Knowing when to give a f*ck

Using the “f” word was a criminal offense punishable in the most severe way in my childhood home. One of my favorite scenes from A Christmas story was when Ralphie utters the f*ck word. It echoes my experiences as a Midwest baby boomer. Childish insults might include obscenities but never the “f” word.

Times have changed. F*ck has become mainstream, most likely because of its use in pop culture and by celebrities. It is not seen as forbidden by younger generations. Some stigma remains but is peeling away.

I received The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck this past Christmas. It enjoyed some time at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. The subtitle summarizes the book in a less in your face way, “a counterintuitive approach to living a good life”.  Self-help is usually approached by reach for stars and everything will be good in life. Not so with this book.

Life is about not giving a f*ck about a lot of things, but you need to give a f*ck about something.

Mark Manson, the author, challenges us to not give an f*ck about trivial things and things we cannot change but instead give an f*ck about the things we control and can change. These are the lessons I learned from the book.

Entitlement

We live in a world of entitlement. Being entitled means that you deserve this because either you were denied something or you excel in something. This is not new to society. People have always felt entitled to speak opinions. Social media makes it more visible. An off the cuff comment is broadcasted to a wide audience with a click of the mouse. It can quickly become a hotbed of discussion.

How should we deal with entitlement? Think before you act. Admit you might be wrong. Recognize that there are many opinions out there. Voice your opinion knowing that you do not have the right to change anyone else’s life. Entitlement is thinking you can change others’ actions, opinions, and life.

Responsibility

Being a responsible person means that you bear the responsibility for your actions. It’s easy to throw something out there. Responsibility is often missing in action when we are caught up in entitlement. A prime example is labeling liberals of being snowflakes or conservatives as being bigots. What responsibility do you bear when you make an entitled statement?  

How can we be more responsible? Stop and think before you speak or click the mouse. Know the consequences of making assumptions. You might feel good but others will not feel the same. Others’ opinion of you may change in not a good way. Think about the consequences of what you say when speaking with others, particularly in politics, religion, sex, and race.

Failing

Failings in life are the most valuable lessons you can have. I can relate to this subject. I have failed in a variety of ways. Overcoming these failures taught me more about life than any self-help book. Overcoming adversity is rewarding and life-changing.

Humans avoid things that can make us fail. We concentrate on the simple things that are easier attained. We should look at the harder things where we are weakest at and how to turn them into successes. In other words, tackle the root of your failings to realize more positive change.

“Wrong about everything law of uncertainty – the more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck

Death

And then you die… The book takes an interesting angle in the final chapter. It speaks to our mortality. There are two selves in our life. Our physical self is what are today and have been in the past. Think about this as how we live our life. Ask yourself, “Can I be a better physical self if am a less entitled person, a person who bears more responsibility, and the person who tackles my failings head-on?”

Our conceptual self is our life that lives on after our physical self is gone. This is the legacy that we leave behind. It is about what people remember about us. It is the imprint that our life left in this world after we are gone. It’s true for everybody not just the Rembrandts, Einsteins, or Bill Gates. If you live a good physical life, your conceptual self will live on.

Giving a f*ck

This book challenged me. My opinion of the book changed as a delved deeper into the chapters. I initially saw it as setting expectations lower and not reaching for the stars. By the end of the book, I saw that the message was to take control of your life by concentrating on things that are difficult but need to be addressed. It is about giving a f*ck about the right things and not the wrong things.

I urge you to give a f*ck about things in your life that make you a better and happier person. I urge you, even more, to not give an f*ck about the trivial and divisive things that do the opposite.


“Babies” by Czech artist David Černý in Prague
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1 Comment

  1. Clay Morris March 15, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Another interesting article. Good job Tom

    Reply

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