“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k”, a counter intuitive approach to living a good life

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The book as opposed to its crude title, essentially talks about learning to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively; how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values. It is about values and how people often misplace our values, putting too much emphasis on things that don’t really hold value to our lives; and not enough emphasis on the things that are truly important to oneself.

As mentioned in the blurb of the book, ‘Manson brings a much needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eyes moment of real-talk’. The author honestly shares his view that this book will not teach you to gain and achieve, but rather how to lose and let go. It will teach you to take inventory of your life and scrub out all but the most important items. The suggestions and argument that he puts forth make lot of sense and also stand relatively true to the current context of how we live our lives. He admits that the suggestions proposed are incredibly difficult and it will take a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve it. Moreover, also very realistically reminds the reader that you can fail, but it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life.

In summary, he writes about how happiness can also be derived from solving problems and to choose life’s struggles. Once you accept you’re “normal”, it’s liberating. And you will be able to enjoy the boring beautiful side of life: friendships, reading a good book, laughing, creating something. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we certainly can choose what it means to us and how we respond to it. There are also questions; to help be a less certain about yourself in order to overcome the normal human tendency of possessing pure certainty over one’s action and thoughts. He breaks down the idea of how pain is part of the process to achieve something bigger, also to overcome rejections and also build boundaries to seek freedom through commitment. Ultimately, Manson speaks of ‘Death’ being the most certain end to all. He say the only way to be comfortable with death is to understand and see yourself as something bigger than yourself; to choose values that stretch beyond serving yourself, that are a simple and immediate and controllable and tolerant of the chaotic world around you. This is the basic root of all happiness.”

This book is highly recommended for someone who need to emotionally touch base and reflect on one’s objective and actions in life. My personal observation is that Manson has largely written the book based on the principles of Buddhism. His use of simple and funny stories makes it a very light yet profound read. It can be a book that can be read and re-read, if put into practices it can be a good guide to improve your life in every aspect.

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Reviewed by on July 15th, 2018