[Book Review] The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck

Why do we care about so many trivialities? From pretending to be that which we are not – rich, happy, successful – to caring about what everyone thinks, Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F …Grawlix …CK. doesn’t quite answer that question. That’s because these answers are different for each person. I might care about being happy for a different reason than you. In an afternoon or two, you can find your answers.

Rating: ★★★★★ [5/5]

Manson’s writing style is deceptively casual.

As I read, about 100 pages per day, much of it felt obvious, or like reminders of things I had learned. That’s the thing, though. It’s like his analogy of a “VCR question,” or a question that is obvious to everyone except the asker, like “how do you operate a VCR?,” because they are so stuck in their attempts at perceiving the situation that they are unable to fathom any answers, so when one presents itself, it’s like conjuring up some kind of magick.

Life is full of VCR questions.

In terms of psychology, the book is more about the breadth of exploring various questions than the depth of answering them. We need more books like this that make almost trivialities less trivial because to encourage the reader to discern what they care about, what they don’t, and reminding them that life’s time constraints should remind you to not procrastinate on deciding, we can live more fulfilling lives.

There is one part I found particularly telling.

Manson used his autobiography to paint a picture of how he went from a rebellious teen to a curious globetrotter to a responsible adult. Throughout our lives, we live, we grow, and we figure out what we value. Whatever you value most helps you not give a fuck over the things that don’t bring you there. Manson’s teenage self valued freedom most; globetrotting self valued exploration most; responsible self valued stability most.

As his values changed, so too did his focuses.

Now that his values prize having a stable home life, his values don’t include the freedom to do whatever he wants wherever he wants without reason. Manson still has his autonomy and argues that he still has freedom in the sort of stability he’s found, it’s just a different kind of freedom. Since what he values and what he finds valuable have changed, he doesn’t have to feel concerned over things he doesn’t valuable.

That is the subtle art of not giving a fuck.

When we know what we value in life, we can ignore the stuff we don’t value. If we can practice understanding what we can control and what we can’t, letting the things wash over us that we can’t control and accepting when the things we can control don’t quite hit the mark, we can feel more confident in our abilities. We can then get out there and explore life more fully. If that’s what we value.

Above all, we should practice placing our values where they’re most valuable.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: See “Photo” for the book borrowing inspiration and “Related” for why this is a Sunday essay. The review writing inspiration is based on this notion I’ve been developing in the Downsizing Zeal essay series where I’m writing about things before I let go of them, whether physically like this book, which I suppose is a manifestation of the Applied Psychology essays of years’s past where I’d mentally let go of certain burdens. Manson might echo this notion: The more things you’re holding onto that you’re not confident in, the less confident you feel overall. I want to go out and explore the world without feeling the burden of attachment to what I’m leaving behind in my apartment-mansion. The more I donate or sell the closer I am toward locking the door and finding these new experiences and having the confidence to take them on.
Related: Other Book Reviews and placed in the Sober Living column because, let’s face it, we’re addicted to other people’s perceptions of us.
Photo: I was walking around the less seedy supermarket on August 19th, saw the striking graphic design of the cover, which sparked an itch in my brain that had burrowed itself to such a degree that by September 4th, I had borrowed it from the library, and read it cover to cover in less than two days. I was amused by the grawlixes but the copy I borrowed only had one grawlix. [Is that how that pluralization system works? Or does having two separate sets of symbols denote grawlixes?] Oh, and I read about 66% of the book on my patio in the sun. I got a nice suntan. I started by reading in my car after I picked it up, and concluded by reading on the floor after my skin began to burn but before it began to peel or anything. This is my reading spot for sunny days like September 4th when I finished reading the book, sitting on this folding stool. Not pictured is my bagged box of tissues for when the sun or the pollen aggress my nose.
Written On: September 5th [24 minutes, 4:57am 5:21am, mobile]
Last Edited: September 6th [Grammatics. I have a free browser plugin that catches most minor grammatical errors and nuances. It catches a few more things than my mobile app. Otherwise, first draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.