I consider myself as someone, that is pretty stoic. I rarely get upset by things and “keep my cool” most of the time. To outsiders, who don’t know me well, this most often seems as if I would not care. But these are two different things: accepting things as they are is something fundamentally different than not caring about them. It is more about choosing what is important to me and accepting what is not. This is why I got intrigued by Mark Mansons book The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck.
The author does not see himself as a stoic, reading his book, it seems that he more identifies with Buddhism. In chapter 2 he does in fact draw parallels to Buddhism and how life is an ongoing struggle and that we need to accept that. He also makes the point on how we should not let us guide through emotion:
Decision-making based on emotional intuition, without the aid of reason to keep it in line, pretty much always sucks. You know who bases their entire lives on their emotions? Three-year-old kids. And dogs. You know what else three-year-olds and dogs do? Shit on the carpet.Manson 2016, 35.
Another point he is making is about how in our culture, we all see ourselves as exceptional, which today has become the new normal. By chasing this dream of being exceptional, which only some people achieve, we constantly feel like a failure. This is in my opinion an important point, that is also enhanced by the Social-Media culture. Authors like Cal Newport or James Clear also draw attention to this.
I totally agree here. Young students today expect to be a full-grown academic after two years of study as this is what society expects. But the truth lies far beyond that. Like everything a profession needs training and experience. If students finish with their degree and then recognize, that they are not as good as expected, they feel disappointed. I then usually tell the story, that I really learned driving AFTER I got my license.
In the book, the author offers advice on how we can actually be in peace with the struggle of life and gives some examples and guidelines. As I am more interested in productivity than in general life advice, I was thinking about how this book and his theories can help me/us in leading a more productive life. I think the answer lies in in fact in the Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck.
The lesson I have learned from this book is, that we do our own choosing. We choose about what we get excited or upset. This can help immensely. Did you ever use the phrase “I do not have the time”? This also is your choosing, you decide on what you spend your time. It often feels like we do not have the control right? But the thing is, we do, but we need to learn to focus. Focus on the important things and get rid of everything else.
Mark Manson is a pretty successful blogger and the style of writing blog posts has clearly influenced his style of writing this book. Short chapters and loose language need a short time of acclimatisation. Beneath his style of writing however, lies some interesting truths.
Mark Manson has a website with more information about him and his books: https://markmanson.net/