The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

· 3 min read


The subtle art of not giving a fuck: a counterintuitive approach to living a good life by Mark Manson; as its name suggests is an unconventional book where Mark shares his approach to defining life’s values in terms of “giving a fuck”.

Key Takeaways

Self-Awareness Onion Layers

Layer 1
Simple understanding of one’s emotional states.
Layer 2
Emotional blind spots.
Layer 3
Ability to ask why we feel emotions. (For root cause analysis)
Layer 4
Personal values - why do I consider this success or failure. How am I measuring it. By which standard am I using to judge myself and others.

5 Values

Taking responsibility for everything that occurs in your life, regardless of who’s at fault.
The acknowledgement of your own ignorance and the cultivation of constant doubt in your own beliefs.
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 own mortality.

Wrong values and metrics for life

  1. Pleasure
  2. Material success
  3. Always being right
  4. Staying positive

These are side effects of good values. But bad values on their own - they are highs.


Self-improvement is essentially prioritising values and choosing better values and things to give a fuck about.

Better “fucks”, produces better problems; and better problems, means a better life.

Traits of Good Values

1 - reality based
2 - socially constructive
3 - immediate and controllable

Traits of Bad Values

1 - superstitious
2 - socially destructive
3 - not immediate or controllable

Bad values are generally reliant on external events
Popularity is an example of a bad value as its out of your control

Manson’s Law of Avoidance

The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it. Therefore, we should not “find ourselves”; Because, once we find ourselves (or define ourselves) we will avoid anything that will affect or change our identity.

3 difficult questions to answer in order to get to the core of the problem

  1. What if I’m wrong?
  2. What would it mean if I were wrong?
  3. Would being wrong create a better or a worse problem than my current problem, for both myself and others?

Do something principle

Action > Inspiration > Motivation

Unconditional love

Unconditional love is not giving a fuck about everything your partner gives a fuck about; but giving a fuck about your partner regardless of the fucks he or she gives.

Trust is like a China plate

Trust is like a china plate: the more times it’s broken, the harder it becomes to put back together, and there’s a point where it’s impossible to put back together.

Extra Notes

Use of coarse language
If the title of the book does not already give it away. Mark uses the F word a lot.

Get the Book

Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, or Audiobook from Amazon

These are affiliate links, see disclaimer for more information.