What it’s about

As it says on the cover: ‘A counterintuitive approach to living a good life’. An important and interesting approach on how to choose what and what not to care about. It also talks about how to embrace the challenges we encounter in life.  

Who it’s for

Everyone. I don’t tend to read self-help or motivational books (although sometimes they are really useful). However, I do think it is a counterintuitive yet honest and realistic perspective on how to deal with life. Very useful and needed. 

What I like about it

A lot of Manson’s philosophical ideas are ones that I have been trying to use and implement even way before reading his book (e.g. trying to accept difficult circumstances for what they are and to stop over-thinking). It just gave me a greater insight into this kind of approach to life. A quick, fun, and easy read.  

Keep in Mind  

Contains some profanity.  

My Book Nuggets

This is my first Book Nugget Post and I’m going to try and refine my thoughts on this book in the most concise way I can. I apologise if I waffle on, or if it’s a long post- there’s just so much thought-provoking stuff in here.  

An intro  

… giving too many f*cks is bad for your mental health. It causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction.  

Mark Manson, page 5.

Pretty much summarises the great and truthful insights of this book.  

Caring too much about what others think  

… all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time- is actually fixating on what you lack.

Mark Manson, page 5.

A lot of people- including myself for sure – make a lot of effort to try and impress others. While it is important to make a good impression of yourself and to strive to be your best version of yourself, it seems we sometimes care too much about portraying an image. We try to get that image across to other people and trying to prove a point. 

If you’re trying too hard to convey a certain life that you live (or wish to live) to others, that ‘life’ is probably not actually one you are genuinely living. I’m not saying at all that we shouldn’t share our lives with others. It’s just that sometimes, we shouldn‘t try too hard. And the stuff we share with others- especially on social media- should be a true reflection of our lives.   

“Have more than what you show. Speak less of what you know.” 

Stop trying to deny the negative 

The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

Mark Manson, page 5.

At first, this concept might seem a bit difficult to fully wrap your head around. Manson talks about not always being so positive, or not always trying to see the good in a bad situation. But then encourages using negative experiences as a positive experience. On the surface, it seems quite contradictory.  

However, it makes a lot of sense. I think that what Manson is trying to say is to stop trying to see the positive in every situation. Rather, accept, use, and embrace negative experiences. See them for what they are; stop pretending that difficult situations are better than they actually are. When you are in undesirable situations or challenges hit you in the face, instead of denying it as a bad experience, try to accept it for the negative experience it is and work to solve it.  

A lot of the time, I try to see the good in every bad situation- it’s not something you should always avoid. But sometimes, when we try to see the brighter side of every hindrance that comes our way, we don’t try to overcome that hindrance and tackle it. It is also a good practice for when there is literally no silver lining of a situation.  

A bit more about embracing the negative

… the only way to overcome pain is to first learn how to bear it. 

Mark Manson, page 21.

I think this is so important to know and use. I am trying to put it into practice by trying to not avoid difficult situations. Rather than trying to escape less ideal situations, I am trying to see if experiencing such situations make me a better person (as cliché as it sounds, there is a lot of truth to it).  

Personal example: being asked to do more overtime at work. Even though I actually enjoy work, I would rather have a day off. It requires a lot of effort- an effort I would rather exert elsewhere. I am using this menial example because I had a choice: the luxury of having a day off, or the effort and challenge of working an extra day (which is not really a big deal but when you don’t really need the money it is still a hindrance). I knew the most beneficial and practical option was the latter. So, from now on, if I am available (and not exhausted), I will always try to help my work out.  

Other ways to implement this advice: being open to hear constructive criticism and trying to be less sensitive about truths that hurt our feelings.  

Be more emotionally resilient

The more freedom we’re given to express ourselves, the more we want to be free of having to deal with anyone who may disagree with us or upset us. The more exposed we are to opposing viewpoints, the more we seem to get upset that those other viewpoints exist.

Mark Manson, page 57.

I feel like what Manson talks about here has resonated with me for a long time. I will probably do a separate blog post on this topic, as there is so much to say about it. Essentially, what Manson maintains is that society is becoming too entitled and sensitive to opinions and occurrences that we should be more resilient to. Of course, there are a lot of serious things we need to care about. There is a lot of injustice in this world, and we should always try our best to alleviate it.  

But sometimes, all the general complaints and movements that claim to serve justice are based on selfish and ignorant grounds. Or even worse, based on superficiality. A lot of issues raised from this thinking relate to the debate on freedom of speech and hate speech. I would love to share my own thoughts on this topic in a separate post, as it has (unsurprisingly) come up quite a few times in my undergrad Philosophy degree. In short, perhaps it is not so much about trying to define the line between what freedom of speech is acceptable or not but teaching ‘emotional resilience’ to everyone.  

Don’t believe everything

We should approach the news and media with a healthy dose of scepticism and avoid painting those who disagree with us with a broad brush. 

Mark Manson, page 112.

This relates to the previous point on being more open-minded and emotionally resilient. Often, what triggers the sensitivity, the offense, and entitlement is the media. It’s the ‘news’ we see on TV and the posts we read on social media. It’s so difficult to think rationally and objectively when the trending content of social media is so ubiquitous and influential.   

Instead of blindly agreeing to an emotional post about someone who was offended by something, practice being more open-minded. You can sympathise about something whilst also being aware that there is always another side to a story.  

If you thought these nuggets were interesting, give the book a go!

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