- “Everything is F*cked” by Mark Manson is a unique exploration of hope and despair in the modern world, providing an unconventional perspective on happiness and meaning in life.
- If you’re ready to challenge your views on hope, happiness, and the human condition, dive into “Everything is F*cked” and discover a refreshing and thought-provoking take on finding meaning in our chaotic world.
Why is it that in this age of progress, we’re more depressed than ever? The answer to that question lies within “Everything is F*cked,” and it may surprise you.
A sobering primer for our age.
READ THIS BOOK REVIEW IF YOU:
- Want to get to the bottom of modern angst
- Worry about where humanity is headed
- Are in need of a refreshing new philosophy to live by
Table of Contents
You might have heard from popular authors like Hans Rosling and Steven Pinker that things aren’t as bad as they seem. After all, statistics show a marked decline in war, famine, and poverty worldwide. So why do we still feel like crap?
When faced with problems of our own and the statistical reality that depression has been sharply on the rise in recent years, it’s hard to agree with the assessment that the world is improving. The better off we are, the more anxious we become.
The truth is that hope has nothing to do with statistics or with the solutions their falling graphs asymptotically suggest. Rather, hope rests on the shoulders of problems that remain to be solved.
In a technovisual climate saturated with Hulks, Wonder Women, and other fantastical superheroes, we sometimes forget that real-life heroes are far more inspiring. Witold Pilecki is one of these heroes.
Pilecki earned his stripes in the Polish-Soviet War of 1918, moving to the countryside thereafter to start a family. But then Hitler came rolling through Poland from the West, while the Soviets did the same from the East. Pilecki emerged victorious against both sides before spearheading an underground resistance movement in Warsaw.
When news of Auschwitz reached Pilecki, he took it upon himself to sneak into the complex in an attempt to incite mutiny and escape with as many prisoners as possible in tow. His plan pushed so hard against logic that even his superiors refused to support it. Having no other choice, he allowed himself to be arrested and was taken by the SS to the already-infamous death camp. He witnessed inhumanity beyond anything he’d heard, but nevertheless managed to put together a robust intelligence network within the camp, even building a transistor radio from scratch to get messages to the outside.
The Polish Secret Army didn’t believe his reports of the horrors being inflicted upon the Jews; neither did London’s Allied Command, who deemed his intelligence rife with exaggeration. By 1943, when it was clear that no one was listening and that mutiny would be impossible, Pilecki planned and executed a successful escape.
Such stories, as harrowing as they are, should be a reminder that nothing in our daily lives can hold a candle to the hardships faced by someone like Witold Pilecki, no matter how bad our problems might seem. As we fret over “first-world problems,” people are risking their lives on a daily basis to ensure that we have the luxury of doing so. True heroism, then, isn’t defined solely by bravery, but by one’s ability to offer hope when hope seems a world away.
We’ve probably all been brave at one point or another. But heroism connects to grander, more-selfless causes in the context of which personal sacrifice feels like a small price to pay for the greater good. Our need for heroes is symptomatic of the fact that we’ve lost perspective on the “why?” that drove our predecessors to action. Pilecki held onto hope even as the mouth of hell itself was closing itself around him — and here we are, losing our minds when Starbucks gets our order wrong.
Pilecki never backed down. After fleeing Auschwitz, he turned his attention to the Soviets, who eventually captured him, tortured him, and sentenced him to death. That he held onto his principles and dedication to his homeland to the very end should be a sobering reminder — one too often ignored — of the uncomfortable truth of our own mortality. Whether we expire from natural causes or at the hands of an enemy, we are ultimately unimportant in the cosmic scheme of things, and we hide from that fact through endless efforts to make meaning out of everything. The universe doesn’t care about us; only we do. Realization of this hopelessness is the cause of our anxieties, fears, and depression. It drives us to work ourselves into the ground while ignoring that ground as our final resting place.
Our minds are hardwired to create stories out of everything, turning that dollar bill we find on the sidewalk into a sign of luck, that death of a loved one into an inspiration to live better, that spilled morning coffee into an omen of a bad day. We read and write countless words about the purpose of life, find solace in religion, and explain the world away through science. And that’s OK. Whatever narrative you tell yourself is yours alone, and that makes it meaningful enough.
So what if the moon and the stars keep moving through the sky with or without you? So what if the world is fucked beyond recognition? So what if you don’t achieve everything you set out to achieve? Whatever beliefs you hold dear, let them guide you through any challenge. Life is a constellation of myriad hopes, each as real as the last. Now’s the time to find yours. Let it be your weapon against nihilism.
