The Subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson

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BY: Beatrice Ballarin


When I picked up this book last January at Indigo, besides being attracted by the bright orange colour of the cover, I have to admit that I was a bit frustrated with how things were going in my life. It was a new year, but my experiments were a never-ending story, and the lab was not always an easy environment to work in: the typical life of a senior PhD candidate!

When I entered Indigo, the rather compelling title, The subtle art of not giving a f*ck, intrigued me. I had to read it! I thought maybe my problem was that I cared too much about everything. I am a perfectionist after all, and perhaps I need to learn to let things go. I had envisioned this book was about learning to let go, to not care. I thought the book would teach me how to reach a perfect and peaceful indifference to everything around me. Basically I thought this was one of those typical self-help books, one in which you already know what you should do by yourself, but somehow it is always nice and encouraging if someone else tells you and charges you 20 bucks for it—oh gosh, I was so wrong about this!!

The real lesson was in fact to care deeply about the things that you find important, but learn to care less about everyone else’s opinions. I, too, have felt that “I have given a fuck about too many people and too many things”.  I have also heard, maybe from the book of Hermann Hesse, that the key to success in life is simply “not to give a fuck”. As well, I have heard stories of people making an impulsive and radical decision, without a care in the world, and excelling.

This book made me think of a friend of mine, Regina, who made a sudden decision in her life—quitting a stable job and going back to grad school—simply deciding “not to give a fuck”. By taking a chance, she; finished grad school at UPenn, met the love of her life, got married, found a better job in California, and is now expecting a baby. Regina went on to accomplish amazing things, because she didn’t let fear hold her back. Fear of what others thought, or would think if she failed. As Mark Manson would say: “Fucks given? None, just went and did it”. But the point of the book is not to make crazy life changing decisions that you hope work out through sheer serendipity. On the contrary, the author wants you to focus on what you really like, what you feel deep-deep down is the most important thing in your life, and disregarding all the rest. Only by doing that, being honest with what you feel, and thus directing your “fucks” to what really matters, is possible to accomplish great things.

In a way, Regina decided what to give a fuck for—deciding what was really “fuckworthy”. It was a scary decision for sure, but she made the choice to focus only on going-back-to-school. And it was this singular focus that made the goal to get her degree more attainable. My friend reminded me of what this book is about: deciding what is “fuckworthy” and pursuing it wholeheartedly and without reservations. Life could be easier, less scary, rejections less painful, and failure may not be as terrifying if we could only learn to give a few less and