Mark Manson

American author and blogger

Mark Manson (born 9 March 1984) is an American self-help author, blogger and entrepreneur.

Manson signing his book at BookCon 2019


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. New York: HarperOne. 2016. ISBN 9780062457714. 
  • The world is constantly telling you that the path to a better life is more, more, more—buy more, own more, make more, fuck more, be more. You are constantly bombarded with messages to give a fuck about everything, all the time...
    Why? My guess: because giving a fuck about more stuff is good for business.
    And while there’s nothing wrong with good business, the problem is that giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health. It causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction. The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.
    • Chapter 1, “Don’t Try” (p. 5; ellipsis represents the elision of a list of examples)
  • The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.
    • Chapter 1, “Don’t Try” (p. 9)
  • Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.
    • Chapter 1, “Don’t Try” (p. 11)
  • If you find yourself consistently giving too many fucks about trivial shit that bothers you—your ex-boyfriend’s new Facebook picture, how quickly the batteries die in the TV remote, missing out on yet 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. Not the TV remote.
    I once heard an artist say that when a person has no problems, the mind automatically finds a way to invent some. I think what most people—especially educated, pampered middle-class white people—consider “life problems” are really just side effects of not having anything more important to worry about.
    • Chapter 1, “Don’t Try” (p. 18)
  • “Don’t hope for a life without problems,” the [Disappointment Panda] said. “There’s no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems.”
    • Chapter 2, “Happiness Is a Problem” (p. 30)
  • Decision-making based on emotional intuition, without the aid of reason to keep it in line, pretty much always sucks. You know who bases their entire lives on their emotions? Three-year-old kids. And dogs. You know what else three-year-olds and dogs do? Shit on the carpet.
    • Chapter 2, “Happiness Is a Problem” (p. 35)
  • I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love with not the fight but only the victory.
    And life doesn’t work that way.
    Who you are is defined by what you're willing to struggle for. […] Our struggles determine our successes.
    • Chapter 2, “Happiness Is a Problem” (p. 40)
  • To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate shit-tons of time and energy to it. […] The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so […] because they're obsessed with improvement.
    • Chapter 3, “You Are Not Special” (p. 57, 61)
  • Technology has solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological problems.
    • Chapter 3, “You Are Not Special” (p. 60)
  • A lot of people are afraid to accept mediocrity because they believe that if they accept it, they’ll never achieve anything, never improve, and that their life won’t matter.
    This sort of thinking is dangerous. Once you accept the premise that a life is worthwhile only if it is truly notable and great, then you basically accept the fact that most of the human population (including yourself) sucks and is worthless. And this mindset can quickly turn dangerous, to both yourself and others.
    • Chapter 3, “You Are Not Special” (p. 61)
  • We’re apes. We think we’re all sophisticated with our toaster ovens and designer footwear, but we’re just a bunch of finely ornamented apes. And because we are apes, we instinctually measure ourselves against others and vie for status. The question is not whether we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is by what standard do we measure ourselves?
    • Chapter 4, “The Value of Suffering” (pp. 77-78)
  • Pleasure is not the cause of happiness; rather, it is the effect.
    • Chapter 4, “The Value of Suffering” (p. 82)
  • The fact is, people who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes. They lack the ability to take on new perspectives and empathize with others. They close themselves off to new and important information.
    It’s far more helpful to assume that you’re ignorant and don’t know a whole lot. This keeps you unattached to superstitious or poorly informed beliefs and promotes a constant state of learning and growth.
    • Chapter 4, “The Value of Suffering” (p. 83)
  • 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 and controllable.
    • Chapter 4, “The Value of Suffering” (p. 86)
  • This, in a nutshell, is what “self-improvement” is really about: prioritizing better values, choosing better things to give a fuck about. Because when you give better fucks, you get better problems. And when you get better problems, you get a better life.
    • Chapter 4, “The Value of Suffering” (p. 89)
  • A lot of people hesitate to take responsibility for their problems because they believe that to be responsible for your problems is to also be at fault for your problems.
    • Chapter 5, “You Are Always Choosing” (p. 97)
  • You are already choosing, in every moment of every day, what to give a fuck about, so change is as simple as choosing to give a fuck about something else.
    It really is that simple. It’s just isn’t easy.
    • Chapter 5, “You Are Always Choosing” (p. 113)