The Classic Assumption
We judge each other based on what might be called the “Classic Assumption,” which idealizes the rational mind and its relationship to our emotions. Smokers, for example, know that what they’re doing is harmful, yet keep doing it. In the same breath, we praise the CEO who falls asleep at his desk every night for a month, neglecting his family to get that all-important project done, as someone of great determination. Riding on the Classic Assumption train as we all are, we tend to think that something is wrong with us when we don’t live up to expectations, which leads to unrealistic mantras of self-help and change. We do this every time we make a New Year’s resolution: “This year, I’ll lose weight.” “This year, I’ll stop drinking.”
Beneath it all, however, our selves stay the same.
Our objective thinking brains and our subjective feeling brains rarely see eye-toeye. Conscious problems, like paying rent on time and fixing a car, have equations and guidelines to see us through, but emotional problems come without roadmaps. This is why the smoker would rather risk cancer than quit: They know it’s better for them to throw those cigarettes away, but it sure doesn’t feel better. In this scenario, the thinking brain is really playing second fiddle to the feeling brain, but believes itself to be the conductor. Those who reject their feeling brains become indifferent to the world around them, and those who reject their thinking brains grow selfish, impulsive, and even delusional. As long as the thinking brain doesn’t accept the feeling brain on its terms, the feeling brain’s most helpful impulses will never bear fruit.
Emotions exist on a hierarchy, whether we like it or not. We’re constantly weighing them on an imaginary moral scale. Our allegiance to the idea of karma, that what goes around comes around, is quintessential evidence of this human trait. But here’s the thing: The emotional values we attach to every aspect of our lives are intimately connected to the hierarchies we construct around them.
Say, for example, you’re a college sophomore whose off-time priorities include partying, drugs, and sleep, in that order. Over the summer, you do a study abroad program in a developing country and see firsthand the reality of abject poverty. You return home, determined to make a difference. Suddenly, helping the needy has jumped to the top of your priority list, pushing partying and everything that goes along with it all the way down to the bottom. You spend your time conducting research, doing volunteer work, and applying for internships. Your friends may pity you for the amount of time you spend reading when you could be partying, which is still fun for them — just not for you. Something more important has taken its place in your emotional hierarchy. You’ve found hope.
The best way to cultivate hope is to start a religion, not in the sense of forming a cult, but by drawing on the principles of sharing values, enhancing action through group affiliation, and making a sustainable living while doing it. To do this, you need a hopeful message to sell, faith in that message, and a willingness to share it in the spirit of truth. Spiritual religions are especially powerful in this regard for offering hope beyond the uncomfortable truth of death. Ideological religions do the same by ensuring us that nothing is our fault. And interpersonal religions like politics offer the possibility of finding salvation in leadership. Whichever path you walk, remember that in life, as in business, promises of heaven can only persist when delivering hell in their place. Anyone who truly had the ability to make our problems disappear just like that would go bankrupt tomorrow. That’s why it’s important to remember that …
Everything is Fucked
The difference between a child and an adult is that the adult has learned to move beyond pleasure and into principles. Adolescence typically confuses the two, making for some frustrated comings of age. Children feel bad about doing wrong because they’re told to feel that way; adults feel bad about doing wrong for no other reason beyond knowing it’s wrong.
For the philosopher Immanuel Kant, all of this points to what makes us unique in the universe: our consciousness. As far as Kant could tell, the only thing that made anything meaningful was the ability to make anything meaningful. In other words, meaning was self-created, hence our constant focus on self-development and our obsessive quest for expansion of consciousness. Substance abusers know this all too well, pushing as they do against the gauntlet of mortality by building meaning through perception. Kant looked critically on the treatment of human beings as a means to an end; consequently, virtue was good in and of itself for avoiding such objectification.
But if you look at our present culture, we are doing precisely that: using each other as means to selfish ends. We’re losing our maturity as a culture, which is why depression and anxiety seem to rise proportionally to progress. Our rapid progress as a species depends on objectifying human beings. Realizing this makes us more depressed, so we fill the void with more progress. You see where this is going.
Our first mistake is thinking that the pursuit of happiness is viable. Instead, we should recognize that everything is fucked and, rather than despair, learn to live with it. Embracing pain, uncertainty, and failure should be our zeitgeist. Pain is, in fact, the root of all value. If science ever advanced to the point where death could be eradicated, nothing would have value anymore. Relationships would fall by the wayside, indulgences and diversions wouldn’t feel indulgent or diverting, and the absence of loss would make it impossible to ascribe meaning to anything. But when you think about it, everything that means something in your life has taken on its value by its relationship to pain. So rather than run away from pain, let us pursue it. Only then can we choose the types of pain that affect us and use them to make our lives meaningful.
