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5 Things We Learned from the F*cking Best Self-Help Book Weve Read in Forever
Cover: HarperOne/Background: Twenty20

At any given time, we’re worrying about at least six different things. It’s stressful. But Mark Manson has the solution in his 2016 book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. It’s —as the title suggests—to give fewer f*cks. His advice is funny, blunt and hugely helpful. We highly recommend reading the entire book, but if you don’t, internalize the following five tips to live a happier, freer life.

1. Bask in your averageness
The book quotes Albert Camus, who said, “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.” The endless search for happiness has become toxic because of our culture’s hatred of being average. Manson bluntly tells us that, in reality, most of us are average, and that the actual key to happiness is accepting that mundane truth. “The vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that’s OK,” he notes. Accepting your averageness will allow you to accomplish things without judgment or unrealistic expectations.

2. Stop trying to buy the best stuff
Once you’re able to provide for basic needs like food and shelter, being super successful doesn’t actually add that much additional happiness. So basically, if you’re living in extreme poverty, $10,000 would massively affect your happiness, but if you’re living comfortably, the same $10,000 won’t do that much for you, day-to-day. Sure, it’s going against the grain to devalue having the biggest house and the newest car, but in the long run it will—like admitting your averageness—take some of the overwhelming pressure off of you.

3. Admit when you’re wrong…
A major theme throughout the book is the importance of self-awareness. Take know-it-alls, for example. Manson argues that people whose self-worth is based on their being right about everything are keeping themselves from learning from their mistakes. Chances are, you are wrong sometimes, and admitting that isn’t only human, it’s essential to your growth as a person.

4. …And that life sucks sometimes
Pretending everything is sunshine and roses is counterproductive and ineffective. Instead of faking a smile and saying everything’s OK, acknowledge that life sucks sometimes—it’s actually really healthy. Manson says, “Denying negative emotions leads to experiencing deeper and more prolonged negative emotions and to emotional dysfunction.” People who are unshakably positive, he argues, are avoiding reality and hurting themselves in the long run. Refusing to admit that things are bad perpetuates those bad things instead of solving them, so the best thing to do is be honest about problems and work to solve them.

5. Care about *some* things, just not everything
The book’s title is a bit misleading in that Manson isn’t saying you shouldn’t give a f*ck about anything. What you should do is pick and choose what you give a f*ck about, based on your priorities and values. “[Caring too much] causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction,” he explains. The opposite, though, is indifference, which Manson says makes you “lame and scared.” To find a balance, take a hard look at your life as it is now and how you want it to be, and only concern yourself with things that will help you achieve happiness as you’ve defined it. Wow, that actually sounds pretty easy. 

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