The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck focuses on living a better life by caring about fewer things. In this book review, I share the simple rules author and blogger Mark Manson, shares in his book that will help anyone lead a happier, less stressful life.

Who wil benefit from reading this book?

  • Anyone feeling stressed out or overwhelmed 
  • Anyone who has too much to do
  • Anyone concerned about their legacy and what they will leave behind

We have so many options open to us that we end up thinking all the different options and choices available to us. In other words we spread ourselves too thin and burning ourselves out.

What you will learn

  • What’s holding you back from being happy
  • Get clarity on what you want to achieve
  • How to choose values to live by
  • Rules you can apply to take control of your life and be much happier


What do you want written on your headstone?

Many of us will say they want happiness, a loving family and a job that makes us happy. Which is great, but in reality pretty vague. And vague is problematic, because vague goals won’t push you to achieve success. (Read my post The Two Step Process For Setting Goals You Will Achieve)

It’s probably no surprise that achieving your goals will take hard work and plenty of perseverance and of course it goes without saying that there will be roadblocks long the way. So if you don’t have a goal you’re passionate and determined about achieving, you probably aren’t going to achieve it.

Put another way, since you’re going to be struggling anyway, you might as well work on something thing that  makes you happy and is worth struggling for.

Be ruthless and stop doing things that don’t make you happy.

Put more simply; work on a few things that you care about and make you happy and don’t give a fuck about anything else.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

Measuring yourself by comparing yourself to others will only lead lead to disappointment. 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck gives the examples of Dave Mustaine and Pete Best both guitarists and both sacked from their bands right on the cusp of fame.

Dave Mustaine was thrown out of Metallica in 1983. Determined to prove his band mates wrong, he worked hard to improve his skills and eventually formed Megadeth who went on to sell 25 million records.

But, despite the success of Megadeth, Mustaine wasn’t happy as he judged his success against Metallica, one of the world’s largest and most succesful music acts.

Pete Best on the other hand was kicked out of the Beatles. Initially he was depressed, but over time he realised he wanted a loving family and home life, so the focus on family led to happy life.

Comparing yourself to others, is just one of the shitty values that Manson states will lead to disappoint. 

Many people make pleasure a priority in their lives. The trouble with chasing pleasure though is that it can lead to some undesirable things such as addiction. Research shows that those who chase pleasure are likely to be anxious and depressed.

Another shitty value is material success. Research shows that once your basic needs are satisfied, extra wealth doesn’t increase happiness.  Chasing wealth can have an detrimental effect on other values such as family, honesty and integrity.

Focus on Good Values

Instead of shitty values, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck suggests focusing on worthwhile values. These good values should:

  • Be based in reality
  • Be helpful to society
  • Have an immediate and controllable effect

A great example of a value that fulfils all three criteria is honesty. Honesty is a great value to live by because you can control it (i.e. it’s either truthful or it’s not), it’s based in reality and because it provides truthful feedback to others, it’s helpful.

Other examples of values satisfying all three criteria are humility, generosity and creativity.

Sometimes we feel like victims, but positive change only happens when you take full responsibility for your life.

Feeling obligated to do something robs it of its joy. For example, say you enjoy running. So you decide to enter a marathon. Chances are you’d enjoy the experience. But say you were forced to do a marathon by peer pressure. No matter how well you run, chances are you’d hate every minute of it.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck gives the example of being dumped by your partner. It would be all too easy to blame your former partner for the relationship break up, but it would be better to to look at how you were responsible for the failure. Maybe you didn’t do your fair share of the household chores or maybe you partied too much or support their career. 

By realising and working on your mistakes, you can avoid them in the future. Only then can you live a better, happier life.

Let go of your identity

Most people introduce themselves by the job they do: It’s who they are. Bhudism teaches that identity is an illusion (called the false ego of self) – that whatever labels you give yourself, rich, poor, happy, sad are merely mental constructs.  They just aren’t real and you shouldn’t let them dictate our lives.

In other words you need to let go of your identity.

Accept your mistakes

At one time or another most of us have thought we were right when we were actually wrong. But to avoid being seen as the “smug know it all”, you’ve got to be willing to ask yourself whether you’re wrong. Again and again. 

Sounds simple, but quite often our false beliefs cover up insecurities. Which means that if we constantly question our decisions and actions, we’ll uncover the truths about ourselves. So by being ready to question your beliefs and face your insecurities you can behave in a happier, healthier way.

Control Romantic Love

Romantic love can be either healthy or unhealthy. Unhealthy love happens when the partners use the relationship as a distraction.  For example work colleagues having an affair to run away from problems in their own relationships.  

Healthy love, on the other hand exists when both parties are totally invested in the relationship, rather than using it as a distraction. Instead of focusing on their own needs and feelings, each person provides support to the other.

Stop Giving a F*ck About Fame and Power

Many people chase fame or seek to make their mark on the world in other ways. The urge to make a mark on the world though causes stress and anxiety. It can lead to destruction and misery.

If we stop giving a f*ck about fame and power and concentrate on the present, we’ll be happier where we are.

Embrace JOMO

We spend our lives trying to do too much which leads to a feeling of stress and unhappiness and overwhelm.  Each of us needs “to stop giving a fuck” about the things that make us unhappy and choose what it is we really care about. 

If you want to live a happy life, focus only on the things you enjoy. Whether that’s enjoying the struggle or buildng a healthy relationship. Everything else is pointless.

Fomo (Fear of Missing Out) keeps us stressed out striving to achieve more, but the truth is, we can’t do everything. We can’t have the perfect business or the perfect career, lots of family time and endless amounts of time mountain biking or kite surfing. 

In other words we need to forget about FOMO and embrace the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO)

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

– Mark Manson The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Click here to buy The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck on Amazon.

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