Do you feel paralyzed, unproductive, stupefied at what it is you’re trying to do or actually doing, overwhelmed by insignificant obligations, overwhelmed by the fragility of our world and our inability to do anything to change what’s so messed up?
Well, you, too, can read the first chapter of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson. Better yet, allow me to summarize.
Disclaimer: I’ve only read the first chapter because I believe wholeheartedly the value of the words and I highly doubt there’s anything F-worthy in the rest of the book.
I put off reading this book—one of the three self help-themed books gifted to me this year; don’t worry, I’m not that offended—because I thought it looked cheeky, self-indulgent and un-literary. Boy, I was wrong. Some key points follow.
“Here’s a sneaky truth about life. There’s no such thing as not giving a fuck. You must give a fuck about something…The question, then, is, What do we give a fuck about? What are we choosing to give a fuck about? And how can we not give a fuck about what ultimately does not matter?”
Not giving a fuck about adversity, failure, or embarrassing yourself in order to do what you believe is important—to give a fuck—is key. Say “Fuck it” to everything unimportant in life, and reserve fucks for what truly matters. Friends. Family. Causes. Purpose. Goals.
“If you find yourself consistently giving too many fucks about trivial shit that bothers you—your ex-boyfriend’s new Facebook picture, missing another two-for-one sale on hand sanitizer—chances are you don’t have much going on in your life to give a legitimate fuck about. And that’s your real problem. Not the hand sanitizer.”
“Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuck-worthy.”
So what do I give a fuck about? Making the world a better place. How the fuck can I help contribute to the mitigation of climate change?
I’ve decided for one, I’m going to give fewer fucks about how I feel every minute second of the day related to running and training. Spending less time worrying about what I could be doing or what I should be doing training-wise and spending more time brushing up on the state of our coral reefs, of my state’s public land issues, and better educating myself on the things I proclaim to care about is number one. Running is too simple to give too many fucks about. I want to stay motivated to run and explore by foot and that means caring less about the psycho-element to running.
Two, accepting that everything, more or less, sucks. In Buddhism, this is referred to as “samsara”—the never beginning or ending cycle of birth, mundane existence, and death, with nothing too awesome in between. I’m going to remember that we live in an icky and beautiful and horrific samsara. Any positivity of life then becomes a jackpot of joy.
These thoughts have come at a fortuitous time, as I head to the woods for a weekend meditation retreat. It was in college when I felt similarly overwhelmed, paralyzed, and confused about what I should be doing that I discovered a Buddhist meditation group. It chilled me out big-time. Gave me purpose. Encouraged me to move to Thailand three days after graduating. Needless to say, the effects of those 30-minute afternoon sessions and silent retreats are still flowing through my veins. This weekend, I similarly look forward to honing in on what I should give a fuck about.
Cheers to our mad, mad, mad world.