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Book Summary: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The idea that you can improve your life by not caring as much is certainly counterintuitive. But the subtle art is to direct your cares toward the things that genuinely matter most. By developing the tools of self-awareness and determining good, practical values, you’ll learn to care more about the right things and stop caring about all the other trivialities in life.

Learn how to live a better life by caring less about things that don’t matter.


  • Want to break out of your cycle of anxiety over a thousand small worries
  • Need to find the courage to branch out into something new
  • Let fear stop you from pursuing the things you care about

Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (2016) lays out how to live a better life by caring about fewer things. If you follow few simple rules, you can enjoy a happier, less stressful existence.

We live in an era of opportunity. Whether we want to choose a career, a partner or the best news source, we have a multitude of options available to us. So why isn’t it pure bliss to be alive? Why are so many of us stressed out and unfulfilled? After all, we should have everything we want!

Well, it’s because we’re trying to do it all. We have so many options open to us that we end up concentrating on all our different choices and opportunities, all the time. In short, we’re spreading ourselves too thin and burning ourselves out. So what can we do instead?

As this book summary show, we need to find out what is important to us, and concentrate on doing that. Everything else? We shouldn’t give a fuck about it! This book summary will help you discover which few things are important enough to you to give a fuck about.

In this summary of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, you’ll also discover

  • why you shouldn’t compare yourself to Metallica;
  • that self-criticism is the key to being right; and
  • why death should be the end for all of us.


Blogger and master of personal development advice “that doesn’t suck,” Mark Manson, explains why you shouldn’t care what others think or hide from adversity. His writing style is irreverent and unapologetically profane. If 127 occurrences of the word “fuck” seems excessive, this is not the article for you. For those who can get past his linguistic choices, he offers genuine insights into the habits that cause people to care too much about the wrong things. His playful style encourages self-reflection without angst. We recommend Manson’s perspective to readers with an interest in personal growth and a sense of humor.


  • “Not giving a fuck” is something we admire in others, but most of us have an ingrained habit of caring about what people think.
  • People who are frequently annoyed usually have unrealistic expectations of life.
  • Not giving a fuck is not the same as “indifference.” It’s about having the courage to be forthright in the face of adversity.
  • You will only succeed at not caring about adversity if you have something bigger to care about that makes adversity worthwhile.
  • With maturity, we realize that others don’t care what we do as much as we thought. This frees us not to care either.


Charles Bukowski’s gravestone reads, “Don’t try.” This may seem like a strange last message from a man who fought an uphill battle to be published. However, Bukowski’s success didn’t come from changing his life in any radical way. It came when he decided all he wanted was to write, and he stopped caring about anything else. It came when he recognized that he was a loser, and he wrote honestly about that, rather than trying to sound like a winner.

At a time when everyone is trying so hard to be better, Bukowski’s advice of “don’t try” presents a different approach. When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk about all of your personal failures — “Wow, that last screw-up was a doozy!” or “When will I be as happy as everyone on my social media feed?”

— it’s liberating to just stop caring.

The solution to this modern anxiety is to not care. But don’t stop caring in an indiscriminate manner. There are three subtleties to not caring in a way that leads to a good life:

  1. Not caring isn’t the same as being totally indifferent. Indifferent people don’t care about anything. Not caring means being selective about what you don’t care about — you don’t waste your care on things that don’t really matter to you.
  2. To stop caring about trivialities, you need to care about something more important. Caring about every single inconvenience and the thousand trivialities of everyday life is often a symptom of not having anything meaningful and fulfilling to care about.
  3. Consciously or unconsciously, you are constantly choosing what to care or not care about. Life is full of things beyond our control. But even if something isn’t in your control, it can still be your responsibility to respond to it. Choosing your response can be a source of empowerment, even if the circumstances are out of your control.

Happiness Is a Problem

Pain is not just a constant part of life — it’s a useful one, too. Pain teaches you what things to avoid or pay attention to in the future. The agonizing pain of your first heartbreak helps you be more mature in future relationships.

Genuine happiness comes from finding real solutions to life’s painful problems.

You shouldn’t simply avoid your problems; instead, get to the root of the issue and figure them out. So, the way to find happiness isn’t to ask, “What life do I want to be living?”, but rather, “What struggles do I want to take on, and what problems do I enjoy solving?”

