obviously, that's all bullshit designed to make us spend money on what big corporations are selling. And I'm not saying we should all sell everything we own, stop showering and move to a tent in the middle of the forrest, never watching TV again. Even though I do believe that money doesn't necessarily bring happiness, I think it helps a whole lot. One of my favourite quotes on that topic is "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle". It's obviously a bit satirical, but I think it sums it up pretty well.
Where I do believe that Mark Manson makes a valid point, is when he says that to be really happy, we should refocus our values on (and then give our fucks to) the things that really matter, like family, friends and inner peace, instead of focussing on the bullshit.
You Should Balance Your Fucks Like A Checkbook
Ok, so now we've figured out that we have to give a fuck about certain things. And we've also established that these things should be based on what truly fulfills us in the long term, as opposed to the bullshit society tells us we should want. This last point ties it up together pretty damn well. Basically, it means that you can't give a fuck about everything, so you have to choose wisely. Because here's the thing: When we give a fuck about one thing, we can't give a fuck about some other things. That's unavoidable. Because we all have a limited amount of fucks to give.
I like to comparing "spending" your fucks to spending your money. Let's say you make 80,000$ a year. You're gonna spend a huge chunk of it on the basic necessities. 24,000$ on housing, 10,000$ on food, 6,000$ on necessary clothing, etc. Then, you're gonna spend a bit of money here and there on some extras. The thing is, you can't spend more money than you have. So you have to make choices. If you choose to have kids, chances are you'll be spending money on baby clothes and college funds, not a new car every year. If you choose to go out to fancy restaurants every night, you're most likely not gonna be wearing designer clothes head to toe. Not on an 80,000$ salary, at least.
Same goes for your fucks. If you choose to give a fuck about a meaningful relationship, most likely you won't give a fuck about having sex with strippers. If you give a fuck about your health, then you can't give a fuck about snorting coke in a shitty nightclub every night. Unless you're totally delusional, giving a fuck about certain things automatically closes the door to giving a fuck about other things. When you go through one door, some other doors close. That's called making choices and sticking with them. And that's arguably the key to a successful and meaningful life.
An example I really love from the book is when Manson describes how his mom got screwed over by a friend. She lent that person some money and never got it back. Something that happens to a lot of us at some point. Manson had to decide then and there if he gave a fuck about that fact. And because he gives a fuck about his mom, he gave a fuck about the situation. Yes, it's a negative situation. No, it doesn't affect him directly. So why would he give a fuck about it? Because giving a fuck about his mom kinda doesn't give him the choice. What he doesn't give a fuck about, in that specific situation? Making someone who screwed him mom pay for it. Naturally.
That doesn't mean he doesn't give a fuck about hurting people. Granted, I don't know Mark Manson personally, but he seems like a decent human being who doesn't hurt people for the sake of it. Quite the opposite, actually. But in that specific situation, he doesn't give a fuck about anything that will get in the way of what he does give a fuck about. That's called balancing your fucks like a checkbook.
I could keep rambling about The subtle art of not giving a f*ck for a long time, because it really resonated with me. The book is full of wisdom and little facts that make a huge difference. And it's also written in a way that's funny AF and entertaining. That makes it a fun read, which is really a must for me. I don't care if a book contains the meaning of life itself if it makes me snore after page 3. Mark Manson's humour is dark, blunt and really my vibe. He's clearly not afraid of talking about the real things... Even the ones that make the reader a bit uncomfortable. Just as an example, some of the chapters in the book are titled "You are not special" and "You're wrong about everything". But surprisingly, these titles are not only about shock value, they actually mean something.
Another reason I highly recommend The subtle art of not giving a f*ck is because it's a great gateway to introspection. I won't go into too many details about introspection here, because I have a full post coming up on this... But introspection is basically the process of asking yourself the tough questions, to be able to move forward. If there's one thing this book does, it's really forcing yourself to ask the tough questions.
Let me know if you guys decide to pick up The subtle art of not giving a f*ck, and what you thought of it! I always love hearing your thoughts and opinions! You can leave me a comment below, or you can hit me up on Instagram! Since summer is here full-force and the beach is becoming my living room again, I'll be reading a lot in the next few months, so brace yourself for more book reviews!
On that note, I'd love to hear what kind of books YOU love. Books about business, history, biographies, novels? Let me know and I'll try to review books on the topics you guys suggested! Also get in touch if you have recommendations for a specific book, preferably something non-fiction! In the meantime, check out my other THB book reviews right here!
I hope you guys have an amazing week!
Love, Jenny xx