Mark Manson

I watched the interview video of Mark Manson on youtube and decided to read his book. I must indeed say that this book really makes you evaluate your perspective about your life and show you a way how to live it on your own terms like the earlier book “The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck”.

Mark Manson is very vocal about how we should deal with our pain and problems in our life. He very lucidly explains what should we treasure and what should we discard in our beliefs.

The book has taught me these following valuable lessons –

  • a) Importance of Pain
  • Pain is what teaches us what to pay attention to when we’re young or careless. It helps show us what’s good for us versus what’s bad for us. It helps us understand and adhere to our own limitations. It teaches us to not fuck around near hot stoves or stick metal objects into electrical sockets.
  • The only way to overcome pain is to first learn how to bear it.
  • If suffering is inevitable, if our problems in life are unavoidable, then the question we should be asking is not “How do I stop suffering?” but “Why am I suffering—for what purpose?”
  • b) Difference between Happiness and Joy
  • Happiness comes from solving problems. The keyword here is “solving.” If you’re avoiding your problems or feel like you don’t have any problems, then you’re going to make yourself miserable. If you feel like you have problems that you can’t solve, you will likewise make yourself miserable.
    The secret sauce is in the solving of the problems, not in not having problems in the first place.
  • Emotions evolved for one specific purpose: to help us live and reproduce a little bit better. That’s it. They’re feedback mechanisms telling us that something is either likely right or likely wrong for us—nothing more, nothing less.
  • Because happiness requires struggle. It grows from problems.
  • Joy doesn’t just sprout out of the ground like daisies and rainbows. Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through the choosing and managing of our struggles. Whether you suffer from anxiety or loneliness or obsessive-compulsive disorder or a dickhead boss who ruins half of your waking hours every day, the solution lies in the acceptance and active engagement of that negative experience—not the avoidance of it, not the salvation from it.
  • It’s a never-ending upward spiral. And if you think at any point you’re allowed to stop climbing, I’m afraid you’re missing the point. Because the joy is in the climb itself.
  • c) Self-worth
  • The true measurement of self-worth is not how a person feels about her positive experiences, but rather how she feels about her negative experiences.
  • A person who actually has a high self-worth is able to look at the negative parts of his character frankly—“Yes, sometimes I’m irresponsible with money,” “Yes, sometimes I exaggerate my own successes,” “Yes, I rely too much on others to support me and should be more self-reliant”—and then acts to improve upon them.
  • d) Self-Awareness and Values
  • Self-awareness is like an onion. There are multiple layers to it, and the more you peel them back, the more likely you’re going to start crying at inappropriate times. Let’s say the first layer of the self-awareness onion is a simple understanding of one’s emotions. “This is when I feel happy.”
  • The second layer of the self-awareness onion is an ability to ask why we feel certain emotions.
  • But there’s another, even deeper level of the self-awareness onion. And that one is full of fucking tears. The third level is our personal values: Why do I consider this to be success/failure? How am I choosing to measure myself? By what standard am I judging myself and everyone around me?
  • Because our values determine the nature of our problems, and the nature of our problems determines the quality of our lives.
  • If you want to change how you see your problems, you have to change what you value and/or how you measure failure/success.
  • This is why these values—pleasure, material success, always being right, staying positive—are poor ideals for a person’s life. Some of the greatest moments of one’s life are not pleasant, not successful, not known, and not positive.
  • Good values are 1) reality-based, 2) socially constructive, and 3) immediate and controllable.
  • Bad values are 1) superstitious, 2) socially destructive, and 3) not immediate or controllable.
  • When we have poor values—that is, poor standards we set for ourselves and others—we are essentially giving fucks about the things that don’t matter, things that in fact make our life worse. But when we choose better values, we are able to divert our fucks to something better—toward things that matter, things that improve the state of our well-being and that generate happiness, pleasure, and success as side effects. This, in a nutshell, is what “self-improvement” is really about: prioritizing better values, choosing better things to give a fuck about. Because when you give better fucks, you get better problems. And when you get better problems, you get a better life.
  • e) Take Charge of your Life
  • The first step is taking responsibility for everything that occurs in your life, regardless of who’s at fault.
  • The second is uncertainty: the acknowledgement of your own ignorance and the cultivation of constant doubt in your own beliefs.
  • The next is failure: the willingness to discover your own flaws and mistakes so that they may be improved upon.
  • The fourth is rejection: the ability to both say and hear no, thus clearly defining what you will and will not accept in your life. The final value is the contemplation of one’s own mortality; this one is crucial, because paying vigilant attention to one’s own death is perhaps the only thing capable of helping us keep all our other values in proper perspective.
  • If you’re miserable in your current situation, chances are it’s because you feel like some part of it is outside your control—that there’s a problem you have no ability to solve, a problem that was somehow thrust upon you without your choosing.
  • When we feel that we’re choosing our problems, we feel empowered. When we feel that our problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimized and miserable.
  • 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.
  • Accepting responsibility for our problems is thus the first step to solving them.
  • “With great responsibility comes great power.”
  • f) Dealing with Problems
  • Mr. Packwood used to say, “If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.”
  • Action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it.
  • Emotional inspiration → Motivation → Desirable action
  • If you want to accomplish something but don’t feel motivated or inspired, then you assume you’re just screwed. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s not until a major emotional life event occurs that you can generate enough motivation to actually get off the couch and do something. The thing about motivation is that it’s not only a three-part chain, but an endless loop: Inspiration → Motivation → Action → Inspiration → Motivation → Action → Etc.
  • If we follow the “do something” principle, failure feels unimportant. When the standard of success becomes merely acting—when any result is regarded as progress and important, when inspiration is seen as a reward rather than a prerequisite—we propel ourselves ahead.
  • We feel free to fail, and that failure moves us forward.
  • Start simple. Make it a goal to listen to someone’s problem and give some of your time to helping that person. Just do it once. Or promise yourself that you will assume that you are the root of your problems next time you get upset. Just try on the idea and see how it feels.
  • g) Focus of Our Life
  • Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or (gulp) one person.
  • The point is this: we all must give a fuck about something, in order to value something. And to value something, we must reject what is not that something. To value X, we must reject non-X.
  • That rejection is an inherent and necessary part of maintaining our values, and therefore our identity.
  • We are defined by what we choose to reject. And if we reject nothing (perhaps in fear of being rejected by something ourselves), we essentially have no identity at all.
  • People can’t solve your problems for you. And they shouldn’t try, because that won’t make you happy.
  • You can’t solve other people’s problems for them either, because that likewise won’t make them happy.
  • The mark of an unhealthy relationship is two people who try to solve each other’s problems in order to feel good about themselves.
  • You are already great because in the face of endless confusion and certain death, you continue to choose what to give a fuck about and what not to. This mere fact, this simple optioning for your own values in life, already makes you beautiful, already makes you successful, and already makes you loved. Even if you don’t realize it. Even if you’re sleeping in a gutter and starving.
  • Gist of the book in the words of the author is as follows:
  • Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience.
  • One should learn certain subtleties in one’s life such as
  • Subtlety #1: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.
  • Subtlety #2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.
  • Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.

I say, you do give a fuck to read this book and benefit from the wisdom and perspective of the author. The trouble is nowadays we overthink about superfluous things and tend to ignore core things that may shape our life. So dig deep into the book and gather its pearls for your life.