While a painless life is impossible, it is possible to choose struggles that bring some fulfillment. It’s like setting out to climb Mount Everest only because you think the view might be nice. You must get some thrill out of the climb itself to make it worth the ascent.

You Are Not Special

In the 1960s, people were taught that having high self-esteem was a benchmark on the path to becoming a better person. They believed that thinking highly about yourself could lead to real psychological benefits. This led to generations of people who thought they were special simply because they were told that they were and not because they actually did anything great. They were told to think positively about themselves, and good things would just come.

But there is a difference between genuine self-worth and entitlement. People who are entitled think they deserve something without needing to work for it. This often leads to ignoring real problems to maintain their self-confidence. If something great happens, they think it happens because they’re great. If something bad happens, they blame it on other people’s jealousy of them.

Real self-worth, on the other hand, means being able to acknowledge negative experiences and aspects of your character and address them. Only by acknowledging these flaws can you fix them and improve upon yourself.

The Value of Suffering

Suffering — or choosing to take on certain kinds of suffering — is what gives meaning to life’s problems. The challenge is recognizing which struggles are worth taking on and which aren’t.

This is particularly difficult when so many people lack the self-awareness to determine their values. This self-awareness allows you to get to the bottom of things and figure out why something bothers you deep down. Maybe you value having a close relationship with your sibling, but you seldom talk to one another on the phone. The problem isn’t your value — having that close relationship is important. But the metric with which you measure this value (time on the phone together) might need to change. Maybe a close relationship doesn’t mean regular phone calls.

There’s also a challenge in determining what a “good” value is. Don’t fall into the trap of setting up bad values for yourself. Bad values are superstitious, destructive, and out of your control. For example, material success isn’t a great value because your self-worth shouldn’t be measured by how successful you are at work or how much money you have in the bank.

On the other hand, good values are reality based, socially constructive, and within your control. Being honest and charitable are good values: They are things that can be realistically practiced, and the exercise of these values strengthens social bonds.

You Are Always Choosing

When people feel disempowered, it’s often because they are faced with problems they can’t control. It’s easy to create a self-fulfilling prophecy when you feel doomed to misery by some accident you had no hand in.

For example, when you go on a date, it’s easy to focus on the one flaw you think makes you unlikable — your height, your teeth, your finances — and obsess over it. You’ve chosen a value beyond your control, and you believe it determines your failure. On your date, you now see any sign of disfavor as related to that trait. But the truth is that the date probably didn’t go well because you have nothing in common, not because of your bad teeth.

Yet, there is a kind of comfort that comes in this: It’s easy to blame failing on something that’s beyond your control. “The date didn’t go well, but it’s not my fault that my teeth are bad!”

However, there is a distinction between responsibility and fault. Just because you take responsibility for something doesn’t mean it’s your fault. You’re responsible for choosing actionable values. Instead of placing value on your teeth, you could place value on finding someone who likes you as you are. Otherwise, by choosing values out of your control, you’re responsible for your problems.

You’re Wrong About Everything (but So Am I)

You’re always wrong about something. Maybe it’s something personal, like a firmly held childhood belief. Or maybe it’s a widely accepted view, such as the sun revolves around the earth. Human history, and even your individual life experience, is a journey in becoming less wrong. Instead of striving for certainty and putting life on hold until it’s found, the goal is to accept and live with uncertainty. You must be able to cope with discovering that you were wrong all along.

The way to do this is to use your self-awareness skills to ask why something is important or desirable — and then, consider what it would mean to be wrong about that. Would being wrong create a better or a worse problem than being right?

It may be a struggle to put aside the threat to your identity that comes from discovering your assumption or value is wrong — but it’s the only way to become less wrong.

For example, let’s say your daughter wants to go to art school, but you disagree and think she should go to law school. She’s a very talented artist, but you think art school is a bad idea. Soon, you find that your once close relationship is now riddled with arguments and silent treatments.

At a certain point, you should stop and ask, “What if I’m wrong about this?”

Consider alternative reasons why you don’t want her to pursue a career as an artist.