The marketplace knows this all too well and cultivates our desire to escape from pain for profit through two mechanisms: innovation and diversion. Innovation substitutes one type of pain with a tolerable alternative. Transplants, for example, replace the protracted pain of organ failure with the relatively brief pain of surgical recovery. Diversion sidesteps pain altogether, as when we immerse ourselves in the latest blockbuster at our local movie theater for two hours of escapism. The real problem, then, is oversaturation. When given so many options, we struggle to feel satisfied about our decisions when we finally make them, which then compels us to make more decisions to cover up our discomfort over the last ones. Another vicious cycle built on the illusion of freedom.
Our identities are only as stable as the experiences that shape them. Let’s not hope for something better, but simply be better. The best hope we can embrace is for a world without hope, a place where we no longer suppress our thinking and feeling brains, where we reject the ideal of freedom in favor of committed action, where we embrace self-limitation as a path toward bettering ourselves instead of demanding the world change.
“Abandon all hope,” wrote Dante, “ye who enter here”; little did he know that sign should be hung not over the gate to hell, but the gate to life itself.
Blogger and bestselling author Mark Manson made a splash with his first book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, in which he outlined a no-holds-barred philosophy of life that has inspired a new outlook in millions of readers. He lives in New York City.
Nonfiction, Self Help, Psychology, Philosophy, Personal Development, Humor, Mental Health, Sociology, Unfinished, Crafts, Hobbies, Happiness Self-Help, Success Self-Help, Motivational Self-Help
Table of Contents
Part I Hope
Chapter 1 The Uncomfortable Truth 3
Chapter 2 Self-Control Is an Illusion 20
Chapter 3 Newton’s Laws of Emotion 47
Chapter 4 How to Make All Your Dreams Come True 75
Chapter 5 Hope Is Fucked 111
Part II Everything Is Fucked
Chapter 6 The Formula of Humanity 137
Chapter 7 Pain Is the Universal Constant 162
Chapter 8 The Feelings Economy 192
Chapter 9 The Final Religion 215
“Everything is Fcked: A Book About Hope” by Mark Manson is a thought-provoking and unconventional self-help book that delves into the paradoxical nature of hope and despair in our modern world. The author, well-known for his bestseller “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck,” offers a unique perspective on the human condition and the pursuit of meaning in a world that often seems chaotic and disheartening.
Manson explores the concept of hope and argues that it’s both a crucial driving force in our lives and a source of immense suffering. He contends that our society’s misplaced values, instant gratification, and addiction to positive thinking have led to a crisis of hope. Manson combines philosophy, psychology, and a healthy dose of humor to dissect these issues and propose alternative ways to find meaning and happiness.
One of the book’s central themes is the idea of embracing life’s challenges and suffering, rather than avoiding or denying them. Manson argues that true happiness and a sense of purpose arise from confronting and accepting the limitations and struggles that come with being human. He encourages readers to focus on what truly matters and to engage with life’s uncertainties, even when everything seems to be falling apart.
Review: “Everything is F*cked” is a compelling and thought-provoking read that challenges the conventional wisdom surrounding happiness and self-help. Mark Manson’s witty and irreverent writing style adds a refreshing touch to the genre, making complex philosophical concepts accessible to a broad audience. He successfully blends deep philosophical ideas with practical advice, using examples from history, psychology, and his own life experiences to illustrate his points.
The book is divided into well-structured chapters, each addressing a different aspect of hope, suffering, and human existence. Manson’s ability to balance philosophical depth with a conversational tone makes the book engaging and relatable. His exploration of the “feedback loop from hell” – a cycle of seeking more and more to fill an inner void – is particularly insightful and resonates with many readers.
While the book offers valuable insights, it may not be suitable for those who prefer a strictly positive and motivational approach to self-help. Manson’s candid discussions about the human condition and the harsh realities of life might be confronting for some. However, for those open to a more nuanced perspective on happiness and hope, this book provides a fresh and honest take on the subject.
In conclusion, “Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope” challenges the conventional notions of happiness and offers a compelling alternative view on finding meaning in a world filled with chaos. Mark Manson’s writing is witty, relatable, and thought-provoking, making it a worthwhile read for those seeking a deeper understanding of the human experience.