Adrian Stobbe

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Mark Manson

6 minutes (1447 words)
Table of contents

🔗 Link : Goodreads

⭐️ Rating: 9/10

Additional source: Sivers book notes

🔗🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Don’t crave for pleasures and an “all-is-perfect” life. Face reality and do your best. The good stuff will come as a by-product.
  2. Closely inspect your values. Most roots of failure lie there. Find values that pose better problems
  3. Don’t avoid problems, just find the ones you care about. Working on problems gives meaning and leads to happiness.

🔗How I Discovered It

Sivers book list

🔗Who Should Read It?

It’s a self-help book, so those that like to ask themselves questions

🔗☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

I want to define myself simple and modest. According to Manson’s law we avoid what threatens our identity, so I want to hold as few as possible and keep a low expectation of myself. My identity is fluid and I can change to become who I want to be, regardless of my past me.

🔗My wrong values

The book made me question the root of my failures. I’ve been wanting to establish a writing habit and yet I often procrastinate. I believe that it’s related to my high expectations that I fear to fall behind. It’s a wrong value, because it inhibits me from becoming a good writer. A better value is to see myself as an amateur who just wants to get better. A bad draft is something that can be improved upon! Nothing will remain nothing.

I sometimes defer programming because the task seems overwhelming and fear to feel uncomfortable about my skills. Honestly, I’ve made big progress and when problems are properly broken up, I get to solve almost all of them. As a better value, I want to embrace difficulty and discovering my weaknesses because that’s how to learn. If it were easy, I wouldn’t be learning!

I still catch myself often backing down to talk to strangers on the street, particularly girls. I found that it’s related to a social norm I formed while growing up in Germany. The norm is that it’s not proper in public space, only desperate guys do so with inappropriate pick-up lines. And of course I am too noble to do that! That’s so wrong because I’ve seen for myself how well received it can be. In reality, I’m just making up stupid excuses for my cowardness.

🔗📒 Summary + Notes

Find what you want to give a fuck about, otherwise you will devote it to trivia.

Pleasure is the most artificial joy. Don’t seek it; it’s a by-product of good values.

Self improvement is about finding better values, choosing what to give a fuck about. With better fucks, come better problems, and with them you get a better life.

🔗No pain, no gain

We suffer to learn; to improve our actions. Instead of trying to avoid problems, find the problems you are happy to solve.

Giving a fuck just means being willing to eat shit for what is important to you. It’s not about being indifferent about everything.

Define your goals through the process and not by the outcome. Often we want things for their outcome, not for the process. Everyone wants to have nice relationships and have a trained body, but who enjoys to suffer for it? When we get to actually work towards the outcome, we see if we really want it.

Raising a child, will feel better than playing video games (=pleasure). Founding a company with friends is arduous, but looking back you will feel much more fullfiled than going to a bar every night.

When embracing a new value, accept that it will be painful. It will seem difficult. Accept that you never know what you are doing, until you do it. Just do it.

The desire to avoid rejection at all costs, to avoid confrontation and conflict, is a deep valueless, pleasure-driven, and self-absorbed life.

🔗Be humble

Media devotes it’s attention to the extremes of the bell curve which distorts our perception of the norm. We seek to become extraordinary, failing to accept that we will most likely be average on most things.

People who are extraordinary believe they are mediocre which drives them to improve.

Don’t seek the extreme but focus on the average experiences. These make up your life and matter the most.

🔗Negative emotions

If you feel crappy it’s because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved.

Bad feelings mostly stem from values. Ask why you value this, and if the metric is accurate.

Define yourself through how you deal with negative happenings. You can’t always prevent the event, but you are always responsible for the reaction!

Negative emotions are a biological signal to change. Positive emotions reward actions. Question if these tendencies are aligned with your values.

People overidentify with their emotions. “I was really mad; I couldn’t help it.”

🔗Being always positive can be negative

Wanting positive experience is a negative experience; accepting negative experience is a positive experience.

A positive attitude doesn’t make you good. It’s possible to blow smoke and don’t achieve anything (bullshiters).

It’s wrong to always feel positive about whatever happens. It makes you dodge the problems, but overcoming problems is what gives your life meaning. A life without pain is not worthy and won’t make you happy. No pain, no gain!


Mansons law: the more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.

Set low standards and beliefs of you. You are not special. This is the first step to get over the fear of failing to live up to your identity.

Having a loose (fluid) identity makes you less afraid to lose your identity.


  1. layer: Perceive your emotions
  2. layer: Understand why we feel certain emotions? : Why do you feel angry? Is it because you failed to achieve some goal? Why do you feel lethargic and uninspired? Is it because you don’t think you’re good enough?
  3. layer: Define personal values. Why do I consider this to be success/failure? How am I choosing to measure myself? By what standard am I judging myself and everyone around me?


The 5 golden values:

  1. Take responsibility
  2. Accept uncertainty, acknowledge ignorance, doubt your beliefs.
  3. Discover your flaws and learn from failures
  4. Give and take rejections. Say no to what you don’t want in your life and accept to hear a no.
  5. Contemplate your own mortality

Good (internal) values are honesty, stand up for oneself and others, modesty, curiosity, charity.

Be open to change your values to find new happiness.

Does changing your values pose a better problem? E.g.: Continue to reject the husband of the sister and cause trouble, vs respect her decision and acknowledge own insecurity to accept her marriage.

Seeing where your values are wrong, brings you closer to a problem’s solution.

When embracing a new value, accept that it will be painful. It will seem difficult. Accept that you never know what you are doing, until you do it. Just do it. Be it talking to girls, deciding to drop a major you hate..

Defining values means rejecting other options.

Be honest and straight to say no to things that conflict with your values or priorities. It’s helpful for your relationships in that it fosters trust.


In a healthy relationship, each takes responsibility for their own problems. Acts of love are unconditional without any kind of guilt involved. Ask yourself, “If I refused, how would the relationship change?”

Their love is based on mutual respect and acknowledging the others weaknesses and supporting them to solve their struggles.

Healthy lovers don’t get upset about an argument or action, because they don’t expect their partner to solve their problems.

If someone cheats in a relationship, it’s because they give higher value to something like: power of others, validation through sex, giving into impulses.


Explore the world and experience in breadth when young. Then settle for a choice and reject the other options. We feel happier once settling for one option, because we don’t worry about the other options anymore. Also it allows us to have deeper experiences. Knowing a partner for a decade, mastering a craftsmanship..

We are defined by what we choose to reject.

When stuck on a problem, don’t think too much about it; just start working on it. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing, but acting will make you eventually discover the right ideas.