Maybe you think being an artist isn’t a reputable profession. Maybe you’re afraid she won’t be able to support herself on an artist’s salary. Maybe you’re jealous because you wish you would’ve had the guts to go to art school.

The next question is, “What would it mean if I’m wrong about this?” If she is talented and passionate about art, you may be holding her back. Perhaps the real reason you don’t want her to go to art school is because of you, not her. That’s not a flattering conclusion, but it’s one that you must consider.

And finally, ask, “Is being wrong going to create a better or worse problem?” You have two choices. You can continue fighting with her about art school because you think it’s a bad choice. Or you can realize that you don’t always have the right answers for her. This means letting her make her own decisions and trusting her to forge her own path, for better or worse.

The first option is the easier one: She’s wrong, and I’m right. But the second option leads to a better relationship with your daughter. Only by putting a microscope on why you’re really upset and considering what it means to be wrong can you ever hope to grow.

Failure Is the Way Forward

People often view failure and success as mutually exclusive. But it is the cumulative lessons of a lifetime of failures and successes that develop talent, discipline, and determination.

One way to overcome the fear of failure — which persists even after recognizing that it’s a part of any successful life — is to just do something. People often wait for motivation or inspiration before acting, but on the contrary, action is what triggers motivation.

A graduate student working on the final section of her thesis feels run down by her years of effort and at a loss on how to tie everything together. Still, she gets up before work and writes for an hour every day. At first, it’s difficult and unproductive. But her ideas sit with her all day, and the next morning, she starts at a better place than the one before. Each seemingly wasted writing session creates the momentum and motivation to get the real work done.

The Importance of Saying No

It may seem counterintuitive, but rejection can be a blessing. Think about your circle of friends. Whose advice do you generally value more: your positive friend who makes you feel better but never really challenges you, or the friend who gives it to you straight when you’re screwing up?

While the honest advice may be difficult to hear, it’s what makes a difference.

Rejection can make you see something in a different way by looking honestly at your work and developing genuine reasons why it should change or stay as it is.

The flip side to accepting rejection is setting boundaries. Some people fear rejecting others even more than they fear facing rejection themselves. Having strong boundaries doesn’t mean that you never do anything for anyone else — it means that you help others because you want to and not because you feel obligated or fear other people’s reactions.

… And Then You Die

Ernest Becker was an anthropologist and philosopher who had a controversial tenure on his way to San Francisco State University. His book The Denial of Death postulated that humans were the only beings who could conceive of themselves abstractly and therefore the only ones aware that they’re going to die. Moreover, humans conceive of a second “self” distinct from the body — one that we wish to be preserved even after death.

Because of this, humans attempt to cement a legacy with “immortality projects,”

such as architectural marvels or technological innovations. The overall goal of these projects is to allow people to avoid facing the reality of death.

Sometimes, it is better to question the conceptual self and face the unalterable fact of death. What eats away at people is not the enormity of meaningful questions but the thousands of vain trivialities that distract from life while it lasts.

Whatever you do in life will be a struggle, so you need to find the struggle that’s right for you.

What do you really want out of life? In other words, what’s your ultimate goal – the achievement you want written on your headstone?

It’s not such an easy question to answer, is it? Sure, many of us will claim that we want happiness, a loving family and a job we enjoy, but these are pretty vague ambitions. And vague ambitions are problematic because they won’t push you to strive for success.

Unfortunately, if you want to get anywhere in life, you’ll have to struggle. Achieving your goals will require hard work and plenty of perseverance; it’s guaranteed that there will be setbacks and hardships on the way.

If you don’t have a goal you’re determined to achieve, you’ll falter in the face of this adversity. Let’s say becoming a CEO is your goal. After all, being a CEO certainly sounds cool: just think of all that power and responsibility. And yet, being a CEO is far from a walk in the park.

CEOs regularly put in 60-hour workweeks, they have to make tough decisions and they need to be ready to fire people, time and time again. If you aren’t hell-bent on becoming a CEO, you’ll struggle with the hard work, and your chances of being a success will be slim.

Since struggle is unavoidable, you have to find something worth struggling for. You have to identify what you really enjoy doing. Working on something that makes you happy means you’ll not only be undeterred by the constant battle; you’ll grow to love it.

