The Subtle Art of Not Giving a FUCK
This book is a guide to suffering. Life is all about suffering. Not everything is worth suffering for. It will teach you how to suffer better and more meaningfully. And ultimately lead a good life.
Our today's culture obsessively focuses on getting more, having more and being more. All the conventional life advice is fixating on what you lack. You don't need to prove anything to anyone. You just are.
The more fucks you give about everything, the more fucked your life will be. Giving fucks about everything and everyone makes you attached to superficial and fake sense of happiness and satisfaction.
A good life is not about giving a fuck about more. It's about less. Giving fuck about only what matters, important and immediate.
The Feedback loop from hell
You get angry at yourself getting angry about being angry. You feel bad about feeling bad. You feel guilty for feeling guilty. You get anxious about getting anxious.
The consumer culture and social media has bred a idea that having negative experiences is not okay.
Our crisis is no longer material, its existential, spiritual. We are bomabarded with so many opportunites and options that we don't even know what to give fuck about anymore.
Start to give less fucks. By not giving a fuck that you feel bad, you short-circuit the Feedback loop from Hell, you say to yourself, "I feel like shit, but who gives a fuck?"
The desire for more positive experience in itself is a negative experience. And, the acceptance of one's negative experience si itself a positive experience.
The more desperate you are for having something, the farther you will get from that thing.
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.. "Albert Camus"
Pursuing the negatives in life generates positives. The pain you pursue in the gym results in better all around health and energy. Failure in businesses is what leads to betters understanding of what's necessary to be successful. Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.
The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.
To not give a fuck is to stare down at life's most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action.
You can't go on living a good life giving fucks about everything. So what should you give fucks about. Give fucks only about what matters to you.
The subtle art of not giving a fuck
- Subtelty #1: Not giving a fuck doesn't mean being indifferent. It means being comfortable with being different
- Subtelty #2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.
- Subtelty #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about
Happiness is a Problem
Life is all about suffering. And suffering sucks.
There is no value in suffering when it's done without purpose.
The rich suffer because of riches, poor because of poverty. People without family suffer because they have no family and people with family suffer because they have family.
Not all suffering is equal. But we must suffere nonetheless.
We suffer because suffering is biologically useful. We've evolved to live with a certain degree of dissatisfaction and insecurity. That's what made us do the work to innovate and survive.
We humans are wired to be dissatisfied with what we have and satisfied by only what we do not have.
Happiness comes from solving problems
Don't hope for a life without problems. There's no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems.
Problems never stop. You will always have them. You make yourself miserable by avoiding problems.
To be happy, you need something to solve. Happiness therefore is a form of action, not an activity.
Happiness is a work-in-progress. Because solving problems is too. The solution to today's problem will lay a foundation to tomorrow's problems and so on.
The formula: Solve problems, be Happy.
Most people either deny their problems or choose the victim mentality. They choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problem. Denial and victim mentality makes them think that they can escape problems of life. This only leads to a quick rush to make them feel better. This ultimately will make them miserable.
Emotions are overrated
Emotions evolved to help us live and reproduce better. Emotions are biological signals designed to nudge you in the direction of beneficial change.
If you feel like shit, its your brain signaling that there's a problem that's unresolved.
Negative emotions are a call to action. Positive emotions on the other hand are the rewards for taking proper action.
Living a life based on emotions only is a shitty thing to do. Because guess what. Who does so? Three-year-kids and dogs. And what else do they do? Shit on the carpet.
What makes you happy will not make you happy tomorrow. Biology always seeks something more.
Choose your struggle
There's no form of ultimate happiness that can be attained. You can't allievate all of your suffering permanently. You can never be fulfilled and satisfied with your life.
Everybody enjoys what feels good. Everyone wants a happy and easy life, to fall in love, have and amazing relationship, perfect health and money. It's easy to want that.
But a better question people never consider is:
What pain you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?
Yeah, everyone wants to have an amazing relationship, but not everyone is willing to go through tough conversations, hurt feelings. and the emotional psycho drama to get there.
Good things in life don't sprout out of the ground. You have to work for it. You have to engage in the negative experiences and not avoid them.
What pain do you want to sustain?
It's easy to want to reward. But do you want the struggle that comes with it?
Our struggles define our successes.
You're not special
Today's people feel entitled. They believe they are unique, exceptional, and special. Entitlement is a failed strategy. It's a high, not happiness.
The true measurement of a persons self-worth is not how a person feels about his positivite experiences, but rather hwo he feels about his negative experiences.
The tyranny of exceptionalism
Most of us are pretty average at most things we do. But its the ones on the extreme spectrum that get all of the publicity. The consumer culture and social media has made us to believe that exceptionalism is the new normal. "You can't be average. You are extraordinary", they say.
But as a matter of fact, we all are pretty average.
Technology has solved old economical problems by giving us new psychological problems.
If I'm not going to be extraordinary, what's the point?
People who become truly exceptional at something become so not because they believe they're exceptional. But because they believe they are mediocre. And obsess over improving.
The Value of Suffering
If suffering is inevitable in life, it the problems are unavoidable, then the question is not "How do I stop suffering?" but "Why am I suffering- for what purpose?"
Purpose gives your suffering a meaning.
Our values underline everything we are and do. We get to control what our problems and suffering means to us bease on how we choose to think about them.
If you want to change how you see your problems, you have to change what you value and how you measure life.
- Pleasure: It's a false god. Pleasure is not the cause of happiness. It's the effect, by-product. It's a horrible way value to prioritize your life around pleasure.
- Material success: Its a status symbol and a shallow measure of life.
- Always being right: Our brains are inefficient machines. We are always making mistakes.
