The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson

Our society promises a lot of things.

The most recent sales funnel promises to make you wealthy. Weight-loss hacks promise to make you sexy. All-things entertainment promise to make you happy.

Sadly, while marketers talk a good talk, these products always leave us wanting more.

Even if we do make more money, lose weight, or laugh at the movie, the experience never fills us in the way we wanted. And we’re left feeling empty and incomplete.

This is because no product can make you happy or successful, no matter how innovative.

The real key to living a full life isn’t found in some magical pill, but in the way we perceive ourselves, those around us, the pain we’re going through, and the impact we’re having.

That probably sounds a little fleeting.

To explain, here’s 8 mindset shifts taken straight from Mark Manson that you need to make if you’re ever going to be happy and successful.

1. Give Less F*cks. Not more.

Everyone and their mom wants us to care about something.

Your neighbor wants you to mow your lawn more often. Clients want you to work more for less pay. Your family wants you to do something about the most recent drama. Constant advertisements want you to “buy this” or “invest in that.” Teachers want you to get good grades. Society wants you to make a lot of money. And your audience wants you to be perfectly inspirational all the time.

When you really think about the demands that we go through every day, it’s no wonder that when we get home, shut the door, and close the blinds, we do nothing but sit and look at screens for the better part of the evening.

We can’t stand to look at ourselves.

It starts to feel like every day is a series of trying to please the right people and the right demands. Obviously, this isn’t a recipe for happiness.

Despite what every person with an agenda will tell you, the answer isn’t in caring about more things, but in caring about less things.

The answer is in choosing the right things to care about. And we’re going to talk about how you can determine what f*cks you should give.

“Our crisis is no longer material; it’s existential, it’s spiritual. We have so much fucking stuff and so many opportunities that we don’t even know what to give a fuck about anymore.”

2. Don’t Live For Pleasure.

I wish this went without saying.

Many of the things that we chase — money, glory, and sex — are completely based on pleasure. We want money because we’ll be attractive to the world. We want fame because then everyone will like us. We want that nice car because then we’ll be sexy to the right people.

I get it.

Pleasure is tempting. But it’s not just tempting, it’s addicting. We experience it once, twice, and then we can’t help but pursue it. We think to ourselves, “I was so happy when that thing was pleasuring me.” But as with all addictions, we’re left feeling empty.

A life lived for pleasure isn’t much of a life.

Don’t pursue pleasure. It’s fleeting, it’s not worth your time, and your capable of doing so much more.

Do what you need to remove pleasure from your motivation with counseling, meditation, or a gratitude journal.

“Pleasure is a false god. Research shows that people who focus their energy on superficial pleasures end up more anxious, more emotionally unstable, and more depressed. Pleasure is the most superficial form of life satisfaction and therefore the easiest to obtain and the easiest to lose.”

3. Choose Your Favorite Pain.

Pain is inevitable.

Brands tell us we can escape pain by just buying their product. Religions tell us we just have to suffer through this life and then there’s a painless reality waiting on the other side. And people say they’re sorry for our pain when they did nothing to cause it.

We live in a world that tries desperately to avoid pain.

But the reality is far less exciting and significantly more freeing: Pain is inevitable.

Regardless of the choices you make, you will suffer.

The person who abstains from sex before marriage suffers because they aren’t having sex. The person who has sex before marriage suffers because of their multiple intimate relationships.

The person who keeps their day job suffers because they never pursue their dreams. The person who starts their own business suffers because starting a business has so many challenges.

The person who drinks alcohol suffers from the occasional hangover. The person who doesn’t drink alcohol suffers because they never enjoy the experience.

The point? Pain is inevitable.

This means that it’s far less important to try and avoid pain with your choices and far more important to choose the pain you’d like to endure. The best business person is the one who loves the process of business. Not the result. The best writer is the person who loves the writing, editing, and revision process. Not the result.

In other words, you have to discover one thing to determine where to place your f*cks:

What pain are you willing to endure over and over again because you love the process so much? 

Answer that question and you’ve discovered the very thing that you should commit your life to.

“Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it. To try to avoid pain is to give too many fucks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a fuck about the pain, you become unstoppable.”

4. Use Action To Motivate Yourself.

Don’t wait to act until you’re motivated.

Many people sit around their house waiting for that special dose of inspiration before creating that product, writing that book, or tackling that presentation. But doing so isn’t just inefficient, it’s unpredictable.

What if you never get motivated? Most people in this world never do anything particularly extraordinary because they never had the motivation to pursue their dreams.

Luckily, Mark Manson has a hack.

Instead of waiting around for motivation to knock on the door, do something. Even something miniscule. Don’t have the motivation to start writing a book? Just work on a rough outline for a few minutes. Don’t have the motivation to get up early in the morning? Just go to the bathroom. Don’t have the motivation to go to the gym? Just put on your exercise clothes for now.

What’s fascinating is that when we act, no matter how minuscule and seemingly insignificant the action, we can use the small amount of motivation that came from it to pursue the next step. And before you know it, you’ve built a thriving business on a series of small steps.

Start small and keep using baby steps to motivate your next action.

“The mere action itself inspires new thoughts and ideas which lead us to solving the problems in our lives. But that new insight never comes if we simply sit around contemplating it.”