Take the author. He realized that he really enjoyed writing about dating, and so he decided to focus on writing a dating-advice blog. It was a challenge at first, but because he loved what he did, he thrived on the adversity. Eventually, the struggle paid off; the blog garnered hundreds of thousands of subscribers and it paid more than enough for the author to make it his full-time job.

There is no point looking for an easy life, one without adversity. The only way you’ll get ahead is to find a goal that you want to struggle for. However, it’s equally important to say no to all the struggles and tasks that don’t bring you joy. Be ruthless and stop chasing the things in life that don’t make you happy. Concentrate on the few great things – and don’t give a fuck about everything else.

Suffering can lead to great things, but if you don’t have the right values, you’ll never be happy.

The best examples of success through struggle can be found in the art world. After all, we tend to imagine the quintessential artist as poverty-stricken and underappreciated – someone who refuses to give in until her genius is recognized.

And this stereotype is actually more accurate than you’d imagine.

Consider the guitarist Dave Mustaine. In 1983, Mustaine was thrown out of his band when they were right on the cusp of fame. Seething with anger at the rejection, Mustaine became determined to show his former bandmates just how wrong they’d been. For two years he worked relentlessly to improve his skills and find the musicians to make an even better band. The band he went on to form was Megadeth, a hugely popular band that went on to sell over 25 million records.

However, despite the success of Megadeth, Mustaine still wasn’t happy. He continued to judge his success against the achievements of his former band. Unfortunately for him, this band was Metallica, one of the world’s biggest music acts. Because he compared himself to Metallica, Mustaine considered himself a failure, in spite of his obvious successes.

Mustaine’s persistent unhappiness highlights a common danger: measuring one’s success against the success of others. For Mustaine, the only way to feel successful was to be more successful than his former bandmates, which meant he was doomed to disappointment.

It goes without saying that you need to find healthier values to judge your achievements by.

Pete Best is a brilliant example of how the right values can lead to happiness. Like Dave Mustaine, Best was kicked out of a band on the brink of stardom. Alas, for Best, this group happened to be The Beatles, the biggest band of all time. Watching his former bandmates reach the top, Best fell into a deep depression. But then he switched his values. He realized that what he really wanted in life was a loving family and a happy home life. Sure, he still wanted to play music, but he didn’t want musical success, or the lack of it, to define his life. This refocusing led to a happy, fulfilled life, and Best even went back to enjoying making music again – this time for less successful bands.

So our values are more important than success when it comes to happiness. In the next book summary, we’ll look at how to find the right values to live by.

Many people tend to focus on shitty values, so it’s important to find some good ones to believe in.

In the previous book summary, we saw that measuring your worth by comparing yourself to others will only lead to disappointment. And this is just one of many shitty values that can derail you on your path to happiness.

Consider pleasure, for instance. Many people choose to make pleasure their priority in life. And yet chasing pleasure above everything else isn’t healthy; in fact, it’s the central value of drug addicts, adulterers and gluttons. Research has shown that those who regard pleasure as the greatest good are likely to be anxious and depressed.

Another shitty value is using your material success as the yardstick for your life. Whether it be hankering after a bigger car than your neighbor’s or flashing your brand new Rolex, this value is incredibly common, and you’ve probably bought into it at some point. But it doesn’t lead to improved well-being. Studies have shown that once our basic needs in life are cared for, extra wealth doesn’t increase happiness. And chasing wealth can even have a detrimental effect if we chose to pursue it over values like family, honesty or integrity.

So how can you avoid shitty values?

Well, adherence to shitty values most often derives from a lack of worthwhile values. So, if you want to be neither blindly hedonistic nor covetous of your neighbor’s new Mercedes, you need to identify values worth living by.

These good values should:

  • Be based in reality
  • Be helpful to society
  • Have an immediate and controllable effect

Take honesty. Honesty is a great value to live by because you can control it (only you can decide to be truthful or not); it’s based in reality; and, because it provides truthful feedback to others, it’s helpful.

Some other values that fulfill these three criteria are creativity, generosity and humility.

Sometimes we feel like victims, but positive change only happens when you take full responsibility for your life.

Every year, thousands of amateur runners take part in marathons. Many of them do so to raise money for good causes. Even though a great many struggle to finish, most marathon runners are proud of their achievement. Now imagine that, instead of volunteering to run a marathon, you were forced to take part. No matter how well you actually ran, chances are you’d detest the whole experience.

