Book review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

All of the opinions on this book are my own. 

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“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

Synopsis: In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Mason doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

This is one of the self-help books I really wanted to read. I’m in a phase in my life where I try to develop myself and get to know myself better. Self-help books are a great way to do this. The main reason I wanted to read this book is because I kind of had this mindset for a long time, but in a less drastic form. Mark Manson made me look deeper into the fucks I give and how I can choose to manage that better.

I have been giving a lot less fucks since the last couple of years. Around me I saw people that would get angry of frustrated over the tiniest things and I got sick of it. Since then I’ve been way more relaxed in life, and it helps a lot with overcoming some of my nerves and anxiety. The only fucks I allow myself to give, are the ones that I have an influence on. I am the one who decides to go to a certain party or occasion. I am the one who decides to take the next step in life and take the actions to get to that. On the other hand, I decided to ditch the fucks that I don’t have an influence on. Weather is the biggest point. I can’t influence the weather, so don’t complain and don’t worry about it. It’s the same with traffic. I don’t have an influence on it. When I’m stuck in traffic, I can’t just take the traffic away from one moment to another. So don’t fuss over it. Doing this with all these kind of things, made a big change for me.

This book gave the concept of fucks given a deeper context. Decide which fucks really matter in live. It sounds so easy and self-explanatory, but it’s something that is harder when you put it in practice. Almost everyone can tell what’s most important for them, but that doesn’t mean they give it the attention they want to give.

Mark Manson basically tells us that we need failure, confrontations and limitations to get to happiness and achievements we look for in life. This is different than a lot of other self-help books and speeches, where we get to the top by positivity and good things in life. Personally, I believe that the negative experiences in life make you stronger and more confident. You’ve been through that moment and have seen how it’s not to be done, so you know what needs to be different the next time.

Another point Mark Manson noticed, is that a desire for a positive experience is a negative experience and the acceptance of a negative experience is positive. People will get this, but still a lot of people make their desire a negative thing. I have to say I am part of that. Or I should say I used to be more influenced by that. I desired for so many things in life that I didn’t have, but I saw someone else have. It made me jealous and feel bad, while I did nothing about it. Now I still don’t work a lot towards that beautiful massive cabin in the woods to be honest. Though I did change my mindset about it. I can go through the negative experience of working my ass off for the biggest part of my life and having no life in that part of life besides it, but at the moment I decide to give more fucks about other things that matter in life. If I want to get there, I have to accept that I have to go through a lot of negative experiences to get to the positieve experience in the end. It’s a great point that Mark Manson noticed in the book, and one I will take with me.

In the end I have to say I loved this book. It gave a great insight into the art of not giving a fuck. Some points were known, some points weren’t. Mark Manson explained a lot of the points well by using his own experiences, which gave great insight into his own life and the understanding of the concept. It’s a self-help book that stands close to me in the way that I feel like I already think like this, but I only have to put it into practice.

I gave this book 5/5 stars. Happy reading!

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