As a newspaper reporter I spend a lot of time in front of the computer. I am usually researching and writing stories, and when I’m not doing that, I am reading about stuff online. Usually, it is stuff that has nothing to do with my job, and is mainly of interest to me.
I’m obsessed with learning new things, so I dream of being able to speed read a book a day, hell I’d settle for even a book a week. Unfortunately, by the time I get out of work, my eyes aren’t fresh and I have to figure out a way to work out and get caught up on House of Cards. So my book reading time shrinks to about 10 minutes before bed, and maybe another 10 minutes if I have to shit more than once a day.
Thankfully, with audio books both offered on audible and through my local library, I can accomplish my goal of one book a week. I’ve been listening to some good ones too, which is why I’ve started to want to do book reports on some of the ones I read or listen to.
The book that I am listening to now, and almost done with is “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (SANGF)” by Mark Manson. At 29-years-old, this is a book I wish I would have had at 22 when I was just graduating college. Mainly, because most of my 20s were spent jumping from job-to-job a neurotic mess and struggling to find my way and my happiness.
Yes, I am a white entitled college educated male; who was molly coddled by his parents and never really suffered much in his life – minus the death of several friends and relatives at the age of 25. I always shifted the buck and blamed everyone else and measured myself against others. Never willing to jump and take a risk on the things I perceived to have wanted.
This is exactly the type of person Manson writes about in his book, and this is exactly the person I need to try and not be.
With the book almost finished, I am filled with a sort of anxiety in reading what is essentially the anti-self help book. Because now that I know that I am the above described person, the question now becomes what do I do next?
In SANGF, the message is stop trying to chase happiness, only when you accept your current state in life will you actually start to find happiness. There is no such thing as constant happiness. Even when you reach a perceived goal you might have set for yourself you will still have the same problems.
We are constantly creating new standards in which to measure ourselves against, and we have internalized certain values, and SANGF asks the reader to stop this. My own example of this is wanting to have the same level of wealth as my friends from college, the issue is that I don’t want any of the things they do in life. I don’t want a house, I don’t want an X-box, I don’t want a new car, and I’m usually disgusted by the fact that I am so attached to the material possessions I already own.
Also, if you want something, truly want something then you need to ask yourself not what is it you want, but rather how much are you willing to suffer? Because, success at anything always involves a modicum of suffering.
That has always been an issue for me. I hate the suffering. I’ve always thought well I’m smart and good looking so things should just happen for me. But they don’t.
Even when I’m doing what I want to do it is never enough. My goal all my adult life was to travel to foreign countries, to be a professional writer, and to write a book. Well I’ve done all those things, but it wasn’t in the way or the extent that I had envisioned.
I’ve been to Mexico and Tortola, and will be traveling to Europe for a week in October. I write for a newspaper, and I’ve written an unpublished short story collection. I’m literally living my dream and I’m only 29, and it all seems very unsatisfying.
In my head, I feel like I should have already traveled more; be living out of state and working for a prestigious newspaper, magazine or be an in demand freelancer; and be making money off of my book sales.
The reason literally none of that has happened is because of me, because I am lazy and have not put in the time of effort to go beyond my current position in life. I expect things handed to me, and I’ve only done enough to get where I am today in my life. There is no one to blame but myself, and I don’t deserve anything from anyone.
That is why SANGF is so impressive as a book. Instead of telling the reader that they’re special and deserve greatness, it tells them you should become comfortable with you and stop giving a fuck all the time, stop trying to be fucking happy, and if you aren’t doing what you want then either accept that you are the one responsible for this or that your position in life is just fine.
What am I willing to suffer for? Right now, I don’t know. Where I am today, what I’ve accomplished I can precisely pinpoint to two events in my life. Those events are my father dying and my girlfriend breaking up with me.
That extreme emotional suffering motivated me to travel to Tortola, to take a job as an underpaid reporter and to move away from home, and to write a fucking short story collection. It broke me out of my habits, and it changed me.
When I reflect on this, I actually am kind of happy, I’m happy that I’ve done what I’ve done with my life. Before, reading SANGF none of that seemed satisfying.
I’ve read some criticism online about the book, mainly that it is has repurposed some of the buddhist teachings, and that it is vulgar. To that I say, so the fuck what? Even if these aren’t Manson’s own original ideas, nothing ever is. Our ideas are the sum of our experiences.
Manson is a good writer, and from looking at his blog seems quite generous. He offers a number of courses and exclusive paid content. But unlike other websites that have similar services he only charges $4 a month or $40 a year to get all of it. Most websites charge you per course, or at the very least a much higher price for complete access to their content.
I haven’t explored any of the online courses to actually know if they are any good, but at least the guy has made the whole thing accessible enough that even a bum on the street could afford it.
After reading this book, I want to start doing psychologists Jordan Peterson’s self-authoring and future authoring programs. The programs are supposed to help people take a critical look at their life and to start re-writing the internal dialogues they have with themselves. This could all be mumbo jumbo, but if his program does what the website claims then I could see SANGF and Peterson’s program working well with one another.