The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
I went through a strange journey when I read this book.
To begin with, I didn’t really understand what it was about, and then when I did grasp what the book was about, I at first didn’t agree with the message. However, I persevered with the book right to its rather deep and heavy end, leaving me in a rather shell-shocked state.
Needless to say, the whole experience was very different from what I’m used to.
Why this book?
So, why did I pick up this book in the first place?
As I’m sure you’ll agree, this book is EVERYWHERE. It has been one monster of a best-seller that has graced the profiles of almost all the Bookstagrammers I know and follow.
When purchasing the book for myself, I noticed that it has many raving five-star reviews. That said, there were quite a lot of one-star reviews too. It seems that people either loved the book or hated it (although admittedly, most loved it).
The one-star reviewers thought that the book was overrated, that there was no real content, and it was just waffle. So, I was also intrigued to see where this perspective came from.
My journey through this book
When the book arrived, I wasn’t sure what it was all about. The title didn’t really give a lot away.
After I started reading it, I noticed that the word “fuck” was mentioned continually throughout the first few paragraphs.
Now, I personally don’t mind profanity in books, but in this book, there was just far too much of it, and it made the writing seem rather childish. The sheer amount of profanity used so early on in the read made the book seem unprofessional and lowered my opinion of the author.
I actually counted and highlighted the “fucks!”
On one page, there were 14! For me, that’s far too many.
At this point in my reading, I was also trying to get a handle on what exactly the book was all about.
I made a note that said, “Is this book all about trying to ignore problems?”
Then I wrote down another quote, this time from Dr. Zeus, that said, “Unless someone cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
I then made more notes to say that it is actually the people who do care, and the people who do give a fuck, who are changing the world. Those are the ones who are innovating and finding solutions to our everyday problems. So, at this point, I was thinking, do I agree with the author, do I think that we just “shouldn’t try” and that we simply “shouldn’t care”?
Is that it?
At this point, I thought, there has to be more to the book than that, so I carried on reading, and I’m pleased to say that the book got better.
Firstly, the profanity began to disappear as the book progressed, and it finally felt as though the author did have something important to say.
Then the real lesson of the book began to come through, which was to help the reader identify what they should care about and what they shouldn’t care about.
In other words, the book helps you to see where you should be focussing your energy.
What’s the book really about?
The book covers the subjects of relationships, victimhood, uncertainty, death, failure, commitment, choice, and responsibility.
I made a note of a quote: “This book will help you choose more clearly what you find important in life and what you find unimportant.”
So, it’s not about avoiding all your problems and just concentrating on the things that make you feel good, and the author makes the important point that pain and failure may be bad, but they are also necessary and shouldn’t always be avoided.
When I got to the end of the book, I didn’t expect it to be that thought-provoking or that deep, especially from the title and my poor experience of the introduction.
My personal perspective
Those feelings and that reaction which I experienced at the end of the book could be very personal to me, and you might not feel the same.
On a personal level, I had several significant life events when I was much younger, for which I was given psychiatric help.
I was suicidal and had attempted to take my life several times. (Obviously unsuccessfully, but that’s a whole other story)
Psychology sessions were scheduled to help me understand my feelings, but none of them worked and I still wanted to exit this life.
Then one guy listened to all my woes at this troubling time. After feeling as though I had just spilled my guts to him, he nonchalantly said, “Fuck ‘em!”
That was like being smacked in the face with a wet fish! But it changed my way of thinking in a way that none of the psychologists and psychiatrists could.
And this book is rather like that but from a much more researched, thought out, analytical, and studied point of view.
The 5-stars versus the 1-stars
So, going back to my introduction where I noted a contrast between the 5-star and the 1-star reviews for this book on Amazon. I can now understand where both of those perspectives are coming from.
Remember that this book is helping you to identify what’s important (and where you should focus your energy) and what’s unimportant (and where you shouldn’t focus your energy).
If you’re like me, you want to be able to do everything, fix everything, and solve all of the world’s problems. Failing at this can have serious effects on your mental well-being. (In my case, it meant that I didn’t want to be here.) It’s in these situations where this book can have life-changing 5-star value.
But, in contrast, there are people who do this stuff naturally. They’re sensible enough to realize that every problem in the world isn’t theirs to fix and they’re not trying to carry it all on their shoulders. For these people, I can understand how they can describe this book a ‘waffle’ and of ‘little to no value’ and award the book 1-star. Because for these people, these skills are second-nature.
My overall thoughts
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” helps you to re-align your focus to what really matters and prevents you from expending precious energy on tasks and thoughts that have zero (or detrimental) value.
If you do not like reading profanity in books, then I’d give this one a miss. The introduction is especially littered with the f-word.
Although the message in the book won’t resonate with everyone, I believe it to be of great value to those who try to take on too much, those who lose the balance in life, and possibly those that suffer from slight anxiety.
Have you read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck?”
This book review is my personal opinion and experience of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.”
If you’ve read this book, share your thoughts in the comments section below. And please don’t forget to give the book your own score out of 10 by using the Reader Rating Bar in the box above.