Feeling compelled to do something robs it of its joy.

Sadly, many of us go through life as if our experiences were imposed upon us. Whether it be a failed job interview, a rejection from a loved one or even a missed bus, we see ourselves as the unhappy victims of life circumstances.

Let’s look at an extreme example of this phenomenon. William James was born to a wealthy, privileged family in nineteenth-century America. Suffering from ill-health, he would often experience bouts of vomiting and back spasms. His early dream was to become a painter, but he struggled to make his mark, and his father constantly mocked his lack of talent. So he decided to pursue a career in medicine – and then dropped out of medical school.

Unwell and unhappy, with neither family support nor a job, James considered suicide. But then, he read about the work of the philosopher Charles Pierce. Pierce’s central argument was that everyone should take 100 percent responsibility for their own life, a message that struck a chord with James.

James realized that his misery stemmed from his belief that he was a victim of outside influences. Whether it was his sickness or his father’s criticisms, he blamed his situation on things he couldn’t control, and this made him feel powerless. He realized that he was responsible for his life and his actions, and, empowered with this thought, he started afresh. After years of hard work, James went on to become a pioneer in American psychology.

So, if you ever feel like a victim, remember William James and try taking responsibility for your own life.

Imagine you get dumped by your partner. It would be all too easy to blame your former beloved for being cruel and uncaring, but it’d be wiser to look at how you were responsible for the relationship’s failure. Perhaps you neglected your fair share of housework, or maybe you didn’t support your partner’s ambitions. By realizing and working on your mistakes, you can avoid them in the future. Only then can you live a better, happier life.

We often flee when our identity is threatened, but Buddhism can help.

Picture this: You’re a senior manager at a large, illustrious company. You like your job and the compensation; you have a nice car, sharp clothes and the respect of your colleagues. Most of all, you love being a senior manager. Being a senior manager is who you are.

Now, imagine that you have the chance to get right to the top. However, the opportunity isn’t without substantial risks. If you fail to pull it off perfectly, you’ll lose everything – the job, the car, the respect and, most importantly, your identity.

Would you take the chance? The vast majority of people wouldn’t risk it. This is a result of what the author calls Manson’s Law of Avoidance – the tendency to flee anything that threatens our identity.

Although avoiding major risks – such as that described above – may seem wise, our desperation to protect our identity is often more of a hindrance than a help.

For example, many amateur artists and writers refuse to publicize or sell their work. They’re terrified that, should they show their art or writing, no one would like it. Trying and failing would destroy their identity, an identity that’s been built around the possibility of becoming a great artist. So they never try at all.

Luckily, there is a way to temper the negatives of Manson’s Law of Avoidance: practicing Buddhism.

Buddhism teaches that identity is an illusion. Whatever labels you give yourself – rich, poor, happy, sad, successful, a failure – are merely mental constructs. They simply aren’t real and so we shouldn’t let them dictate our lives.

You must, therefore, learn to let go of your identity.

Liberating yourself from an identity can be a wonderful experience. For example, you may have always considered yourself to be a career-minded person, and this has meant that you’ve always put your job first, and your family and hobbies second. Free yourself of this constraining self-image, and you’ll be able to do whatever makes you happy, whether that be spending time with your kids or making model airplanes.

You need to accept your mistakes and insecurities if you want to see positive change.

Don’t you just hate those annoying people who always think they’re right? Those smug know-it-alls who, even when you tell them they’re in the wrong, simply won’t listen?

Thank heavens you’re not like that yourself! Well, unfortunately, you are.

From time to time, we all suffer from the delusion that we’re correct when we’re not.

Take this example: one of the author’s friends had recently gotten engaged. The groom-to-be was almost universally seen as a decent, friendly person. Except by the friend’s fiancée’s brother. He simply wouldn’t stop criticizing his sister’s choice of partner and was convinced that her fiancé would end up hurting her.

Most people knew the brother was wrong, including his own sister. But, try as they might, they couldn’t get him to entertain the possibility that he might be acting a little delusional.

