The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Easy to read, fun and well-written book, where actually lots of SERIOUS life lessons are addressed - giving fcks about the important things in life and not giving a fck for everything else.

Book highlights and notes

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

The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships.

Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience.

Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.

They say, “Fuck it,” not to everything in life, but rather to everything unimportant in life.

It then follows that finding something important and meaningful in your life is perhaps the most productive use of your time and energy.

Because if you don’t find that meaningful something, your fucks will be given to meaningless and frivolous causes.

Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy.

We have evolved to always live with a certain degree of dissatisfaction and insecurity, because it’s the mildly dissatisfied and insecure creature that’s going to do the most work to innovate and survive.

Like physical pain, our psychological pain is an indication of something out of equilibrium, some limitation that has been exceeded.

“Don’t hope for a life without problems,” the panda said. “There’s no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems.”

Problems never stop; they merely get exchanged and/or upgraded.

True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.

In other words, negative emotions are a call to action.

Sadly, to deny one’s negative emotions is to deny many of the feedback mechanisms that help a person solve problems.

Decision-making based on emotional intuition, without the aid of reason to keep it in line, pretty much always sucks.

“What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”

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.

People want to start their own business. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, the insane hours devoted to something that may earn absolutely nothing.

The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they’re obsessed with improvement.

And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all.

As Freud once said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”

I see life in the same terms. We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it’s easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choices we make with those cards, the risks we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they’re given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life.

Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we don’t go from “wrong” to “right.” Rather, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong.

Being wrong opens us up to the possibility of change. Being wrong brings the opportunity for growth. It means not cutting your arm open to cure a cold or splashing dog piss on your face to look young again. It means not thinking “mediocre” is a vegetable, and not being afraid to care about things.

Second, once we create meaning for ourselves, our brains are designed to hold on to that meaning. We are biased toward the meaning our mind has made, and we don’t want to let go of it. Even if we see evidence that contradicts the meaning we created, we often ignore it and keep on believing anyway.

Our beliefs are malleable, and our memories are horribly unreliable.

Some of the worst criminals felt pretty damn good about themselves. And it was this feeling good about themselves in spite of the reality around them that gave them the sense of justification for hurting and disrespecting others.

The more you try to be certain about something, the more uncertain and insecure you will feel.

Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth.

The narrower and rarer the identity you choose for yourself, the more everything will seem to threaten you. For that reason, define yourself in the simplest and most ordinary ways possible.

Action → Inspiration → Motivation

If we follow the “do something” principle, failure feels unimportant.

Acts of love are valid only if they’re performed without conditions or expectations.

It’s not about giving a fuck about everything your partner gives a fuck about; it’s about giving a fuck about your partner regardless of the fucks he or she gives. That’s unconditional love, baby.

Paradox of choice. Basically, the more options we’re given, the less satisfied we become with whatever we choose, because we’re aware of all the other options we’re potentially forfeiting.

There is no reason to ever give in to one’s fear or embarrassment or shame, since it’s all just a bunch of nothing anyway;

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