The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is a beautiful, poetic, fucking rad piece of literature. The Cliff-notes version? Not giving a fuck is way more difficult than it seems.
This isn’t a science book. It doesn’t rely on the authority of scientific studies, or literature, or experts. Because it doesn’t give a fuck about any of that shit. It’s an analysis of the world we live in based on observation and experimentation, told by a hell of a storyteller. Mark Manson just describes the reality that we all feel, all know, and all fear.
The core thesis is very simple. “You’re gonna die someday.” Everything else is just bullshit that we do while we’re waiting for that day. So why the fuck would you freak out about getting stuck in traffic? Or get pissed off at the dude in front of you at the cashier who’s paying in pennies? There are only so many fucks to give, so why waste them on shit like that?
The name of the book obscures the wisdom in the book. Manson does what I’ve been doing since I started writing for Mixed Mental Arts: he looks to philosophy that’s been around for millennia to make his point that not giving a fuck is the key to self-actualization. He points out how dumb we have been in the past and tries to learn something from it. And he backs it up with simple and direct interpretations of science. This is a good fucking book.
Wu-Wei: Ancient Chinese Honey Badger
無爲 is the core of Daodejing: The Classic of Finding the Way (I’m gonna translate this differently every time, deal with it). Ancient knowledge that tells you not to give a fuck is pretty powerful. Like a good soup, it takes a long time to simmer for it to get to the sweet spot of wisdom.
無爲 is flow. It is acting without thinking. It is not acting at all. Wu-Wei is nirvana. It is understanding that the more you try to control something, the less control you have over that thing. It is also understanding that the more you try to understand something, the more things you realize you don’t understand.
The hardest hitting part of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is that there is no how.
There is no way to figure out Wu-Wei. There is no way to figure out how to live life to self actualization. There’s no pathway to not giving a fuck. Fucking figure it out.
And now, for some ego-obliterating awesomeness.