Chapter 1 - The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
We are told that in life, "a man fights for what he wants, never gives up, and eventually achieves his wildest dreams". Because of this, we end up giving a f*ck about a lot of things that we want to achieve. What we don't realize is that we have limited f*cks to give in life. We have to choose the important things we need to give a f*ck about, and stop giving a f*ck about the rest.
"The key to a good life is not giving a f*ck about more; it's giving a f*ck about less, giving a f*ck about only what is true and immediate and important."
All the conventional life advice we hear all the time, all the "positive and happy self-help stuff" focuses on what you lack ("what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be") and why you should give a f*ck about getting it. An ad for the gym showing a model with 6 pack abs is designed to make you start giving a f*ck about your own physique and join the gym to get 6 pack abs as well. We are constantly bombarded with such messages to give a f*ck - about a new TV, about a better vacation, about your physical appearance. We think that by giving a f*ck, we are focusing on achieving something positive (getting 6 pack abs sounds like a pretty positive thing).
"We have so much fucking stuff and so many opportunities that we don't even know what to give a f*ck about anymore."
Wanting to achieve something positive is a negative experience, but acknowledging something negative is a positive experience. If you "want to get 6 pack abs", you're focusing on not having them - that's a negative experience. Accepting your body for what it is and acknowledging that you will probably never look like the model in the ad for the gym is a positive experience. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do things like going to the gym! You still need to hit the gym, but without giving a f*ck about your abs or how you look. When you don't give a f*ck about something, you seem to start getting better at it.
"The more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become." (Philosopher Alan Watts referred to this as "the backward law")
Remember: not giving a f*ck about something is not being indifferent - that's being a psychopath. Not giving a f*ck is about being comfortable with being different. Being comfortable with not having the latest smart TV at home, not having 6 pack abs, not going for vacation with your coworkers to The Bahamas.
"To not give a f*ck is to stare down life's most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action."
Society (through consumer culture and social media) makes it look like having negative experiences (like anxiety, fear, guilt, etc.) is totally not okay. So when we have these experiences, we start feeling bad. And because as humans we have the capability of having thoughts about thoughts, we start feeling bad about feeling bad about having those negative experiences. That makes us even more sad. That's the feedback loop from hell! We need to realize that feeling bad is totally okay!
"Everything worthwile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience."
To short-circuit the feedback loop, you need to learn how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively. You need to choose what matters to you and what does not, based on your own personal values. You need to accept the fact that the world is totally f*cked and that's all right, because it's always been that way, and always will be. Instead of trying to get away from all the sh*t, you need to try finding sh*t that you enjoy dealing with.
"Whether we realize it or not, we are always choosing what to give a f*ck about... Maturity is what happens when one learns only to give a f*ck about what's truly f*ckworthy."