BOOK SUMMARIES

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Book:  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Author:  Mark Manson

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Manson, M. (2016). The subtle art of not giving a f*ck : a counterintuitive approach to living a good life. New York, NY: HarperOne.

Three Big Takeaways:
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  1. Most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too much energy to situations where energy does not deserve to be given. We care too much about the rude gas station attendant who gave us our change in nickels. We give too much energy when a show we liked was canceled on TV. We give too much energy when our coworkers don’t bother asking us about our awesome weekend. If you find yourself consistently giving too much energy to trivial stuff that bothers you, chances are you don’t have much going on in your life to care about. That’s your real problem. (pg. 12)
     

  2. In the long run, completing a marathon makes us happier than eating cake. Writing a book makes us happier than beating a video game. Starting a business makes us happier than buying a new car. These activities are stressful, arduous, and often unpleasant. They also require withstanding problem after problem. Yet they are some of the most meaningful moments and joyous things we’ll ever do. They involve pain and struggle …yet once they’re accomplished, they’re the stories we’re telling our grandkids about. (pg. 85)
     

  3. Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something. If someone is better than you at something, then it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have. If someone is worse than you, it’s likely because he hasn’t been through all of the painful learning experiences you have. (pg. 144)

Other Key Ideas:​​
 

You get anxious about confronting somebody in your life. That anxiety cripples you and you start wondering why you’re so anxious. Now you’re becoming anxious about being anxious. Oh no - doubly anxious! Now you’re anxious about your anxiety, which is causing more anxiety. (pg. 6)

As we get older, we begin to notice that most of these little agitations have little lasting impact on our lives. Those people whose opinions we cared about so much before are no longer present in our lives. Rejections that were painful in the moment have actually worked out for the best. We realize how little attention people pay to the superficial details about us, and we choose not to obsess much over them. (pg. 19)

Practical enlightenment is becoming comfortable with the idea that some suffering is always inevitable - that no matter what you do, life is comprised of failures, loss, regrets, and even death. Because once you become comfortable with all that life throws at you, you become invincible in a sort of low-level spiritual way. (pg. 21)

Happiness comes from solving problems. Happiness is a form of action; it’s an activity. It doesn’t magically appear when you finally make enough money to add on that extra room to the house. Happiness is a constant work in progress. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving. (pg. 31)

People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play. (pg. 38)

Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of the gym are the ones who have chiseled abs and can bench press a small house. Those who enjoy working long weekends are the ones who fly to the top of the corporate ladder. People who enjoy the stresses of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it. (pg. 40)

All day, every day, we are flooded with the truly extraordinary. The best of the best. The flood of extreme information has conditioned us to believe that exceptionalism is the new normal. And because we’re all quite average most of the time, we start to feel insecure and desperate, because clearly we are somehow not good enough. Technology and mass marketing is screwing up a lot of people’s expectations for themselves. This inundation of exceptional makes people feel worse about themselves, makes them feel that they need to be more extreme to get noticed. (pg. 58)

The rare people who do become truly exceptional do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. They become amazing because they’re obsessed with improvement. And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring believe that they are, in fact, not great at all. People who become great at something become great because they understand that they’re not already great - they are mediocre - they are average - and that they could be so much better. (pg. 61)

People who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes. They lack the ability to take on new perspectives and empathize with others. They close themselves off to new and important information. It’s far more helpful to assume that you’re ignorant and don’t know a whole lot. This promotes a constant state of learning and growth. (pg. 83)

My ex leaving me, while one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had, was also one of the most important and influential experiences of my life. I credit it with inspiring a significant amount of personal growth. I learned more from that failure than a dozen of my successes combined. We all love to take responsibility 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. (pg. 102)

If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head. This is similar to how a novelist is able to write consistently and remain inspired: “Two hundred crappy words per day, that’s it.” The idea was that if he forced himself to write two hundred crappy words, more often than not, the act of writing would inspire him; and before he knew it, he’d have thousands of words down on the page. (pg. 156)

“Immortality projects” are projects that allow our conceptual self to live on way past the point of our physical death. Names on buildings, names on statues, names on spines of books - these will be remembered and idolized long after our physical self ceases to exist. (pg. 192)