Through the book Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck : A Counter Intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, the author, Mark Manson, seeks to normalize accepting negative emotions, fears, flaws and uncertainties, and how we can embrace these emotions to move forward in life.
Today I am not going to review this book or tell you whether you should read it or not (oh, you totally should btw!). Instead, I am going to take you through some theories from the book that totally blew my mind!
1. Have problems you enjoy dealing with
When we think about an ideal life, we think about having everything that we desire. We also don’t want to face any problems – personal or professional, material or immaterial. However, from personal experience we know that it is impossible to live a life with no problems. Even if we do not have real problems, we tend to create some (why don’t I have enough followers on Instagram? why has she been avoiding me? my phone has terrible battery!!). Honestly that is the truth of life. You can never not-have problems. Mark rightly points out that we tend to worry about trivial problems when we don’t have much to do with our lives.
“Don’t hope for a life without problems. There is no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving”– Mark Manson
You may ask what good problems are… Well, they are problems that you would enjoy solving. They are problems that would allow you to grow and to be a better person. It can range from ‘Why am I not being productive today?’ ‘I wish I knew how to drive!’ to ‘What can I do to end poverty in India?’ ‘ I want to start my own company but do not have enough money! ‘
2. Staying positive is a shitty value to have
“I haven’t studied for the test. I don’t think I can take it.“
“Oh no! Don’t worry. You’ll do great! Be positive!!”
“I have a drinking problem.”
“Be positive! This too shall pass!”
How many times have we told or been told to stay positive? And how effective has it been?
Staying positive about situations definitely gives us hope. But it shouldn’t be the solution to every problem. The author very well describes how it is okay to have and to accept negative emotions. Addressing our problems and taking our time to deal with them is much healthier than denying them!
“Remember, nobody who is actually happy has to stand in front of a mirror and tell himself that he’s happy. Sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it”– Mark Manson
These lines really brought a grin on my face because, at some point in our lives, we have all read self-help books that preach the same and we are guilty of at least having thought about practicing this exercise.
3. With great power comes great responsibility
After reading this title, you probably thought you should skip this theory because this is a lesson we have been learning since childhood (Spiderman reference). But hear me out. The book quotes “With great responsibility comes great power.” Read that again.
A few months ago, I was cribbing to a friend about how sad I was because I was a bitch to someone and wished that I was a better person (I probably did not have better problems at that point). She then asked me to get my shit together and do something about it. Take responsibility for my actions. My problem was that I treated someone badly at some point and did not want to blame myself for it. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I did not know better. But I decided to take responsibility for it, which made me feel a lot better – like I was in control of my emotions.
“Fault is past tense. Responsibility is present tense. Fault results from choices that have already been made. Responsibility results from choices you are currently making. Nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you.”– Mark Manson
4. Never know who you are. Values are not constant.
This theory surprised me, because all I have been wanting to do from the past couple of years is to find myself. Maybe that is the case for most of you out there. It is good to know who you are. We are taught certain values in childhood and we learn some along the way. We have also been told to live by a certain value system. This may not work in our favor at all times. I believe that I am straightforward. I have very strong opinions and I do not try to sugar coat them. Honestly, this has gotten me in a lot of trouble at times. We tend to use our “values” and our “personality type” as an excuse to justify the way we behave. We need to be able to change how we see ourselves in every situation.
“Knowing yourself or finding yourself can be dangerous. It can cement you into a strict role and saddle you with unnecessary expectations. I say don’t find yourself.”– Mark Manson
I have picked out some of my favorite theories from this book which I could relate to on a personal level. There are a lot more and I cannot possibly do justice to the entire book in just one blog post. Some theories in this book are questionable while some are more acceptable and easy to practice. There can be different interpretations of the same theories for different people, and that is the beauty of this book. It makes you wonder, gives you a reality check, and even scares you at times (Ex: when he talks about having problems to remain happy). You may be unconsciously practicing these theories in your life, and feeling shitty about it because they’re not “conventional methods“. Whether you believe in his methods or not, do give it a read. I’m positive (no pun intended) that it’ll broaden your perspective. 🙂