the subtle art of not giving a fuck summary

Book Summary: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Author: Mark Manson

Published: 2016 by HarperOne


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The key to a good life is not giving a f*ck about more; it’s giving a f*ck about less, giving a f*ck about only what is true and immediate and important.

The idea of not giving a f*ck is a simple way of reorienting our expectations for life and choosing what is important and what is not.

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


Giving too many f*cks is bad for your mental health because you become overly attached to the superficial.


You have to accept the fact that the world is totally f*cked because it’s always been that way, and always will be.

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

Outrage porn: rather than report on real stories and real issues, the media find it much easier (and more profitable) to find something mildly offensive, broadcast it to a wide audience, generate outrage to the population.

What Not Giving a F*ck Means

Subtlety #1: Not giving a f*ck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.

  • Indifferent people give too many f*cks about the things around them. They think they are special, unique who has problems nobody else would understand.
  • We must all give a f*ck about something. To not give a f*ck about anything is still to give a f*ck about something.
  • The question is: “what do we give a f*ck about?” “What are we choosing to give a f*ck about?”

Subtlety #2: To not give a f*ck about adversity, you must first give a f*ck about something more important than adversity

  • Reserve your f*ck to what truly matters.
  • Your pain is a tool. Your trauma is a source of power.
  • Problems are your guide to sufferings and how to do it better, more meaningfully, with more compassion and more humility.

Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a f*ck about.

  • Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a f*ck about what’s truly f*ckworthy.
  • We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.
  • We are always choosing, whether we recognize it or not. Always.

People F*CK Things up in at Least One of Two Ways:


They deny that their problems exist in the first place, thus they deny themselves to reality.

It makes them feel good in the short term, but it leads to a life of insecurity, neuroticism, and emotional repression.

Victim Mentality

The more people there are who proclaim themselves victims over tiny infractions, the harder it becomes to see who the real victims actually are.

Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances. They choose to believe they can’t do anything to solve their problems.

What Are Emotions?

Emotions are simply signposts, biological signals designed to nudge you in the direction of beneficial change. It is nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change

Negative emotions are a call to action. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are rewards for taking the proper action.

The trick with negative emotions is to 1) express them in a socially acceptable and healthy manner and 2) express them in a way that aligns with your values.

Anger is natural. It is a part of life which can be quite healthy in many situations.

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.

Suffering Builds Courage

Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to be courageous.

Problems add a sense of meaning and importance to our life. Thus to duck, our problems are to lead a meaningless (even if supposedly pleasant) existence.

The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure.

To try to avoid pain is to give too many f*cks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a f*ck about the pain, you become unstoppable.

Good and Bad Values

Good values are 1) reality-based, 2) socially constructive, and 3) immediate and controllable.

When we have poor values and standards, we essentially giving f*cks about the things that don’t matter, which make our life worse.

When we choose better values and standards, we are able to divert our f*cks to things that matter, things that improve the state of our well-being.

Self-improvement” is really about: prioritizing better values, choosing better things to give a f*ck about.

When you give better f*cks, you get better problems. When you get better problems, you get a better life.

The Responsibility/Fault Fallacy

The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives. Accepting responsibility first step to solving our problems

A lot of people hesitate to take responsibility for their problems because they believe that to be responsible for your problems is to also be at fault for your problems.

We are responsible for experiences that aren’t our fault all the time.

Fault results from choices that have already been made. Responsibility results from the choices you’re currently making, every second of every day.

Nobody else is ever responsible for your situation but you. Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you.

Being Wrong

People have biases toward the meaning brain has made. If we see evidence that contradicts the meaning we created, we often ignore it and keep on believing anyway.

Certainty is the enemy of growth. Instead of striving for certainty, we should be in constant search of doubt: doubt about our own beliefs, doubt about our own feelings, doubt about what the future may hold for us unless we get out there and create it for ourselves.

Being wrong opens us up to the possibility of change. Being wrong brings the opportunity for growth.

False memory syndrome says that our beliefs are malleable, and our memories are horribly unreliable.

Death and Legacy

Death scares us so we avoid thinking about it.

We create “immortality projects,” projects that allow our conceptual self to live on way past the point of our physical death.

The only way to be comfortable with death is to understand and see yourself as something bigger than yourself.

People declare themselves experts, being great in their own fields, without any real-life experience. They do this not because they actually think they are greater than everybody else; they do it because they feel that they need to be great to be accepted in a world that broadcasts only the extraordinary.

Our culture today confuses great attention and great success, assuming them to be the same thing. But they are not.

You are already great because, in the face of endless confusion and certain death, you continue to choose what to give a f*ck about and what not to. This mere fact already makes you beautiful, already makes you successful, and already makes you loved.


This book has a lot of curse words but lots of insights too. Mark uses many examples and psychological frameworks that I find interesting.

I learned that in order to grow, I just feel all the pain because it can be the most influential experience in my life. Real learning comes from taking responsibility for my problems. Blaming others can only hurt me.

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

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