5. Take Responsibility For Everything.

When I first read that, I thought, “Uhhh…. hell no.”

And then Mark Manson explained what he meant.

He didn’t mean that we should consider ourselves at fault for everything bad that happens to us. He didn’t mean that we should count ourselves at fault every time a friend dies, a relationship breaks, or a client doesn’t pay their bills.

What he did mean is that, regardless of who’s at fault, we still have to deal with it.

It doesn’t do us any good to complain about or avoid a problem that’s on our doorstep. We still are responsible for how we handle the things that happen in our life.

For example, if someone leaves a baby on your doorstep, you might not be at fault for that happening, but you’re still responsible to do something about it. Count yourself responsible for everything that happens in your life and you’ll find that you deal with problems faster, more appropriately, and with less complaining.

“We all love to take responsibility for success and happiness. Hell, we often fight over who gets to be responsible for success and happiness. But taking responsibility for our problems is far more important, because that’s where the real learning comes from. That’s where the real-life improvement comes from.”

6. Always Be Wrong.

To believe that the human brain, specifically your human brain, is infallible is ridiculous.

Although a dog might think it knows all it needs to know about life, we would argue that it doesn’t. Why then do we assume that we are capable of knowing things so perfectly? Couldn’t another, smarter being theoretically come along and say the same thing about us that we would say about the dog?

The reality is that we are all far more wrong than we’d like to admit.

And the sooner we realize that, the better.

Let me explain.

People who believe they’re right about most everything never are looking to improve their information, their opinions, or their expertise. They are simply content in believing that they know all there is to know.

But a person who believes they are always wrong, perhaps just a bit less wrong than they used to be, is always seeking to learn. And the person who is always seeking to learn will skyrocket past the competition.

Always consider yourself wrong so that you can learn new information. Just be a little less wrong each day.

“In five hundred years, people will point and laugh at how we let our money and our jobs define our lives. They will laugh at how we were afraid to show appreciation for those who matter to us most. They will laugh at our rituals and superstitions, our worries and our wars. They will gawk at our cruelty. They will study our art and argue over our history. They will understand truths about us of which none of us are even aware of yet.

And we will have been wrong about pretty much everything. Just as they will be wrong about everything too, albeit a little less wrong.”

7. Consider Yourself Average.

Similar to believing yourself wrong, also count yourself as average.

Growing up, most of us were told that we were exceptional. We were given trophies for nothing more than participating. We were given B’s for shoddy work. We were taught, that despite our lack of accomplishments and careless attitude, we are special.

Sadly, they lied.

The very definition of someone who is exceptional is someone who is better than average. And the definition of the average person is the majority of people. So if you think that you’re above average… I have bad news for you.

You’re not.

But that’s a good thing. Now you can let go of all those stupid expectations people put on you, telling you that you’re better than everyone else and you’re going to change the world because of it. Now you can live your life as a totally average person.

What’s the beauty in that?

Believe that your average and you have room to grow. Believe that your exceptional and you’ll never have a reason to grow. With an understanding that you’re no better than everyone else, you’ll have the necessary humility to become extraordinary.

Thinking you’re average is far more powerful than thinking you’re exceptional. Do what you can to maintain a mindset of mediocrity.

“The people who become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they are obsessed with improvement. And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all. That they are mediocre. That they are average. And that they can be so much better.”

8. Never Discover Who You Are.

Finding yourself is overrated.

If you find yourself, then you become limited by what you found. Think of the introvert-extrovert phenomenon, for example.

Most people who consider themselves one or the other count themselves as being blessed in a certain way that others aren’t.

Introverts think of themselves as the quiet and wise type.

Extroverts think of themselves as lucky to be so charismatic and good at talking.

But then, something happens. Eventually, the introvert is feeling talkative in a certain group of people but they repress the desire because their identity is different than that. Similarly, the extrovert is not in the mood to talk but forces himself to because he feels that other people expect it of him.

When we decide who we are or aren’t, we force ourselves to create that reality by the way we act.

Instead of discovering who you are, Mark Mason suggests that you get comfortable with being lost.

Personality and temperament aren’t so simple as we make them. Every person is a series of current passions, lost desires, temporary hopes, and fleeting dreams. Our day-in and day-out lives will be a result of how we’re currently feeling.

Plus, if you never define yourself, you’ll be free to do, think, believe, and grow in many more ways than you would be otherwise.

“People declare themselves experts, entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, mavericks, and coaches without any real-life experience. And they do this not because they actually think they are greater than everybody else; they do it because they feel that they need to be great to be accepted in a world that broadcasts only the extraordinary.

Don’t Chase Success.

I know that everyone is promising you happiness. I know that everyone is promising that they have the answer to taking your business to the 7 or 8 figure level.

Here’s what you have to do: Stop chasing after success.


Because success isn’t a big enough dream, an ambitious enough goal, or a tangible enough result.

Instead, chase the process. Chase the day-in and day-out grind of doing what you love to do. Chase improving the craft you commit your life to. Like a 50-year long marriage, learn to love what it is you’re doing.

The people who change the world aren’t the people who chase every squirrel that runs by, they’re the people who commit themselves to something that’s f*ck-worthy.

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