The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

I'm not hugely a fan of self help books, after you read a few dozen, they all seem to look alike with just a different schtick. But the book was "The Subtle Art of not giving a fuck". Chapter one is beating the title into the ground, but after that it gets interesting with anecdotes about perspective. Some of the stories were brilliant (even if I knew them from before), and I walked away quite happy having listened to it.

Setting the right goals - If you set a goal like "I want to lose 50 lbs.", the process is that you're setting yourself up for failure. The whole time they're achieving their goal, they're upset because they haven't hit their goal. The voice in the head says, "not there yet... not there yet... I'm failing". Then when they finally do hit goal, after a tough journey, they're like, "Oh, congrats to me... now what?"

Then they have to set another goal that they're failing at, until they get there and get an instant of satisfaction, then set another goal. Etc... it's a lot of failure for a few moments of let-down/success. They're addicted to failing, because that's been the process/training they've given themselves.

The better goals are process goals that you're succeeding at daily. "I'm going to wake up today, and succeed at following a plan"... "I'm going to do something nice for someone else, each day". Things where you can wallow in the little successes of the journey, and let the destinations will come to you. Then you're programming yourself with the process.

🗒️ NOTE:
I mix this with the philosophy of Japanese Bushido and the Samurai.

If you wake up every day knowing you might have to fight with 3' razor blades, or commit ritual suicide for your King (Shogun), you'll go insane with worry about the future. "What if, what if..." you'll lose your mind in the future. So the way they coped is to live in the present. Right now is good. We live in a great country, have great friends and family, and if you're enjoying what you're doing in the moment, "I'm bettering myself by being healthier than I was yesterday", and wallow in the greatness of being alive right now, then you avoid stressing about a future that may never come (or that having worried about it, if it does, will only have made you sadder and more depressed).

Rockstars and letdowns - A quick spoiler, but one of the key take-aways of the book was the story about two "failed" Rockstars and how they dealt with it.
  1. Was about a musician who was kicked out of a band, right before they went on to success. He thought, "I'll show them, I'll get better musician and be bigger than they are". Within a couple years, his new band had signed a record deal of their own, and a year after that, their first record would go gold. The musician name was Dave Mustaine, and the new band he formed was the legendary heavy-metal band Megadeth. Megadeth would go on to sell over 25 million albums and tour the world many times over. But in a tearful 2003 interview Mustaine admitted that he couldn’t help but consider himself a failure. Despite all that he had accomplished, despite making millions of dollars and being one of the most successful Rockstars in history, he was upset because he'd never met his goal. The band he was kicked out of was Metallica, and they had sold over 180 million albums... in his mind he would always be the guy who got kicked out of Metallica.
  2. The second Rockstar was Pete Best, the drummer who got kicked out of the Beatles (and replaced by Ringo Star), right before Bealemania and they took America by storm. But when he was asked a few years after that, how he felt, and he was near celebratory. He explained without getting kicked out, he wouldn't have met his wife, had his family, he'd have been touring all the time, and missed the wonderful life he'd had by NOT being in the Beatles.

The lessons were that Pete Best was able to set a better goal, or adapt to changing goals. While Mustaine was too focused on the wrong goal to be happy with the goals he had achieved or exceeded.


So I hope you live in the moment, enjoy right now, and recognize that today you're doing something good. Set the process goals and wallow in them, and the daily successes by following them. And if you keep doing that, you'll win, whether you hit some arbitrary/made-up goal or not.


📚 References

Written 2014.12.12