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The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck–some takeaways

This book was recommended to me months ago. It sat on my reading cue for quite a bit, until a long flight without wifi gave me nothing but time to dive right in.  As I have touched on before, I typically have a rotation in subject matter when it comes to books that I read: business development, skill development, fiction, and personal development.  This book by Mark Manson was a pretty perfect book for me, as I tend to give waaaaaaay too many fucks about things, which bogs me down from allocating my time and energy in productive places. For further proof, you can just ask David. He’ll tell ya.

Determined to not let this year be another overly emotional shit storm, I cracked into this book and also popped open a note book to jot down things that resonated with me. Several college ruled sheets of paper later, I present a few of my favorites.

  1. If you give a fuck about everything, you can’t really give a fuck about anything.  This book isn’t really about not caring about anything. It’s about caring immensely about the right things and NOT AT ALL about the rest. See, try as I might, my emotional bandwidth is most definitely finite.  There have been many nights that I have crashed on the couch as soon as I got home because I was carrying demons that didn’t belong to me.  While sometimes you can get away with this, this is extremely detrimental when you come across the need for the emotional energy, but have spent it on problems that you can really fix.  I have a widowed mother, two sisters with growing children, a career that’s really taking off, a relationship that has been nothing but positive.  I have a staff of GOOD people that I can help usher into a productive, happy life.  I have some of the most genuinely caring friends. I have a massive dog with anxiety that needs cuddles.   All of those people + Kilo deserve emotional energy in the very rare occurrence that they need an ear or some help in their life struggles. However, its easy to get sucked into the peripheral problems of people outside that list that aren’t really ever going to resolve, but diversify.  By choosing to detach from those situations and energy drains, you are electing to reserve the best you have to offer for those you CHOOSE to hold closely. “If you find yourself consistently giving too many fucks about trivial shit that bothers you — your ex-girlfriend’s new Facebook picture, how quickly the batteries die in the TV remote, missing out on yet another 2-for-1 sale on hand sanitizer — chances are you don’t have much going on in your life to give a legitimate fuck about. And that’s your real problem. Not the hand sanitizer.”–Mark Manson
  2. You cannot hide from adversity: this was a good take away.  The most fair thing in this life is that we are all treated unfairly. There is not a person I know that hasn’t gotten the shit end of the stick at one point or another.  Unfortunately, a trap many people fall into (myself included) is to focus on how unfair life is.  This negates the ability to saddle up and fix what you can control in the situation.  If you get laid off, you might sit and sulk about how unfair that is. OR you can spent that emotional energy finding a more secure job. The beauty of option two is that you might very well find stability AND you release yourself from feeling like a victim.  The reality is, sometimes you will face pain and adversity. You will have your heartbroken and you will be disappointed.  Often, you wont *deserve* it, per se. BUT you can always overcome it.
  3. Feeling pain isn’t the worst thing in the world: have you ever watched teenagers suffer their first break up?  Often, they have no idea that the hurt that they feel in their chest is temporary, and that with time it will go away.  Its only with experience that you know that the human condition can be painful, and that is just the risk of doing business with other humans. However, what I think is interesting to watch is the desperate flee from pain: rebounding relationships, extreme distractions, lobbying insults, and generally being a shitty person helps take the sting off of pain.  I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and everyone I know has done it. At the end of the day, you have done very little to make peace with the situation. Instead of focusing on fleeing from the pain, focus on something bigger than that: self improvement and the honest assessment you just got by way of a heartache.  “And in a strange way, this is liberating. We no longer need to give a fuck about everything. Life is just what it is. We accept it, warts and all.  Life fucking goes on. We now reserve our ever-dwindling fucks only for the most truly fuckworthy parts of our lives: our families, our best friends, our golf swing. And to our astonishment, this is enough. This simplification actually makes us really fucking happy.”–MM
  4. Perspective is a motherfucker:  If you gain nothing else out of life, you gain perspective.  I have been both unfortunate and fortunate to have experienced the highs of seeing new life in my family recently as well as the lows of a final breath.  Both extremes exist on the opposite end of the spectrum but lend to the understanding that these events happen while you are stumbling through this life, for better or for worse. How dumb I have felt realizing that I have been consumed with people and events who made almost no long term impact on my life, all the while missing out on celebrating the birth of nieces and nephews.  All the while, missing valuable time with family that may not have much time left.  If that doesn’t shake the fucks out of you, nothing will.
  5. And then you die..”: We all tend to look at our existence as ending once we die. In a lot of ways, that is true.  However, to quote Banksy, “you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” This is pretty deep.  The reality is that the things you choose to give time and attention to is a reflection on your values and what you think was important during your time on this earth.  If you are fortunate to have friends and family outlive you, the legacy you leave behind is etched by your efforts.  The things you found worthy of your “fucks” will be topic of memories each time your existence is brought up.  The beauty is that if you start now, you can author this. With a bit of restraint, you too can stop improper allocation of fucks,

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