If you want to avoid acting like this brother, you’ve got to be willing to ask yourself whether you’re wrong, time and time again. Only by doing this can you overcome those blind spots where you wrongly think you’re right.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds; quite often, our false beliefs cover up our insecurities. This means that, by constantly questioning our decisions and actions, we’ll uncover uncomfortable truths about ourselves.

Back to the example of the hypercritical brother: it’s likely that his dislike of the groom-to-be was hiding his own insecurities. Maybe he was envious that his sister had found love and he hadn’t. Perhaps he was jealous because his sister was devoting her attention to her fiancé, not to him. He might even have been angry because his sister paid little attention to what he wanted. Whatever the reason, it was easier for him to blindly make fallacious assumptions than to deal with his own insecurities.

Luckily, you don’t have to fall into the same trap. By being ready to question your beliefs and face your insecurities, you can behave in a healthier, happier way.

Romantic love can be destructive unless we learn to control it.

Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most famous love story in the world. And yet it’s hardly a happy one; it’s a rather chaotic story, involving murder, exile and blood feuds and it ends with both lovers committing suicide.

The tragic tale of those star-crossed lovers highlights the destructive power of romantic love. Studies have shown that passionate, romantic relationships have a stimulating effect on the brain similar to that of cocaine. That is, you experience an intense high and then you crash back down. Then, you search again for the high, though not necessarily with the same person – a recipe for pain and anguish.

Back in Shakespeare’s time, the dangers of romantic love were well known. The Bard may have even written Romeo and Juliet as a critique of romantic desire as a destructive passion. Right up to the nineteenth century, most relationships and marriages were based on the respective skill sets of both partners rather than their passionate love for each other. Of course, things are different now. Today, romantic love is often held up to be the ideal, and this can lead to heartbreak.

So what can you do? Should you give up on the idea of romance altogether? Not quite.

Romantic love can be either unhealthy or healthy depending on whether it fulfills specific criteria. Unhealthy love happens when each partner uses the relationship to run away from their problems. For example, they might be unhappy with their lives, and so they use their feelings for each other as a distraction. Unfortunately, no one can mask personal problems forever, and so this avoidance-as-passion inevitably turns sour.

Healthy love, on the other hand, exists when both partners are wholly invested in the relationship. Rather than using it as a distraction, they are devoted to each other. Rather than concentrate on their own feelings, each partner offers support to their significant other. However, this support has to be desired. If a partner oversteps boundaries, and seeks to control the other by, for example, looking to solve all their problems for them, problems will ensue. If one partner seeks to dominate the other, this is clear evidence of unhealthy love.

Humans are terrified of death, and so they try to live on beyond it.

You might not like to think about it, but you’re going to die one day. This uncomfortable fact, and how we deal with it, has an awful lot to do with how we live our lives.

To fully understand just how much control death has over our lives, we can look to the work of Ernest Becker. Becker was a doctor of anthropology and a bit of a maverick. Although his unconventional approach and early death limited his academic career, he did write an influential book about dying, The Denial of Death.

In this book, Becker presented two main ideas.

The first is that humans are terrified of dying. Unlike other animals, humans are capable of thinking about hypothetical situations. We can imagine what our lives might be like if we had chosen to study a different subject in college, or, say, decided to be a pharmacist rather than a teacher.

This ability to hypothesize has a downside, however. We can imagine what life would be like after we’ve ceased to be. This brings us to Becker’s second main idea – that, since we know we’re doomed to die, we try to create a conceptual self that will live on after our demise. In other words, we spend our mortal lives seeking out immortality projects, things that will endure as our legacy.

It’s this desire that encourages some people to chase fame, while others may seek to make a mark in religion, politics or business.

Yet this dream of immortality causes problems for society. People’s wish to fashion the world, or at least a part of it, as they see fit has caused war, destruction and misery. What’s more, it’s not healthy for us as individuals. The desperate urge to make a mark causes us stress and anxiety.

Luckily, there is a straightforward solution. We have to stop striving for immortality. We need to stop “giving a fuck” about fame and power, and instead concentrate on the here and now. Look for meaning in the present and seek to spread happiness and joy where you are.

And not giving a fuck shouldn’t just be limited to thoughts of death. As you’ve learned in this book summary, trying to be all things to everyone just leads to pain. If you want to pursue a happy life, focus on the things you enjoy, be it the joyful struggle or a healthy relationship. Everything else is a pointless distraction.


