Mark Manson is a writer, blogger, and entrepreneur. He has published two books as well as being the author of his own blog, MarkManson.net. Other things I know about him? Apparently he travelled the world a lot and then got sick of it and decided to settle down, find a wifey, crank out a few books, and live a somewhat normal boring existence. Ahhh yes, the American dream.
I bought this book as one of my several beach reads and found that the length and writing style suited my vacation nicely. I was able to read it quickly and still take away some valuable points and Manson’s subtle humor as well (yes, that “subtle” was absolutely thrown in there on purpose).
What I enjoyed most about this book was the conversational tone in which is was written. Manson begins the book lightheartedly, although the subjects he discusses are, in themselves, not lighthearted. However, I found that as the book went on, the humor faded, and by the end of the book, I was left not having felt inspired, but rather overwhelmed by a feeling of existential crisis. After reading You Are A Badass, I was hoping this book would follow a similar vein to pump me up like the cheerleaders at a pep rally on how to better handle my life when I got back home. It was nothing like any other self help book out there. But to be fair, he did warn readers about that in the first few pages of the book.
Despite its emotional twist at the end, I found myself agreeing with–and taking away–valuable lessons, or at least a new way of looking at things. The book explains precisely what it says it does. It tells you how to not give a fuck, but in a way that helps you cultivate the sort of life you’ve always wanted to live instead of just being a raging asshat.
“As a teenager, I told everybody that I didn’t care about anything, when the truth was I cared about way too much. Other people ruled my world without my even knowing. I thought happiness was a destiny and not a choice. I thought love was something that just happened, not something that you worked for. I thought being ‘cool’ had to be practiced and learned from others, rather than invented for oneself.
When I was with my first girlfriend, I though we would be together forever. And then, when that relationship ended, I thought I’d never feel the same way about a woman again. I thought that love sometimes just wasn’t enough. And then I realized that each individual gets to decide what is ‘enough,’ and that love can be whatever we let it be.
Ever step of the way I was wrong. About everything. Throughout my life, I’ve been flat-out wrong about myself, others, society, culture, the world, the universe–everything.
And I hope that will continue to be the case for the rest of my life.
Just as Present Mark can look back on Past Mark’s every flaw and mistake, one day Future Mark will look back on Present Mark’s assumptions (including the contents of this book) and notice similar flaws. And that will be a good thing. Because that will mean I have grown.”
– The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson, Pg. 116
What I took from this book was the story of a man who had spent his life living the way everyone wishes they could. And through his story, I took the lessons that he learned along his way to getting to where he currently was when he wrote this book. Mark Manson was a playboy. He was a rich kid who had the whole world as his playground. He fucked anyone he wanted, did anything he wanted, because–and as he states himself in his own book–he was a privileged white male in American society and felt that he was entitled to everything. And to be fairly honest it was refreshing to see someone admit this about himself. We so often skip over the stories of this demographic with no explanation as to why these people are the way they are. As Mark explains in the book, he had a bad childhood, and so spent most of his twenties rebelling against this poor past experience with no care for whose feelings he stepped on in the process. It was interesting to see the reasoning behind it. Of why he acted this way.
Of course that was not the sole focus of the book. It was, after all and in a way, a self help book. The advice presented was not advice that focused on the things we lacked, but rather the things we had that we needed to let go of. Stop thinking you’re special, because you’re not. Stop caring about what others think about you. Stop being afraid to take risks. Stop thinking everything has to be super positive all the time, and accept that negative events and emotions are going to happen to you in life. Stop overthinking. Stop sabotaging yourself. Stop trying to be exceptional when you might only have ever been born to be just plain normal. Stop blaming everyone else for your problems and take responsibility for your life. Stop waffling over decisions and just choose already. Stop looking for excuses for everything and just do it. Stop thinking you know everything because
that makes you a little shit that no one likes you don’t. Stop being afraid of failure. Stop being afraid of pain and discomfort. Stop being afraid to die. Stop being afraid to live.
“We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.”
– The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Mark Manson, Pg. 151
See, as the list goes on, it becomes more existential, and by the end of the book I was left in a mental fog, thinking about life and death and the meaning of it all. Becoming aware of your existence is a painful thing in and of itself, but he states all of his points very well. He cuts right to the chase for each and every point and doesn’t sugar coat it for the weak-stomached.
In fact, I experienced my own bout of guilt and shame when he got to the part about taking responsibility in the relationships you share with other people (partners, friends, family). He spoke particularly about victim/savers relationships, where one (the saver) tries to fix the other while they (the victims) create unnecessary problems from which they need to be saved in order to feed their compulsive need for attention, which can escalate at an alarming rate. Instead of the victims taking responsibility for their own problems, and the savers allowing the victims to solve their own problems, they create a toxic co-dependant relationship that they both feed off of like deranged little parasites. It was damn uncomfortable for me to read, because it was so painfully honest and accurate. (I often consider myself a saver, as I am mainly attracted to people I feel that I need to fix, instead of focusing on my own problems which need my attention much more than the victims I try to save…But that’s a whole blog post for another day).
All of the advice he gives really does sound like it comes from someone who has been there and done that. From someone who has lived that life and has regretted many poor decisions. For this reason, I lapped up his wisdom. To be fairly honest, if he were to publish an autobiography, or even a relationship advice book, I think he could be very successful. It seemed he had a profound amount of knowledge and experience about the social workings between humans. And he would have made a fair anthropologist as well.
Should You Read It?
Yes! It was a quick read and easy to grasp the concepts. The conversational tone makes it a fun read and it makes you think about some of life’s most terrifying questions at the same time. However, is this a case of a songbird who can only sing one song? I suppose we shall just have to wait and see what else he publishes. And if you don’t like it, hey, it was only three hours of time you’ll never get back.
Go grab a copy over on amazon and tell me what you think!