The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson | Book Summary

The Book in Three Sentences

  • Only give a fuck about things which truly matter because that will liberate you.
  • Problems are inevitable. Identify them or else your mind will make up unimportant problems.
  • Do whatever you want without giving a fuck about anything, because you are going to die anyway.

Who Should Read It?

Anyone who is uncertain about their life and are afraid what people will think about them.

Top Quotes

The desire for more positive experiences is itself a negative experience and acceptance of ones negative experience is a positive experience.


What To Give A Fuck About?

  • Everyone thinks that key to happier life is having a stable job, a house, a car and a beautiful wife.
  • The key to better life is not giving a fuck about more. Rather giving a fuck about less. Giving a fuck about what matters the most.
  • We have so much stuff going around us that we don’t understand what to even give a fuck about.
  • “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.” -Albert Camus
  • You will become unstoppable if stop giving a fuck about the pain required o achieve your goals.
  • Learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts on what is important is the most important struggle in life.


  • Subtlety #1: Not giving a fuck is not about being indifferent. It just means you’re comfortable with being different. Don’t say fuck it to everything in life, just to the unimportant things.
  • Subtlety #2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first care about something more important than adversity.
  • Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about. The key is to gradually prune the things you care about, so that you only give a fuck on the most important of occasions.

Negative Vs Positive Experience

  • Wanting positive experience is a negative experience.
  • Accepting negative experience is a positive experience.
  • Alan Watts’ Backwards Law: The idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.
  • The more rich you want to get, the more poor you feel regardless of how much money you make.
  • The more good looking you want to get, the uglier you feel regardless of your physique.
  • The more you want to be happy and loved, the lonelier you feel.
  • Negative emotions are a sign that something is going unaddressed. They are a call to action. Positive emotions are the reward for taking the correct action.

Suffering Is Important

  • Life itself is a form of suffering. We all suffer.
  • Some suffer because they are poor while others suffer because they are rich. Their kids get spoiled. Some suffer because they don’t have a family while others suffer because they have a family. They may not be able to provide for them.
  • Suffering is invaluable without a purpose.
  • Practical enlightenment is the act of becoming comfortable with the idea that some suffering is always inevitable.

Find Better Problem

  • Find problem to give a fuck about.
  • Because if you don’t. Your mind will automatically create problems.
  • Problems don’t go away. They just get better.
  • Warren Buffett got money problems. And a drunk hobo also have money problems. Buffett’s money problems are just better.
  • The solution to one problem is merely a creation of another one.
  • Don’t hope for a life without problems. There is no such thing. Hope for a life with good problems e.g When you try to solve your overweight problem by joining a gym, you create a new problem of getting up early, eating clean, and obviously paying for the gym.
  • Happiness comes from solving problems. Not having a problem to solve makes your life miserable. That is why a lot of rich people feel miserable in spite of having everything.
  • Happiness comes from solving the problems. Not by not having problems at all.
  • Happiness is found in solving problems, not avoiding them.
  • Happiness is a constant work in progress because solving problems is a constant work in progress.
  • People who have victim mentality blame others for their problems. They feel better for the time being but they feel miserable in future.
  • Denial and acting like a victim is easy while solving problems is difficult.
  • Denial gives us a high. It feels good.
  • Don’t hope for a life without problems. Hope for a life with good problems.
  • Problems never stop. They merely get exchanged or upgraded.
  • I think what most people — especially educated, pampered middle-class white people — consider “life problems” are really just side effects of not having anything more important to worry about.

Power Of Choosing

  • Imagine someone puts a gun to your head and asks you to run 26.2 miles in 5 hours or else he’ll kill you and your entire family.
  • Now image you buy nice shoes, train and decide to run a marathon with all your family members cheering you on.
  • These are exact 26.2 miles, exact same person running them and its the exact same pain your body will feel. But these are two difference experiences.
  • One is horrifying and will scar you for life. While the other one will be one of the proudest moments of your life.
  • So, often times the only difference between a problem being painful or powerful is that we chose it and we are responsible for it.
  • When we choose or problems, we feel empowered. And if we feel that problems are being enforced on us, we feel victimized.
  • William James was complete failure until in his 30s. He even decided to take his life. But one night he decided to take responsibility for everything that will happen in his life for one whole year. He will do everything to make his life better. And if nothing got better, he would accept that life is not in his hands and he will kill himself.
  • He later on became the father of Psychology. His work was translated in a lot of languages. He is now considered as the most intellectual Psychologist and Philosophers of his time.
  • Just like poker, we all are dealt cardd of life. Some get good cards while others get horrible ones. But the person who plays well (makes the right choices) wins the game.

Choose Your Struggles

  • What you enjoy doesn’t determine your success. Rather what pain you want to sustain does.
  • You can’t have a pain free life.
  • What is the pain you want to sustain?
  • “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” -Sigmund Freud

Happiness Comes With Sacrifice

  • Everything comes with its inherited sacrifice.
  • The person we marry is the person we fight with.
  • The house you buy is the house you repair.
  • The job you take is the job you stress over.
  • Everything great in life is gained through the your negative experience associated with it.
  • We like the idea of having ultimate happiness. But in reality what will make us happy will also make us unhappy.

