“You’re going to die one day… And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give… And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice — well, then you’re going to get fucked.” — Mark Manson

100 powerful lines from the book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’

Mary Good Books

--

“When most people envision giving no fucks whatsoever, they imagine a kind of serene indifference to everything, a calm that weathers all storms… Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent, it means being comfortable with being different” — Mark Manson

This self-help book on a counterintuitive approach to living a good life was worth my time. I collected several profound quotes, but I reduced them to a hundred as listed below. Hopefully you’ll find the powerful wisdom behind them:

  1. Self-improvement and success often occur together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the same thing.

2. No truly happy person feels the need to stand in front of a mirror and recite that she’s happy. She just is.

3. The world is constantly telling you that the path to a better life is more, more, more — buy more, own more, make more, fuck more, be more…The key to a good life is giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.

4. Our society today, through the wonders of consumer culture and hey-look-my-life-is-cooler-than-yours social media, has bred a whole generation of people who believe that having these negative experiences — anxiety, fear, guilt, etc. — is totally not okay.

5. Stress-related health issues, anxiety disorders, and cases of depression have skyrocketed over the past thirty years, despite the fact that everyone has a flat screen TV and can have their groceries delivered. Our crisis is no longer material; it’s existential, it’s spiritual.

6. We have so much fucking stuff and so many opportunities that we don’t even know what to give a fuck about anymore.

7. The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

8. Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backwards law” — the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.

9. Being open with your insecurities paradoxically makes you more confident and charismatic around others. The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships.

10. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering.

11. To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action.

12. The question, then, is, What do we give a fuck about? What are we choosing to give a fuck about? And how can we not give a fuck about what ultimately does not matter?

13. You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and an embarrassment to others.

14. The point isn’t to get away from the shit. The point is to find the shit you enjoy dealing with.

15. As we get older, with the benefit of experience, we begin to notice that most of these sorts of things have little lasting impact on our lives. Those people whose opinions we cared about so much before are no longer present in our lives.

16. The only way to overcome pain is to first learn how to bear it.

17. Life itself is a form of suffering. The rich suffer because of their riches. The poor suffer because of their poverty. People without a family suffer because they have no family. People with a family suffer because of their family.

18. We suffer for the simple reason that suffering is biologically useful. It is nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change.

19. We are wired to become dissatisfied with whatever we have and satisfied by only what we do not have. This constant dissatisfaction has kept our species fighting and striving, building and conquering.

20. “Don’t hope for a life without problems,” the panda said. “There’s no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems.”

21. Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is “solving.” If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems, then you’re going to make yourself miserable.

22. Some people deny that their problems exist in the first place. And because they deny reality, they must constantly delude or distract themselves from reality.

23. We all have our chosen methods to numb the pain of our problems, and in moderate doses there is nothing wrong with this. But the longer we avoid and the longer we numb, the more painful it will be when we finally do confront our issues.

24. If you feel crappy, it’s because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved. In other words, negative emotions are a call to action.

25. Emotions are merely signposts, suggestions that our neurobiology gives us, not commandments. Therefore, we shouldn’t always trust our own emotions. In fact, I believe we should make a habit of questioning them.

26. The person you marry is the person you fight with. The house you buy is the house you repair. The dream job you take is the job you stress over. Everything comes with an inherent sacrifice — whatever makes us feel good will also inevitably make us feel bad.

27. Most people want to have great sex and an awesome relationship, but not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings, and the emotional psychodrama to get there. And so they settle.

28. People want to start their own business. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, the insane hours devoted to something that may earn absolutely nothing.

29. What determines your success isn’t, “What do you want to enjoy?” The relevant question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The path to happiness is a path full of shitheaps and shame.

30. See: it’s a never-ending upward spiral. And if you think at any point you’re allowed to stop climbing, I’m afraid you’re missing the point. Because the joy is in the climb itself.

31. The true measurement of self-worth is not how a person feels about her positive experiences, but rather how she feels about her negative experiences.

32. It takes a lot of energy and work to convince yourself that your shit doesn’t stink, especially when you’ve actually been living in a toilet.

