Notes for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
When you stop and really thing about it, conventional life advice - all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time - is actually fixating on what you lack. It lasers in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be, and then emphasizes them for you.
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.
To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.
Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.
Happiness is not a solvable equation. Dissatisfaction and unease are inherent parts of human nature and, as we'll see, necessary components to creating consistent happiness.
Pain, in all of its forms, is our body's most effective means of spurring action.
The solution to one problem is merely the creation of the next one.
Our struggles determine our successes. Our problems birth our happiness, along with slightly better, slightly upgraded problems. See: 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.
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.
The ticket to emotional health is accepting the bland and mundane truths of life: truth such as "Your actions actually don't matter that much in the grand scheme of things" and " The vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that's okay."
Good values are 1) reality-based, 2) socially constructive, and 3) immediate and controllable
Bad values are 1) superstitious, 2) socially destructive, and 3) immediate and controllable.
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.
Five life-changing values:
- Radical Form of Responsibility
taking responsibility for everything that occurs in your life, regardless of who's at fault.
the acknowledgment of you own ignorance and the cultivations of constant doubt in your own belief.
the willingness to discover your own flaws and mistakes so that they may be improved upon
the ability to both say and hear no, thus clearly defining what you will and will not accept in your life
- Contemplation of One's Mortality
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.
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 interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.
Our most radical changes in perspective often happen at the tail end of our worst moments. It's only when we feel intense pain that we're willing to look at our values and question why they seem to be failing us. We need some sort of existential crisis to take an objective look at how we've been deriving meaning in our life, and consider changing course.
Life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway.
Freedom grants the opportunity for greater meaning, but by itself there is nothing necessarily meaningful about it. Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in on't life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or (gulp) one person.
Death scares us. And because it scares us, we avoid thinking about it, talking about it, sometimes even acknowledging it, even when it's happening to someone close to us. Yet, in a bizarre, backwards way, death is the light by which the shadow of all of life's meaning is measured. Without death, everything would feel inconsequential, all experience arbitrary, all metrics and values suddenly zero.
Death is the only thing we can know with any certainty. The only was to be comfortable with death is to understand and see yourself as something bigger than yourself; to choose values that stretch beyond serving yourself, that are simple and immediate and controllable and tolerant of the chaotic world around you. This is the basic root of all happiness.