The buzz around The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson has been incredible. Last year, this book followed me everywhere from my insta feed to all airports I traveled through. So, I finally bit the bullet and bought a copy for myself.
Admittedly, I went into the book with skepticism because a) I was unsure about the language the book will use considering its title (not a big fan of swearing) b) the hype around it raised the bar too high, so would it really live up to my expectations?
The first chapter Don’t Try, ironically, tries too hard to convey the point. It uses a condescending tone, and trendy language that falls flat for the most part.
“People aren’t just born not giving a fuck. In fact, we’re born giving way too many fucks. Ever watch a kid cry his eyes out because his hat is the wrong shade of blue? Exactly. Fuck that kid.”
Unfortunately, a sanctimonious tone continues to reflect in his writing in the entire book. That was off-putting and became one of the reasons why I could not bring myself to love this book.
That said, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck has some interesting and relatable insights, which can help one prioritize what is important and relinquish what is not. Most of these insights would not be groundbreaking for someone who frequently reads non-fiction books and has gained exposure to a variety of religious, cultural, and self-help literature. Nonetheless, there are some powerful parts that offer an opportunity for self-reflection.
“Because when you give too many fucks—when you give a fuck about everyone and everything—you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the fucking way you want it to be. This is a sickness. And it will eat you alive. You will see every adversity as an injustice, every challenge as a failure, every inconvenience as a personal slight, every disagreement as a betrayal. You will be confined to your own petty, skull-sized hell, burning with entitlement and bluster, running circles around your very own personal Feedback Loop from Hell, in constant motion yet arriving nowhere”
In chapter five You Are Always Choosing, Manson makes some good points about taking responsibility for our choices.
“I see life in the same terms. We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it’s easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choices we make with those cards, the risks we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they’re given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life. And it’s not necessarily the people with the best cards.”
Chapter 6 You Are Wrong About Everything (But So am I) is where Manson brings some of the Buddhist principles into play. It was one of my favorite chapters in the book.
“When we let go of the stories we tell about ourselves, to ourselves, we free ourselves up to actually act (and fail) and grow.
When someone admits to herself, “You know, may be I’m not good at relationships,” then she is suddenly free to act and end her bad marriage, She has no identity to protect by staying in a miserable, crappy marriage just to prove something to herself.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck overall was an average, quick read. It had momentary impact on me, for instance I was inspired me to make a list of everyday actions that do not agree with my personal values and goals. I regularly review those actions and try to keep them at a minimum.
In the longterm, I do not think I will find myself reaching for this book to revisit a profound insight or suggested practice. That lack of depth combined with an off-putting language and tone, I would give this book a 2.5/5.
Have you read this book? What did you think?