M.C. Reads: The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck

Summer reads usually end up being some of my favourite books, mostly because there is zero pressure and you don't feel guilty reading fluff. Some of you might never experience this "guilt" but take it from someone who has attempted to read War and Peace six times, and failed, the struggle is real. #nerdalert #noshameinmygame

So I recently picked up a copy of Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck from an airport bookstore. Given the mood I was in, (upgrade denied), it seemed highly appropriate and I had been following Mark Manson's blog on life advice for years (and look how great things are going! #maga). 

We are anxious because we have come to believe, in our squishy millennial hearts, that we are entitled to feel happy and comfortable at all times.
— Sabine Kharabian

The basic premise of the book is relatively simple. For the sake of keeping this article rated G, and because autocorrect makes it easy, let's say that you have a limited amount of "ducks" to give in life. Most of us give away our "ducks" for everything, even if it is not particularly quack-worthy, (yeah I went there). This is because we have come to believe in our squishy millennial hearts that we are entitled to feel happy and comfortable at all times. Manson reminds us that this idea is not only inaccurate but toxic, perpetuated by social media, and that in fact, much of life is actually suffering. 

If you believe that you constantly deserve to be happy and fulfilled without struggle, then you are setting yourself up for failure and unhappiness. Thinking about the impact of social media these days, it's hard not to identify with this logic. Instagram makes almost everyone feel inadequate, fat, poor, ugly and gives me serious FOMO. Even when we remind ourselves that most of what we see isn't authentic, it still gets under the skin somehow. 

Constant positivity is a form of avoidance, not a valid solution to life’s problems - problems which, if you’re choosing the right values and metrics, should be invigorating you and motivating you.
— Mark Manson

Manson suggests that the way to combat this idea is to start by acknowledging it, and then to seriously prioritize the things we care about based on what we truly value in our lives. The caveat is you have to care about something - because apathy is not a healthy option. And the good news is, you mostly get to decide what kind of "suffering" to endure in life. So the question then becomes "what are you willing to struggle for?" (Martinis is apparently not a good answer).  Manson points out that "happiness requires struggle. It grows from problems. Joy doesn't just sprout out of the ground like daisies and rainbows. Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through the choosing and managing of our struggles."  #deepthoughts

So choosing what kinds of struggles and problems we are going to allow into our lives really becomes the core of happiness. You have to love the process not just the outcome. Growing up I always thought I wanted to be a famous musician - but I didn't actually want to do the things required to achieve it. I didn't choose the struggles of tireless practicing and constant rejection. I hated practicing and I turned away from performing even though I was a good singer. I didn't love the process, I just liked the idea of the outcome. Conversely, the opposite is true about writing, it's largely about the process. I love sitting down and getting my thoughts on paper, even if no one will ever read it. So, play to your strengths. 


The latter part of Manson's book is based on how to implement change by breaking down our current ideas about ourselves, including ties to our "personal identity". He states that the more something threatens your identity (or self narrative), the more you will avoid it. For example, if you believe you're unlucky in love, you will likely avoid relationships that could challenge that perception. He also gives some specific insights on uncovering our own values. He sums it up perfectly as such "if it feels like it's you versus the world, chances are it's really just you versus yourself."

All in all, this book is a solid read. Manson's writing is accessible, easy reading and really funny at times. And besides, at $20 dollars it is way way cheaper than therapy. Highly recommended.