The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

by Mark Manson

Excerpts from the book; notes by JFR

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Explaining the title (p14):

  1. Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.
  2. To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.
  3. Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.

Solve problems, be happy.

“Man is defined by opposition.”

(Gamers… like to solve “imaginary” problems?)


Denial = “My problems don’t exist.”

Victim = “There’s nothing I can do about my problems.”

Both result in a quick, temporary high, “feeling good” about being problem-free or self-righteous..


Negative emotions = call to action


Motivation is a circular cycle, and you might jump in at any point. Some people will start by being motivated to do a thing; others might start with inspiration; others (particularly people who are depressed or otherwise experiencing negative emotions / not experiencing emotions) will need to start with action.


In a culture of fear, trust is a valuable currency.


“To value X, must you reject non-X?”


Good values:

  1. Reality-based
  2. Socially constructive
  3. Immediate, controllable

Bad values:

  1. Superstitious
  2. Socially destructive
  3. Not immediate, not controllable

Responsibility != fault

Choose your problems, then accept the present moment


Outrage is pleasurable and unhealthy.


Beliefs are inherently wrong.


Meredith Maran famously was convinced (with help from her therapist) that she remembered being abused as a child, then years later realized it was a fabricated memory. (and wrote several books about it)


The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.


Don’t try to be special or unique.


Questions to encourage uncertainty:


Goals as ongoing challenges that encourage continual growth (“Express myself honestly”) (Does this conflict with the concept of goals being temporally defined and actionable? Perhaps not, if it triggers every time there is an opportunity for expression.)


It’s a problem when emotions define reality – “It feels like ____”


Difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships (p176)

  1. How well each person accepts responsibility
  2. The willingness of each person to both reject and be rejected by their partner
  3. Clear boundaries between the two people and their values; delineation between responsibilities for your own problems

People in a toxic relationship will regularly avoid responsibility for their own problems and/or take responsibility for their partner’s problems, trying to solve the other’s problems to feel good about themselves

Healthy = two people solve their own problems in order to feel good about each other


“Entitled people who take the blame for other people’s emotions and actions do so because they believe that if they ‘fix’ their partner and save him/her they will receive the love and appreciation they’ve always wanted.”


Victims create problems to solve in order to get attention/affection;

Savers solve problems in order to deserve attention and affection.


“…there is freedom and liberation in commitment.”


Rejection of all but the very best people and experiences and values