“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***”: A Review

2020 is officially in full swing. New Years has passed, and you know what that means: Writing the wrong date on papers and, more importantly, setting goals to better ourselves. While most people are probably hitting the gym and buying some new products, my personal goal for 2020 is to better myself as a person, and I encourage all of you to do the same. My recommendation? Read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson.

I bought this book when I was a junior in high school. It caught my eye because it didn’t look like the typical self-help book—and it’s not. The description of the book reads “improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but learning to better stomach lemons.” This is a pretty good summary of Manson’s ideas. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** is not all butterflies and rainbows—but neither is life. This book shows you how to look at life realistically, and finding happiness by accepting that things go wrong. 

One of the main ideas covered in this book is defining your values. Of course, everyone wants to be popular, rich, and famous. However, as Manson says, these are not good values because they are out of your control. You can’t control how much other people like you, just as much as Michael Kelso can’t control the weather, Jackie. On the other hand, good values—honesty, kindness, humility—are things that we can achieve through our own actions. In order to work on ourselves, we have to choose things that we are actually able to work on. 

Ultimately, Manson focuses on the idea that happiness is a feeling that we achieve within our own minds. Everyone suffers; life is not kind. However, the beauty of it is that you can choose what you want to suffer for. By choosing to strive for things that really mean something to you, you can find joy in overcoming challenges, and live out a meaningful life. Yes, life can suck. Yes, most of it is out of your control. Instead of pushing against hardships, Manson suggests that we accept them and grow.

I enjoy Manson’s work because he is brutally honest, and it allows me to be brutally honest with myself. I’m a perfectionist, and I often catch myself being fixated on trying to fix everything that is wrong with myself, all at once. But this is not realistic. Instead, I am learning how to focus on little things, one step at a time. Progress, rather than perfection. Every one of us has flaws, and it’s often better to acknowledge and accept them. I trust Manson as a writer because he doesn’t sugarcoat things and he doesn’t lie. Sometimes we need to hear the truth about how we’re living our lives, even if it isn’t something that we particularly want to hear.

I have read this book a couple of times now, and overall, I would openly suggest it to anyone that is trying to work on their character in the coming year. Mark Manson also has an Instagram page (@markmanson) where he posts little bits of advice for his followers. I believe that Manson has a lot of solid, realistic ideas that force you to take a look at yourself from a logical and honest angle. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants a fresh perspective on self-improvement.