My friend Jerry owns a historic bar in the Uptown section of New Orleans, and occasionally, I’ll stop by during off hours to see him.
Jerry is around 60 years old, with a pudgy build, a kind face, and a long, silvery ponytail. More often than not, I’ll find Jerry in his office, accessible only by a rickety, wooden staircase that could very well collapse at any moment.
The office is small, and usually a mess, with invoices, books, and bar paraphernalia strewn about chaotically. Jerry sits behind a makeshift desk, adorned with a nameplate that reads: Mr. Head Honcho. He shares the office with his dog, Biscuit, an excitable Boston Terrier who spends most of the time on a pee pad, furiously licking his own balls.
Whenever I visit Jerry, I like to prepare an exit strategy, knowing I could be there for hours, while he fills my head with stories that can range from wildly amusing to maddeningly stupid. But, every once in a while, he’ll offer a nugget of wisdom—so wise, in fact, that it could only come from an aging man who has been through radically challenging times.
I was hoping for one such nugget when, during a particular exchange, I decided to tell Jerry about my broken heart, in spectacularly honest fashion.
I told Jerry that I was dating a woman for the better part of a year, and that I cared for her deeply. I told him that she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen—that she has caramel-colored skin, a flawless figure, and a devastating smile. I told him that she is smart and funny and successful, and that when I met her, I couldn’t believe my luck.
I told him about her words—that she said I held a special place in her heart, that she wanted me in her life, that she wanted to make more time for us, and that she never wanted to lose me. I told him that her actions never seemed to match those words.
I told Jerry that she withheld sex, that she refused to integrate me into her life, that she could be needlessly scornful and cold. I told him that she would pull me in and then push me away and then pull me in again, causing me a tremendous amount of anxiety and confusion. I told him that I constantly found myself apologizing, though I was never completely sure why.
I told him that she had permeated every part of my psyche, that she was all I could think about, from morning until night. I told him that when I finally expressed my discontent, she threw me away like garbage, without remorse and by way of a text message. I told him about the text message—how it was so brutally unkind that it rattled me to my core. I told him that I’ve never been treated this poorly by another human being.
I told Jerry that the whole thing was sad and embarrassing, and sent me down a path of self-exploration. I told him that I repeatedly fall for the wrong women, try desperately to make it work, and then end up with a shattered heart. I told him that I started doing research and consulting a new therapist to figure out what the hell might be wrong with me.
I told Jerry everything.
To which he responded: “Well…sometimes you just need to say, ‘F*ck you.’”
“That’s all you’ve got?” I asked, with great disappointment. “For a guy who never shuts the f*ck up, you sure don’t have a lot to say on this matter.”
“That’s all I’ve got,” he confirmed. “And, f*ck you if you don’t like it. Maybe you should go home and think about it.”
So that’s what I did.
I went home and thought about it, suppressing the urge to call Jerry so I could tell him to go f*ck himself. And Biscuit. But, knowing Jerry, there had to be a deeper meaning behind his vexingly terse response.
I contemplated it further, framing it in a way that made sense to me. I turned it into an affirmation, letting it penetrate my subconscious. I put it into practice, in the areas where I needed to most. Then, I applied it to every aspect of my life. Then, I embodied it. And, while I haven’t quite mastered it yet, I’ll be damned if it didn’t turn out to be the most brilliant piece of advice I’ve ever received.
The F*ck You Way:
Let it be known that I have studied the tenets of Stoicism, set forth by Zeno of Citium, Seneca, and Epictetus. I have immersed myself in the teachings of Buddha: the noble truths, the eightfold path and the five precepts. I’ve explored Confucianism, Taoism, and the universal flow of Chi. But nothing has awakened my spirit more than the wonderfully simple, life-changing philosophy of F*ck You.
I know what you might be thinking—that you’re already one step ahead of me, that you already say the words “f*ck you,” and that you’ve been saying them every day since you were in the seventh grade. You scream these words in your car, cursing the careless jacka*s who cut you off on the freeway. You mutter them in the supermarket, as the woman in front of you fumbles around in her change purse. You shout them at your television when your beloved sports team f*cks itself out of a win. Thank god for “f*ck you.” How else are you supposed to blow off steam?
Just for a moment, though, consider F*ck You in a wholly different light, and not as the two little words that help you deal with society’s most trivial nuisances.
