The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Book Review

by Fareya
Title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Author: Mark Manson
Pages: 206
Publication Day: September 13th, 2016
Publisher: Harper
Format: Hardcover

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, Manson 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 modern 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.

Booktimistic Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I am not one to read a lot of self-help books, but this title caught my eyes. I mean, is the art of not giving a f*ck really subtle? I wouldn’t think so. Naturally, I was very curious on what the author has to say! So, I bought this bright orange catchy book and it sat on my shelf for almost two years, until a few days back when I finally picked it up, but only because I was in a fiction reading slump, not because I wanted a life coach coaching me on how to live. Honestly, I didn’t even expect to like this, but these slightly vulgar, no-nonsense, conversational 200 pages seriously surprised me.

Let’s start with the language, which is easy to read and communicative, but the first fifty or so pages have an abundance of profanity in them, it’s left and right and thrown in with every other sentence. I admit I was somewhat put off by this, but with the title being what it is, this wasn’t completely unexpected. And more so, the philosophy and concepts the author talks about made so much sense, that I chose to overlook the vulgarism, and I am glad I did.

“In life, we have limited amount of f*cks to give. So you must choose your f*cks wisely.”

The quote mentioned above is essentially what I thought to be the crux of this book. Obviously, this one sentence is not as simple as it might seem. The idea behind not giving a f*ck is not about being indifferent but rather about being at ease with being different. It is about choosing one’s own battles and accepting one’s emotions, even if they are not always inherently positive.

One of the best things I liked about this book was the talk on choice and acceptance, where the author emphasizes that it’s okay to have negative emotions and it’s okay to feel bad at times. What is important, is how we choose to deal with those emotions later. Convincing myself that I feel good, when I don’t, or believing that my life is perfect when in fact it is a total mess is not healthy. I seriously never believed in the be positive all the time and the situation will fix itself crap, so this was a welcome concept for me. How can a person be positive all the time, be happy all the time? That is simply not human! Pain and struggle is just as important as being happy. Negative emotions are just as important as their positive counterparts. Accepting is the way to go, not suppressing or denying. And most importantly, one needs to take action in order to change something.

Anyway, moving on, this book has a bunch of other really profound and solid points to make. I’ll try summarizing a few of them briefly below:

  • stop blaming yourself and others and take responsibility for your actions
  • our struggles determine our successes, do not think you deserve something if you’re not willing to struggle for it
  • avoiding rejection, confrontation and conflicts and attempting to accept everything is a deep and subtle form of entitlement; avoid being an entitled, self-absorbed person
  • nothing in life is certain, better embrace the uncertainty

One last thing worth mentioning is that this book also has a number of inspiring, real-life stories, including a few from the author’s life as well, that reinforce the philosophy and concepts stated. I thought that was a nice touch.

That’s all. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life , is an anti self help book, which I believe can be quite helpful. Remember though, you need to overlook its vulgarity and retain the thought-provoking, useful concepts!

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