Warning: Adult language ahead.
“Giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health.” ~ Mark Manson’s truth bomb, delivered via The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
Fact: As Mark Manson said, “Most of us struggle all our lives by giving too many fucks where fucks do not deserve to be given.”
Indeed, between life and death, there are only limited fucks to be given—unlimited fucks means we will be perpetually enslaved to whomever’s emotional garbage comes our way—and that is a truly exhausting way to live.
As a woman, we are conditioned to give even more fucks than most—and we have to look pretty doing it. Just as how we must choose our battles in life, we must also choose carefully to reserve our fucks for what truly matters, for the quality of our life will depend on how carefully we choose and manage the fucks we give.
When we give too many fucks, we flounder in the cacophony and uninvited noise that invades our world. When we give too many fucks, we live in pretense—because a world of yes is actually inherently incoherent with our values. A fake yes is more emotionally costly than an actual no. In a world full of yes, not only are we avoiding responsibility for our own emotions, we are taking on responsibility for other people’s problems.
It bears repeating—we are the only ones responsible for our own lives, and we are the only ones responsible for our feelings. Rejection might hurt feelings, but rejection is a crucial life skill. In a world full of yes, no has become a dirty word. Yet, it’s the one word we must say to reclaim our lives.
In a world of yes, a fake yes serves only to extend the status quo, to continue within the lines, to not rock the boat. A fake yes serves only to appease the comfort zones of someone we fear a no might upset. When really, it’s the moments of “non-fuckery” that are the moments that ultimately transform our lives. These are the moments of release, of letting go, of not needing to know, of detachment, of establishing boundaries…of unadulterated self security.
To give less fucks is an active pursuit of less—focusing on the essential and exceptional few versus the trivial many. By giving less fucks, we gain space— a necessary luxury and condition for happiness. If the world we live in is a world where we cannot hear nor say no, then it is a world lacking security and trust. And we wonder why we are not happy. We are the only ones holding us back.
So, the path not taken here is paved with the fucks not given, and that has made all the difference, because with the fucks not given, we draw a line in the sand that shows our commitment to what we truly prioritize.
Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent. It means that we are comfortable as we are, and we are in control of our lives, living according to our priorities instead of being enslaved by the constant distractions that demand our attention. What’s loudest isn’t necessarily the most important or worthy of our attention. On the contrary, what’s most important is often communicated to us as a silent gut instinct, or a whisper from our heart, both expressions we automatically dismiss when we start to give too many fucks.
When we give too many fucks over things and people that aren’t worth it, we neglect the ones who do. Basic mathematics.
In a shallow society, it takes a deep level of self-awareness to accept negative feelings as they are. Constant happiness is impossible to achieve. Too often, we deny the existence of the negative feelings, gloss over them, and thereby let them live longer in silence. As these negative feelings fester, we lose control of our lives. And as they fester, they become something larger, uglier, darker, and more manipulative. Then that becomes our lives—the unspoken ugliness. And we wonder why happiness is unattainable, and we read books on where to find joy.
There’s nothing wrong with therapy in self-help aisles. But if we are looking for happiness, we are looking in the wrong place. Profound happiness doesn’t come from external sources. It comes from unadulterated expressions that align with our core values and priorities. Unadulterated meaning the ability to express and vocalize no’s. Notably, the life changing skill of not giving a fuck.
However, honest self-questioning is not common practice; today’s a good day to start.
Our values and priorities determine the sets of problems we have in our lives. The nature of our problems determine the quality of our lives. When we stop giving fucks, we will feel disoriented. We will have confronted our beliefs and the expectations of others. Being disoriented means there is room for growth, and growth is an iterative process.
In today’s world, we are encouraged to give a fuck, and we do so to forge meaning in life. Yet, giving fucks indiscriminately makes things worse, instead of solving problems.
Giving fucks indiscriminately is living mindfully done wrong.
Giving compelling fucks to compelling things and people leads to an upgrade of our values and systems, and vice versa. As Manson says, “When you give better fucks, you get better problems, and you get a better life.”
How we choose to give fucks determines whether we feel empowered or victimized. So always be choosing, and always choose carefully, for the fucks we give reflect deep truths about us, and the fucks not given will liberate us and ultimately, lead us to profound happiness.
Author: Xiren Wang
Image: “Sound of Music”
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Rammazina
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman