He challenges in this book, as in his articles, many self-help notions that have made self-help counterproductive.
It’s a book that is based on values, and this is what I like about it. Values control the way we think and act. And it all comes down to choosing the right values and weeding out the shitty ones.
The whole idea of not giving a fuck is about choosing what to value and what not to value (hint: what to not give a fuck about). The freedom of choosing your values comes with the consequences of being responsible for your actions and being vulnerable to pain and discomfort as a price for growing and learning.
The main idea I got was about the values. But the way Mark illustrates the effect of the values in all the areas of your life is amazing. So, don’t worry. The book covers a wide range of topics and not just essays about values. That along with personal stories and other nice stories.
Emotions (especially the negative ones). Relationships. Resilience and some stoicism. Rejections (not only when you get rejected but also that you have to reject something –again, choosing values.) And he even talked about death.
Here are some important lessons I’ve learned from The Subtle Art:
- Values are more important than the tips and the tricks. They are the key in self-development. You have to be aware of what you value and choose what to value.
- Some of the problems in your life are not your fault. They could be your parents’ fault. They could be your society’s fault or your friend’s. But still, it’s your responsibility to solve them. It’s always your responsibility because it’s your life and you are the one who gets to live with the consequences.
- Don’t be entitled to feeling good all the time. It’s unrealistic. It’s narcissism. Entitlement can include wanting to feel good and not wanting to upset anyone and keep everything smooth. Get used to feeling like shit sometimes, it is life and you will feel bad sometimes. It’s not a bad thing.
- Wanting a positive experience is, in and of itself, a negative experience. And, paradoxically, accepting a negative experience is a positive experience. Not all the time, though. Don’t take it to the extreme and become a miserable fellow who tries to accept the fact that his life sucks and he should be happy about it. It’s to remind you that life can suck sometimes and the constant pursuit of positivity and comfort is counter-productive.
I disagree with Mark on some of his ideas about death.
Death can be the ultimate motivator. It can be a strong driving force that makes us do great things before we reach it (or before it reaches us).
But, to me, you can’t talk about death unless you also talk about life after death. I don’t know if Marks believes in that or not. But it’s what I believe in.
Other than that, and other than some ideas that will not be new to you if you are familiar with Mark’s work, the book is fucking great. It’s one of the books I’ve really, really enjoyed. And it’s one of the few books that I always recommend to my friends or mention to them something I’ve read in it.
Article inspired by this book:
- In terms of values, I’ve written an article that covered a topic based on the concept of values: Do You Need A Reason To Appreciate Yourself?
Or you can check the entire Reading List