The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

These notes aren't yet written. I may be writing them right now, or I might have decided this book either isn't worth taking notes for or isn't right for it.

There’s a lot to like in this book.

The essential points are:

  • Choose what you care about (and dgaf about whatever that will cost you).
  • "the desire for more positive experiences is itself a negative experience, and paradoxically, the acceptance of one's negative experience is itself a positive experience."
  • You’re not special.
  • Entitlement is bad and comes from the belief that you're unique (either in a good way or that you've suffered uniquely).
  • Suffering is meaningful when it’s for the sake of something meaningful.
  • Don’t waste your time valuing or worrying about things that are outside of your control.
  • Paradoxically, saying no (and commitment) is freeing.
  • "Good values are: 1) reality-based, 2) socially constructive, and 3) immediate and controllable. Bad values are 1) superstitious, 2) socially destructive, and 3) not immediate or controllable."
  • You should be intellectually humble, because admitting you're wrong is the only way to grow and we can't be certain about anything anyway.
  • Failure leads to success.
  • Take responsibility for your life.
  • Memento mori.

But I'm not sure that I would have found his arguments for those points convincing if I didn't already believe them. There’s not much that’s novel in the book and even at only 46,000 words, it felt fluffed up. The good news is it’s a breeze to get through and will only take a couple hours to read.

I can imagine this book being helpful for someone who hasn’t truly recognized the concepts listed above, but I don't think it actually gives a solid foundation, emotionally or logically, for sustaining the beliefs and philosophies offered.

The book also has a current of agnosticism (he's absolutely certain you can't know anything for certain -__-) and belief that desire is the cause of unhappiness. I disagree with him on those points.

Brian Dawson
@btsdawson