Feedback Loop From Hell

  • You’re so worried about doing the right thing all the time that you become worried about how much you’re worrying.
  • Or you feel guilty for every mistake you make that you begin to feel guilty about how guilty you’re feeling. Or you get sad and alone so often that it makes you feel even more sad and alone just thinking about it. This is the feedback loop from hell.

Being Exceptional In Overrated

  • To become exceptional at something, you have to dedicate shit load of time and energy into it.
  • But to be honest. Most of us don’t have this much time. That is why most of us don’t really become exceptional at anything.
  • You can’t get exceptional in one area of life without compromising another one.
  • Brilliant business people are often fuck ups in their personal lives.
  • Some great athletes are dumb as a rock.
  • Its the exceptional which really get highlighted. Extreme good or extreme bad.
  • Average goes unnoticed.
  • That is why we try to become exceptional. And we think that exceptional is the new normal.
  • We start comparing ourselves with them.
  • But vast majority of life is boring. And not being exceptional makes us insecure.
  • We think that we are not good enough.
  • So, don’t try to be exceptional.
  • People who are exceptional become that way by thinking they are average and focusing on improvement. You don’t become exceptional by believing you are exceptional.

Change Your Measure Of Success

  • Dave Mustaine (Guitarist) got kicked out of Matallica when they signed a record deal. He was so angry that he decided to start an other band with the best artists he could find. This band was Megadeth. He and his band also made millions but he was still miserable because his idea of success was to be more successful that Matellica. In spite of making millions, he was still not satisfied with his life.
  • Pete best (Drummer) was kicked out of Beatles right before the band became a worldwide sensation. But when he was interviewed year later. He said that he was living his best life even though other Beatles were making millions. His ideas of success was having a peaceful life and a good partner.

Fault Vs Responsibility

  • The more we chose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will have over our lives.
  • It is in your grasp how you feel about a situation.
  • You are responsible for your own problems.
  • It could be someone’s else fault that problem exist but you are responsible if you even think of it as a problem.
  • It is someone else’s fault that they called you fat, but you are responsible for thinking bad about yourself.
  • If someone does or says something wrong to you. It’s their fault. But you are responsible for how you feel about it.
  • So, no one is responsible for your unhappiness than you.
  • Fault is past, responsibility is present.
  • We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.
  • Accepting responsibility for our problems is the first step to solving them.

Manson’s Law

  • The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.
  • That is why some people can’t be successful because they consider themselves a failure.
  • Dress for the job you want to have. Not the one you already have.
  • If you consider yourself as a 9 to 5 worker, the idea of launching your startup with frighten you to the bones.
  • If I believe I’m a nice guy, I’ll avoid situations that could potentially contradict that belief. If I believe I’m an awesome cook, I’ll seek out opportunities to prove that to myself over and over again. The belief always takes precedence.
  • Manson’s idea of “kill yourself” is similar to Paul Graham’s idea of “keep your identity small.” The central point is that if you don’t have an identity to protect, then change becomes much easier.
  • For any change to happen in your life, you must accept that you were wrong about something you were doing before.

Do Something Principle

  • Action is not just the affect of motivation. It is also the cause of it.
  • Just start doing something (action) can give you the motivation to do more it.
  • Don’t wait for motivation to come and then start the work. Start first and motivation will follow.
  • It also helps us overcome procrastination.
  • When the idea of success is just doing, failure doesn’t seem that big.
  • How do you write a tons of books? Write “200 crappy words per day” and you’ll find motivation often flows out of you.
  • Its mostly like Inspiration > Motivation > Action . It should be Action > Inspiration > Motivation
  • Rejection
  • To value something we must reject something.
  • To value X, you must reject Y.
  • We are defined by what we choose to reject.
  • If we don’t reject anything as a fear of being rejected ourselves, we don’t have an identity at all.
  • Rejection is an important life skill.
  • Reject a toxic relationship. Reject a job which you don’t like.
  • Rejection of alternatives liberates us. In a strange way, commitment to one thing offers more freedom than anything else because it relieves you of all the second guessing about what else is out there.


  • There is freedom and liberation in commitment.
  • Commitment doesn’t put constraints on you. It gives you freedom.
  • It give you freedom because it makes you focus on one important thing than a lot of unimportant ones.
  • Commitment makes decision making easy and removes FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  • Depth over length in your work.

Result vs Process

  • You can’t merely be in love with the result. Everybody loves the result. You have to love the process.
  • The climb to the top is a never-ending upward spiral with new problems always surfacing and new processes that you must fall in love with. You are never allowed to stop climbing because the entire point is to love the climb. If you ever stop loving the climb, the results will never come.
  • Goals are limited in the amount of happiness they can provide in our lives because they are finite. Once you achieve the goal, it can no longer provide happiness because the finish line has been crossed. Paradoxically, then, by choosing processes as your focus, you can increase your overall, lifelong happiness by focusing on the process and not the goal. Processes never end, which means happiness can continue indefinitely.


  • The more you try to become certain about a particular issue, the more uncertain and insecure you will feel.
  • The more you embrace being uncertain and not knowing, the more comfortable you will feel in knowing what you don’t know.
  • The man who believes he knows everything learns nothing.

Do! Because You Are Going To Die Anyway

  • If there is no reason to do anything, if life is pointless, then there is also no reason to not do anything. What do you have to lose? You’re going to die anyway, so your fears and embarrassments and failures don’t mean anything. You might as well try.
  • “We’re all going to die, all of us. What a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn’t.” -Charles Bukowsk