33. The truth is that there’s no such thing as a personal problem. If you’ve got a problem, chances are millions of other people have had it in the past, have it now, and are going to have it in the future.

34. To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate shit-tons of time and energy to it. And because we all have limited time and energy, few of us ever become truly exceptional at more than one thing, if anything at all.

35. We’re all, for the most part, pretty average people. But it’s the extremes that get all of the publicity.

36. This 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, the deluge of exceptional information drives us to feel pretty damn insecure and desperate, because clearly we are somehow not good enough.

37. Technology has solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological problems. The Internet has not just open-sourced information; it has also open-sourced insecurity, self-doubt, and shame.

38. The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they’re obsessed with improvement.

39. If suffering is inevitable, if our problems in life are unavoidable, then the question we should be asking is not “How do I stop suffering?” but “Why am I suffering — for what purpose?”

40. Our values determine the nature of our problems, and the nature of our problems determines the quality of our lives. Values underlie everything we are and do.

41. We get to control what our problems mean based on how we choose to think about them, the standard by which we choose to measure them.

42. The question is not whether we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is by what standard do we measure ourselves?

43. If you want to change how you see your problems, you have to change what you value and/or how you measure failure/success.

44. There are a handful of common values that create really poor problems for people — problems that can hardly be solved: Pleasure, material success, always being right and staying positive.

45. Pleasure is a false god. Research shows that people who focus their energy on superficial pleasures end up more anxious, more emotionally unstable, and more depressed.

46. Pleasure is not the cause of happiness; rather, it is the effect. If you get the other stuff right (the other values and metrics), then pleasure will naturally occur as a by-product.

47. When people measure themselves not by their behavior, but by the status symbols they’re able to collect, then not only are they shallow, but they’re probably assholes as well.

48. The fact is, people who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes.

49. It’s far more helpful to assume that you’re ignorant and don’t know a whole lot. This keeps you unattached to superstitious or poorly informed beliefs and promotes a constant state of learning and growth.

50. While there is something to be said for “staying on the sunny side of life,” the truth is, sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it.

51. When we force ourselves to stay positive at all times, we deny the existence of our life’s problems. And when we deny our problems, we rob ourselves of the chance to solve them and generate happiness.

52. In the long run, completing a marathon makes us happier than eating a chocolate cake. Raising a child makes us happier than beating a video game.

53. As Freud once said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”

54. Good values are reality-based, socially constructive, and immediate & controllable.

55. Bad values are superstitious, socially destructive, and not immediate or controllable.

56. Some examples of good, healthy values: honesty, innovation, vulnerability, standing up for oneself, standing up for others, self-respect, curiosity, charity, humility, creativity.

57. Some examples of bad, unhealthy values: dominance through manipulation or violence, indiscriminate fucking, feeling good all the time, always being the center of attention, not being alone, being liked by everybody, being rich for the sake of being rich, sacrificing small animals to the pagan gods.

58. There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances.

59. With great responsibility comes great power. The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives.

60. Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things, how you value things.

61. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they’re given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life. And it’s not necessarily the people with the best cards.

62. Outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but over time devour us from the inside out. And it’s even more insidious than most vices because we don’t even consciously acknowledge that it’s a pleasure.

63. Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we don’t go from “wrong” to “right.” Rather, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong.

64. There is no correct dogma or perfect ideology. There is only what your experience has shown you to be right for you — and even then, that experience is probably somewhat wrong too.

65. And because you and I and everybody else all have differing needs and personal histories and life circumstances, we will all inevitably come to differing “correct” answers about what our lives mean and how they should be lived.

66. Certainty is the enemy of growth. Nothing is for certain until it has already happened — and even then, it’s still debatable.

67. The comedian Emo Philips once said, “I used to think the human brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.”

68. Our mind’s biggest priority when processing experiences is to interpret them in such a way that they will cohere with all of our previous experiences, feelings, and beliefs. But often we run into life situations where past and present don’t cohere.

69. There’s a lot of conventional wisdom out there telling you to “trust yourself,” to “go with your gut,” and all sorts of other pleasant-sounding clichés. But perhaps the answer is to trust yourself less.

70. For individuals to feel justified in doing horrible things to other people, they must feel an unwavering certainty in their own righteousness, in their own beliefs and deservedness. Racists do racist things because they’re certain about their genetic superiority.