Charismatic people generally don’t “give a fuck” about what others think. They are fearless about speaking their minds and leaving situations they don’t enjoy. Most people know someone who has succeeded by behaving boldly. While it’s theoretically easy not to care about unimportant things, most people find themselves taking offense or worrying about what others think of them at some point each day.

“Most of us, most of the time, get sucked in by life’s mean trivialities, steamrollered by its unimportant dramas.”

People who dwell on every little thing that bothers them expect the world to cater to their wants and needs. This sense of entitlement sets them up for disappointment, as life inevitably serves up a certain amount of failure, rejection and chores no one wants to do. Life actually gets less fraught when people expect and accept uncomfortable realities. It requires a conscious effort over time, but pays off in a more mature, resilient outlook.

“Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.”

To the surprise of many, “indifference” is not the answer: It’s just an attempt to hide from the pain of caring too much by living without any real passion or direction. Not giving a fuck means refusing to let the fear of adversity, failure or embarrassment get in the way of standing up for important beliefs. It involves accepting some minor emotional discomfort in exchange for the freedom to be different. Far from not caring about anything, not giving a fuck means being willing and eager to pursue things that really matter.

“If you find yourself consistently giving too many fucks about trivial shit that bothers you…,chances are you don’t have much going on in your life…And that’s your real problem.”

The simplest way not to mind adversity is to have something bigger to care about. People who consistently stew over small annoyances generally haven’t got anything better to do. The human mind simply needs something to focus on; anything will do. It’s important to choose a priority worth caring about so your mind won’t fritter its time away on stupid stuff.

As people mature, they gain perspective and realize many of the things they once cared about don’t matter. They see that no one notices much of what anyone else does, which frees everyone to focus on themselves and what matters to them individually. With age, people’s energy and desire to change the world diminish. People accept themselves and life more as they are and enjoy not having to give so many fucks about everything. This leads to an unexpected sense of peace and contentment.


The art of not caring is about directing your care and energy to things that you genuinely find fulfilling and truly want. This requires developing self-awareness about your problems: figuring out the source of trouble, why it matters, and whether you should care. You should challenge assumptions and seriously consider the possibility of being wrong. You should also establish good values, ones that are immediate, socially constructive, and realistic.

A painless life is an impossible dream, but you can choose to accept a certain amount of meaningful suffering in order to pursue something you truly care about.

This brings happiness and fulfillment, not just in success, but in the attempt as well.

Rather than recklessly caring about every little thing, the point is to not care in a deliberate and subtle manner. Three subtleties illustrate the meaning of not caring:

  1. Not caring isn’t the same as being totally indifferent. Indifferent people don’t care about anything. Not caring means being selective about what you don’t care about — you don’t waste your care on things that don’t really matter to you.
  2. To stop caring about trivialities, you need to care about something more important. Caring about every single inconvenience and the thousand trivialities of everyday life is often a symptom of not having anything meaningful and fulfilling to care about.
  3. Consciously or unconsciously, you are constantly choosing what to care or not care about. Life is full of things beyond our control. But even if something isn’t in your control, it can still be your responsibility to respond to it.

Choosing your response can be a source of empowerment, even if the circumstances are out of your control.

The key message in this book:

We try to do too much in life and this leads to stress and unhappiness. Each of us needs to learn to stop “giving a fuck” about the things that are causing us pain. Choose what it is you really want to care about, and develop a more constructive approach to work, love and life itself.

Actionable advice:

Forget FOMO and learn to say no.

If you want to focus only on the things that really matter to you, it is vitally important to say “no!” to everything else. FOMO – the fear of missing out – keeps us stressed, but the truth is, we’ll miss out on things no matter what. You can’t have the perfect career, lots of family time and countless hours to spend surfing waves on a sunny beach. It’s more important to miss out on the right things.

So pick what’s important to you, and ignore the rest. Be totally ruthless with this. For example, follow the path set by CEO multimillionaire Mohamed El-Erian, who resigned from his lucrative job so that he could spend more time with his young daughter.