- Staying positive: By forcing ourselves to stay positive all the time, we deny the existence of our life's problems.
In the long-run completing a marathon makes us happier than eating a chocolate cake. Staring a business with friend while struggling to make ends meet makes us happier than buying a new computer. Stressful, often unpleasant, negative experiences are some of the most meaningful and joyous things we'll ever do.
Defining good and bad values
- Good values
- socially constructive
- Immediate and controllable
- Bad values
- Socially destructive
- Not immediate or controllable.
You are Always Choosing
When we feel that we're choosing our problems, we feel empowered. When we feel that our problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimized and miserable.
We don't control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond. Choosing not to respond is also a reponse.
There's a saying,"With great power comes a great responsibility." But the better version of this is:
"With great responsibility comes great power"
The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives.
Most people avoid responsibility for problems in their lives. Because if they take it, they are also at fault of their problems. Fault is a past tense. Responsibility is present.
Taking responsibility for our problems is where we learn new things. That's where real self-improvement comes from.
To blame others for your problems is to hurt yourself.
Responding to Tragedy
A lot of things that happen to you are not your fault. But still its your responsibility. Blaming others gives you a temporary high and a feeling of moral righteousness.
"Do or do not. There is no how."
You are wrong about everything
Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we don't go from being wrong to being right. We go from being wrong to being slightly less wrong.
Most people are obsessed with being right all the time.
Instead of striving for certainity, you should be in constant search of doubt.
The human mind is capable of coming with and believing in a bunch of bullshit that isn't real. What we understand as "meaning" is generated when our brain associates between two or more experiences.
And when we create meaning, our brains are designed to hold on that meaning. We don't want to let go of it, even when its wrong.
Most of our beliefs are wrong. In fact, all of our beliefs are wrong, some are just slightly less wrong that others.
The dangers of certainty
The more you try to be certain about something, the more certain and insecure you will feel. And the converse, the more you embrace being uncertain, the more comfortable you will feel in knowing what you don't know.
Because the only way to solve our problems is admitting that our actions and beliefs up to this point have been wrong and not working.
Manson's law of avoidance
The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.
You are comfortable in your own zone. Anything that shakes up the comfort, even if it could make your life better- is inherently scary.
We all have values for ourselves. We protect these values. We try to live up to them and justify and maintain them. Even if we don't mean to, that's how our brain is wired.
The idea of 'You' is an arbitrary mental construction you should let go of. Free yourself from the stories you tell about yourselves. When you let go of your identity, ideas that threatens you will be less. You will be more open to new viewpoints and ideas, and beliefs.
The narrower and rarer the identity you choose, the more everything seems to threatens you. So define yourself in the simplest and the most ordinary ways. Be a student, partner, friend, creator.
How to be a little less certain of yourself?
- Question yourself
- What if I am wrong?: We're a very bad observers of ourselves. We're the last ones to figure out about our mistakes
- What would it mean if I were wrong?:
- What being wrong create a better or a worse problem that my current problem for both myself and others?
Failure is the Way Forward
The failure or success paradox
To improve you have to go through thousands of failure. The more successful a person is at certain thing, the more times he has failed at that that thing.
If someone is better than you, its because he failed at it more than you have.
Learning is a painful experience. You don't learn to walk out of mother's womb. Avoiding failure is something we learn at some later point in life. Maybe its the fault in our education system.
We can be truly successful only at something that we're willing to fail at.
Pain is the Part of the process
For most of us, the proudest moments come in the face of greatest adversity. Its the pain that makes us stronger, more resilient and more grounded.
It's important to feel pain. If you chase temporary highs to escape the pain, you will end up miserable.
When you choose new values, you are choosing a new form of pain into your life. Welcome with your open arms. And act despite it.
Life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway.
The "Do Something" Principle
If you don't know what to do, if you don't have any idea. Don't just sit there. Do something. The answers will follow.
Action isn't the effect of motivation; It's also the cause of it.
Your action creates further emotional reactions and inspirations and move on to motivate your future actions. Forcing yourself even through menial tasks will make the larger task seem much easier.
The Importance saying No
Rejection makes your life better
We need to reject something. Otherwise, we stand for nothing.
We must give a fuck about something, in order to value something. And to value something, we must reject what is not that something. To value X, we must reject non-X.
We're defined by what we choose to reject. If we don't, we have no identity at all.
Healthy love is based on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problem with each other's support. You both should support each other. But only because you choose to support and be supported. Not because you feel obligated or entitled.
The real demonstration of love is taking responsibility of your own problems and not holding your partner responsible for them.
If you make sacrifice for someone, it should be because you want to, not because you are obligated or feel the fear of consequences of not doing so.
Acts of love are only valid when they're performed without conditions or expectations.
Freedom through committment
More is not always better. We are often happy with less. The more options we have, the less satisfied we become.
Investing and being committed to one person, one profession, or one place might deny us the breadth of experience, but it rewards with the depth of experiences.
When pursuing breadth of experience, there are diminishing returns to the additional experiences. The more experienced you get, the less significantly each new experience affects you.
There is freedom and liberation in commitment.
Breadth of experience is likely necessary when you are young. It allows you to go out and discover what's worth investing yourself into.
Then you die
Death scares us. That's why we don't think about it often. But in the face of death, every thing vanishes, disappears. In order to appreaciate life more and remain humble in the face of adversisites, always keep death in find.
We let the trivial and hateful values hijack our brains and take control of your desire and ambitions.
Happiness always comes from the same thing: caring about something greater than yourself. believing that you are contributing component in some large entity and your life is but a mere side process of some great unintelligible production.
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.