71. The more you try to be certain about something, the more uncertain and insecure you will feel. The more you embrace being uncertain and not knowing, the more comfortable you will feel in knowing what you don’t know.

72. The only way to solve our problems is to first admit that our actions and beliefs up to this point have been wrong and are not working.

73. “Knowing yourself” or “finding yourself” can be dangerous. It can cement you into a strict role and saddle you with unnecessary expectations. It can close you off to inner potential and outer opportunities.

74. If it feels like it’s you versus the world, chances are it’s really just you versus yourself.

75. You could make plenty of money and be miserable, just as you could be broke and be pretty happy. Therefore, why use money as a means to measure my self-worth?

76. 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.

77. Picasso remained prolific his entire life. He lived into his nineties and continued to produce art up until his final years. Had his metric been “Become famous” or “Make a buttload of money in the art world” or “Paint one thousand pictures,” he would have stagnated at some point along the way.

78. Just as one must suffer physical pain to build stronger bone and muscle, one must suffer emotional pain to develop greater emotional resilience, a stronger sense of self, increased compassion, and a generally happier life

79. 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.

80. If you lack the motivation to make an important change in your life, do something — anything, really — and then harness the reaction to that action as a way to begin motivating yourself.

81. I quickly learned, though, that forcing myself to do something, even the most menial of tasks, quickly made the larger tasks seem much easier

82. The only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or (gulp) one person.

83. Travel is a fantastic development tool, because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves.

84. Russian society found the most valuable currency to be trust. And to build trust you have to be honest. That means when things suck, you say so openly and without apology

85. There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they’re dealing with.

86. This is a cornerstone of many of the so-called positive thinking books: open yourself up to opportunities, be accepting, say yes to everything and everyone, and so on. But we need to reject something. Otherwise, we stand for nothing.

87. There’s a certain level of joy and meaning that you reach in life only when you’ve spent decades investing in a single relationship, a single craft, a single career.

88. Honesty is a natural human craving. But part of having honesty in our lives is becoming comfortable with saying and hearing the word “no.”

89. It’s suspected by many scholars that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet not to celebrate romance, but rather to satirize it, to show how absolutely nutty it was.

90. Unhealthy love is based on two people trying to escape their problems through their emotions for each other — in other words, they’re using each other as an escape. Healthy love is based on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problems with each other’s support

91. Wherever there is a healthy and loving relationship, there will be clear boundaries between the two people and their values, and there will be an open avenue of giving and receiving rejection when necessary.

92. In general, entitled people fall into one of two traps in their relationships. Either they expect other people to take responsibility for their problems: Or they take on too much responsibility for other people’s problems

93. Acts of love are valid only if they’re performed without conditions or expectations.

94. Without conflict, there can be no trust. Conflict exists to show us who is there for us unconditionally and who is just there for the benefits. No one trusts a yes-man.

95. This is what’s so destructive about cheating. It’s not about the sex. It’s about the trust that has been destroyed as a result of the sex. Without trust, the relationship can no longer function. So it’s either rebuild the trust or say your goodbyes.

96. If people cheat, it’s because something other than the relationship is more important to them. It may be power over others. It may be validation through sex. It may be giving in to their own impulses. Whatever it is, it’s clear that the cheater’s values are not aligned in a way to support a healthy relationship.

97. I’ve committed to one woman for the long haul and, to my surprise, have found this more rewarding than any of the flings, trysts, and one-night stands I had in the past. I’ve committed to a single geographic location and doubled down on the handful of my significant, genuine, healthy friendships.

98. What I’ve discovered is something entirely counterintuitive: that there is a freedom and liberation in commitment. Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous.

99. The Stoics of ancient Greece and Rome implored people to keep death in mind at all times, in order to appreciate life more and remain humble in the face of its adversities.

100. You too are going to die, and that’s because you too were fortunate enough to have lived. You may not feel this. But go stand on a cliff sometime, and maybe you will.

In my life, I have given a fuck about many things. I have also not given a fuck about many things. And like the road not taken, it was the fucks not given that made all the difference. — Mark Manson

--

--