About the author

Mark Manson runs a popular blog at and is the founder and CEO of Infinity Squared Media. His previous book, Models, provides dating advice based on living and communicating honestly.

Mark Manson is an author, blogger and entrepreneur. He writes personal development advice “that doesn’t suck.”

Mark Manson is an author and renowned blogger. Over the past few years, his blog,, has garnered a following of several million people. He lives and works in New York City.

Mark Manson is the New York Times bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (more than ten million copies sold worldwide) and a star blogger. Manson sold more than 250,000 copies of his self-published book, Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. Before long, his off-the-cuff voice was resonating with a much broader audience via his brilliantly counterintuitive essays on happiness. With titles like “The Most Important Question of Your Life,” “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” and “No, You Can’t Have It All,” his work was reposted by Elizabeth Gilbert, Chris Hemsworth, Will Smith, and Chelsea Handler. His site——is read by two million people each month. Manson lives in New York City.


Personal Growth, Personal Development, Humor, Entertainment, Self-Help, Happiness, Motivational, Psychology, Philosophy, Business, Mental Health, Adult

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Don’t Try 1
The Feedback Loop from Hell 5
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck 14
So Mark, What the Fuck Is the Point of This Book Anyway? 20

Chapter 2 Happiness Is a Problem 23
The Misadventures of Disappointment Panda 26
Happiness Comes from Solving Problems 30
Emotions Are Overrated 33
Choose Your Struggle 36

Chapter 3 You Are Not Special 41
Things Fall Apart 47
The Tyranny of Exceptionalism 57
B-b-b-but, If I’m Not Going to Be Special or Extraordinary, What’s the Point? 60

Chapter 4 The Value of Suffering 63
The Self-Awareness Onion 70
Rock Star Problems 76
Shitty Values 81
Denning Good and Bad Values 86

Chapter 5 You Are Always Choosing 90
The Choice 91
The Responsibility/Fault Fallacy 95
Responding to Tragedy 102
Genetics and the Hand We’re Dealt 105
Victimhood Chic 110
There Is No “How” 112

Chapter 6 You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I) 115
Architects of Our Own Beliefs 120
Be Careful What You Believe 123
The Dangers of Pure Certainty 129
Manson’s Law of Avoidance 136
Kill Yourself 139
How to Be a Little Less Certain of Yourself 141

Chapter 7 Failure Is the Way Forward 147
The Failure/Success Paradox 149
Pain Is Part of the Process 153
The “Do Something” Principle 158

Chapter 8 The Importance of Saying No 164
Rejection Makes Your Life Better 170
Boundaries 172
How to Build Trust 181
Freedom Through Commitment 186

Chapter 9 …And Then You Die 190
Something Beyond Our Selves 195
The Sunny Side of Death 200
Acknowledgments 211


In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.


Actor and voice-over pro Roger Wayne captures most of Manson’s oppositional energy, and he narrates with a lively engagement that only occasionally sounds overdone. Wayne’s likability helps to moderate the writer’s often bombastic writing. — “AudioFile”

“Resilience, happiness and freedom come from knowing what to care about–and most importantly, what not to care about. This is a masterful, philosophical and practical book that will give readers the wisdom to be able to do just that.” — Ryan Holiday, New York Times bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy

“Mark’s ability to dig deep and offer amazing, yet counter-intuitive, insight into the challenges of life makes him one of my favorite writers, and this book is his best work yet.” — Matt Kepnes, New York Times bestselling author of Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter

“This book hits you like a much-needed slap in the face from your best friend: hilarious, vulgar, and immensely thought-provoking. Only read if you’re willing to set aside all excuses and take an active role in living a f***ing better life.” — Steve Kamb, bestselling author of Level Up Your Life and founder of

“The opposite of every other book. Don’t try. Give up. Be wrong. Lower your standards. Stop believing in yourself. Follow the pain. Each point is profoundly true, useful, and more powerful than the usual positivity. Succinct but surprisingly deep, I read it in one night.” — Derek Sivers, Founder of CD Baby and author of Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur

“An in-your-face guide to living with integrity and finding happiness in sometimes-painful places… This book, full of counterintuitive suggestions that often make great sense, is a pleasure to read and worthy of rereading. A good yardstick by which self-improvement books should be measured.” — Kirkus Reviews

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