More specifically, consider this:
F*ck You is:
A mindset. It knows no gender, no race, no class, no creed.
Knowing that the world is a place of abundance.
The belief that you can create the life you deserve.
The unbreakable promise to yourself that, until the day you die, you will stand up for your values, make your own needs a priority, and never let anyone treat you like you are beneath them.
Embrace the F*ck You way, and magical things will happen.
You’ll develop strong personal boundaries.
The world can be a cruel and unpredictable place, mostly because it’s filled with other people. This is an unfortunate truth that we all must acknowledge. Because, while people are generally good, there will always be those who try to use and abuse you, with complete disregard for the sanctity of your well-being. This is why you need strong personal boundaries. And, when you abide by the guiding principles of F*ck You, you’ll develop your boundaries naturally, becoming an even better, more resilient, more confident version of you.
Boundaries are vital to ensuring that all of your relationships are mutually respectful. They set limits for the behavior of those around you. And, they’re a defining hallmark of high self-esteem.
The old saying is true: People will only treat you one way—the way you allow them. Embrace this way, and your boundaries will never be compromised.
You’ll rid your life of toxic people.
When I think of the people who have made my life hell, I cringe with shame and indignity. It’s a pathetically long list, filled from top to bottom with the names of liars, cheaters, manipulators, and just plain dickheads. A particular woman comes to mind. So does an old college roommate. As does a former boss—a racist, sexist, belligerent imbecile who stole money from clients and bugged the entire building so he could watch and listen to us at all times.
Each day for nearly a year, I walked into that office with a pit in my stomach and a breach in my soul. I’d yearn for a job offer to fall from the sky, for a winning lotto ticket, or for my boss to get hit by a speeding city bus. And, when the clock struck five, I’d walk out with dread, knowing I’d have to come back tomorrow. It’s a year of my life that I wish I had back, all because I couldn’t muster up the nerve to say, “F*ck you,” and take matters into my own hands.
If you have a boss like I had, now is the time to say those words, vacate the premises, and never look back. Believe in yourself. There’s a better opportunity just around the corner.
If one of your friends is the turd in your punch bowl, constantly mocking your dreams and desires—it’s time to say, “F*ck you,” and continue wholeheartedly down your chosen path. When you do, you’ll find mentors and new friends at every turn.
If the person you’re dating brings you more pain than joy, for the love of god, just say it before things get worse. Protect your heart, and find someone who truly appreciates you. There are millions of sexy motherf*ckers just waiting for you to say “Hi.”
Toxic people should have no place in your life. Over time, they will steal your energy, dampen your spirit, and drag you down into the deep, dark, sh*t-laden holes that they live in. Don’t let this happen. And, don’t wait for them to change. Embrace the F*ck You way, and you’ll effortlessly attract only positive, supportive, and like-minded people.
You’ll be happier.
Saying “F*ck you” is not always easy, especially if it leads to the unknown. You may have to overcome obstacles, take a few chances, and reshape your identity. But, this is where you’ll find beauty. So, give a hearty “F*ck you” to your fears and excuses, and propel yourself forward, knowing that you—and you alone—are in charge of your life.
After all, it is typically our inability or unwillingness to say it that keeps us in bad jobs, bad relationships, and bad situations.
It’s a funny thing with us humans. We spend our lives trying desperately to find happiness, and yet, we don’t even know what it is. We can’t explain, describe, or define it; we just know that we want it because it’ll make everything peachy. Time and time again, though, studies have shown that our never-ending quest for happiness is quite often the very thing that f*cks us.
So, instead of trying to find happiness, maybe you could just take a look around, and say “F*ck you” to the people, places, and things that are making you miserable. Trying to find happiness is a futile effort. Embrace the Fuck You way, and happiness may very well find you.
Now, go forth, beautiful people.
Many of our greatest leaders have spoken profoundly on the subjects of happiness, dignity, and self-respect.
Tony Robbins said, “You get what you tolerate.”
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Malala Yousafzai said, “There’s a moment when you have to choose to be silent or to stand up.”
And, Ghandi said, “They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”
Remember these things as you go forth in love and in life. But, also remember what Jerry the bar owner said: “Sometimes you just need to say ‘F*ck you.’”
Author: Tony Endelman
Image: Patrick Humphries/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson