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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counter Intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Disclaimer: Based on the title of this book, it won't surprise you that this post contains a lot of foul language. Like a LOT. If you are offended by that, you should probably skip this post. Yes Mom, that most likely means you.

Mark Manson, the author if this here The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, had a widely shared article recently that you most likely read. It was a lead up to this sucker, of which I have been highly recommending to just about everyone I know since reading it cover to cover on the lane home from BEA. Now it's my turn to try to peddle it to you, dear reader. That is, if you made it past the disclaimer.

We aren't meant to be happy all of the time. That's right. You read that correctly. Read it again: We aren't meant to be happy all of the time. However, we are constantly bombarded with ideas that we are supposed to medicate and talk our way out of bad days, bad weeks, bad years. Instead, sometimes things are just supposed to be shifty. We have to get through the bad to enjoy the good. Most things worth having in life are worth wading through the muck for. My PhD for example, or my relationship with the World's Greatest Boyfriend (WGB). (I really do have that boyfriend. More on that soon.) Life isn't supposed to be a bag of roses and Cadbury eggs. We are supposed to LIVE IT, and that means we take the shitty with the amazing.

One thing that Manson talks about early on is how we don't want to put the work into relationships anymore for the longtime payoff. Relationships take work, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just lying (and wanting you to think their life is perfect -- that's another discussion). This hit home, because this was a point of conversation with my best friend and me as if late. Suffering in a relationship -- manipulation, emotional abuse, control -- is NOT GOOD. But work and hard stuff -- now THAT is what gives you the payoff. WGB and I went through this. (Another disclaimer: This is my side if the story. While I know he agrees with me, his side is his to tell.) WGB and I have been friends for more than a decade, good friends for more a year, we spent the entire last fall pretending we weren't dating. Then in the spring I basically told him to out up or shut up, and we came to a bit of a standstill. He had to choose a direction, and it was a bit iffy there for a few days. To his credit, he made up his mind pretty quickly, but I wasn't ready to hear the verdict. The three days between putting my foot down and deciding it give this a go were three of the saddest, worrisome, and hardest of my life. I was heartbroken. Nothing scared me more than losing him, but I knew that if I didn't risk it, I wouldn't get the reward, which was him loving me back. (And dear readers, it's the greatest reward on the face of the planet, even though he drives me absolutely nuts sometimes.)

I loved this man, long before we ever said that to each other, but I knew that if we didn't do the work, and we didn't go through this, then what was lying on the other side just wouldn't matter. The story obviously has a happy ending -- but we work on it constantly. We talk about feelings and hopes and dreams and order tacos and watch Star Wars and talk some more. We are willing to put in the work for the longneck payoff go being a unit. I'm do thankful everyday for this man who wants to work as hard as I do at this.

In the fourth chapter, Manson talks in detail about suffering, and specifically about the difference in suffering for good values and suffering for bad values. Bad values are those that are based on things out of your control: fame, money, popularity, pleasure. These values are so dependent on other people and other factors outside of your control. He specifically tells the story of Pete Best, kicked out of the Beatles and replaces by Ringo Star right before they recorded their first album,  later in life, Best gave an interview and said it was for the best (pun unintended) -- he was much happier than he would have been in the band. He reoriented his values, and he was happier in the long run for it. This was something I got.

I have failed a lot in life -- all of us have, and what we have chosen to do with that failure is what counts. I have been laid off twice (really, it was because it's damned hard to fire someone in this state), and I left the theatre after the second one because I just didn't give the amount of fucks that I should have for continuing to work in the field. I changed my priorities -- I changed what I gave a fuck about. And I'm certainly happier for it in my own long-run.

Basically what I saying is that this book is psychologist approved. {Wink, wink.}

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