  • Growth is an endlessly iterative process. When we learn something new, we don’t go from “wrong” to “right.” Rather, we go from wrong to slightly less wrong. And when we learn something additional, we go from slightly less wrong to slightly less wrong than that, and then to even less wrong than that, and so on. We are always in the process of approaching truth and perfection without actually ever reaching truth and perfection.
    We shouldn’t seek to find the ultimate “right” answer for ourselves, but rather, we should seek to chip away at the ways that we’re wrong today so that we can be a little less wrong tomorrow.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 117)
  • Certainty is the enemy of growth.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 119)
  • For individuals to feel justified in doing horrible things to other people, they must feel an unwavering certainty in their own righteousness, in their own beliefs and deservedness. Racists do racist things because they’re certain about their genetic superiority. Religious fanatics blow themselves up and murder dozens of people because they’re certain of their place in heaven as martyrs.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 133)
  • Evil people never believe that they are evil; rather, they believe that everyone else is evil.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 133)
  • Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth. As the old adage goes, the man who believes he knows everything learns nothing. We cannot learn anything without first not knowing something.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 135)
  • Our values are imperfect and incomplete, and to assume that they are perfect and complete is to put us in a dangerously dogmatic mindset that breeds entitlement and avoids responsibility.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 135)
  • Next time you’re at a swanky cocktail party and you want to impress somebody, try dropping Manson’s law of avoidance on them:
    The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 136)
  • As a general rule, we’re all the world’s worst observers of ourselves.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (p. 142)
  • I try to live with few rules, but one that I’ve adopted over the years is this: if it’s down to me being screwed up, or everybody else being screwed up, it is far, far, far more likely that I’m the one who’s screwed up.
    • Chapter 6, “You’re Wrong About Everything (But So Am I)” (pp. 145-146)
  • Action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it.
    • Chapter 7, “Failure Is the Way Forward” (p. 160)
  • The mark of an unhealthy relationship is two people who try to solve each other’s problems in order to feel good about themselves. Rather, a healthy relationship is when two people solve their own problems in order to feel good about each other.
    • Chapter 8, “The Importance of Saying No” (pp. 177-178)
  • Entitled people who blame others for their own emotions and actions do so because they believe that if they constantly paint themselves as victims, eventually someone will come along and save them, and they will receive the love they’ve always wanted.
    • Chapter 8, “The Importance of Saying No” (p. 178)
  • For victims, the hardest thing to do in the world is to hold themselves accountable for their problems. They’ve spent their whole life believing that others are responsible for their fate. That first step of taking responsibility for themselves is often terrifying.
    • Chapter 8, “The Importance of Saying No” (p. 180)
  • Without conflict, there can be no trust. Conflict exists to show us who is there for us unconditionally and who is just there for the benefits. No one trusts a yes-man.
    • Chapter 8, “The Importance of Saying No” (pp. 182-183)
  • Without acknowledging the ever-present gaze of death, the superficial will appear important, and the important will appear superficial.
    • Chapter 9, “...And Then You Die” (p. 206)
  • [The author has been writing of people striving for “this fleeting sense of being part of something greater and more unknowable than themselves”]
    And entitlement strips this away from us. The gravity of entitlement sucks all attention inward, toward ourselves, causing us to feel as though we are at the center of all of the problems in the universe, that we are the one suffering all of the injustices, that we are the one who deserves greatness over all others.
    • Chapter 9, “...And Then You Die” (p. 206)
  • As alluring as it is, entitlement isolates us. Our curiosity and excitement for the world turns in upon itself and reflects our own biases and projections onto every person we meet and every event we experience. This feels sexy and enticing and may feel good for a while and sells a lot of tickets, but it’s spiritual poison.
    • Chapter 9, “...And Then You Die” (p. 207)
  • People hold on to arbitrary certainties and try to enforce them on others, often violently, in the name of some made-up righteous cause.
    • Chapter 9, “...And Then You Die” (p. 207)
  • Our culture today confuses great attention and great success, assuming them to be the same thing. But they are not.
    • Chapter 9, “...And Then You Die” (p. 207)
  • You too are going to die, and that’s because you too were fortunate enough to have lived.
    • Chapter 9, “...And Then You Die” (p. 208)
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