Book Review : The subtle art of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson

My favourite lines from the book :

My recommendation: don’t be special; don’t be unique. Redefine your metrics in mundane and broad ways. Choose to measure yourself not as a rising star or an undiscovered genius…..Instead measure yourself by more mundane identities: a student, a partner, a friend, a creator.

Unlike any self help book, this guide puts forward a ‘counterintuitive approach to living a good life’. Now what would you expect from a self help book : assurances like ‘you are special and born to extraordinary things’, ‘ whatever you think is or isn’t, you are right’, ‘keep trying’, ‘don’t doubt yourself’ and the like. But not this book. This book tells you that you are not special. ( And after reading the book, I agree with Mark! )

Mark Manson has very adeptly laid down his counter-intuitive thoughts well- illustrated using anecdotes from his life and those of his acquaintances. Throughout the book, you will get to read lines like : ‘Don’t try’ ( the first chapter) , ‘You are not special’, ‘Doubt your own thoughts’ and the best part : his reasoning and rationale is not flawed. In fact this is what make this book worth reading – because of Mark’s candid and uninhibited way of laying down secrets of living a happy life, secrets which are not in accordance with the generally- accepted philosophy, yet holds water. He has also laced his writing with profane humour & unbridled expressions. ( The title of the book is proof itself ! )

All in all, this groundbreaking book will definitely help you in re-evaluating your mantras of life. And according to Mark,once you do that you will realise that living a contented and happy life isn’t that difficult after all.

Highly recommended.

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My biggest learning of life till date

A Content Heart

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                     ‘ You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough’

– William Blake

No matter who we are, where we are born or what we do, each one of us has a single goal to achieve in life – to attain contentment. If you are satisfied with what you have and feel fortunate about it, you will automatically be happy. Whatever we do in life, everything is directed to that broader goal – to achieve satisfaction and happiness. And the one reason we are way too far from this goal is because our metrics are faulty. We tend to compare ourselves with someone who has achieved greater heights than us, or has greater number of opportunities than us, or greater wealth, health or accolades– in a nutshell, the person is on a higher pedestal than us. Without putting ourselves in their shoes, we tend to judge their life and worse – we compare ourselves with them. We have the natural instinct to feel low and beat ourselves up pondering over things we don’t have while we see others enjoying . This feeling of incompleteness brings remorse and not contentment.

If we continue on the same road, the desire of achieving contentment will be a distant goal. Being ambitious is great. But being ignorant of what you have is a disease which will never let you bask in your own glory.

The first step towards the goal would be to recognize your privileges. If you are reading this right now, you belong to a privilege class – Yes – you have access to internet – you have a computer/laptop/mobile – you have education to comprehend my words – you have mental stability to understand the thought – you have the eyesight to see the picture. Think of people living in this world without these things, and let me assure you – there ARE people living in this world without these things I mentioned – even worse – there are people living in this world without the basic needs and comfort we enjoy in our everyday lives.

So should we not be ambitious and just be content with what we have? No, that is not my idea of a content and happy life. Work hard to achieve what you want in life, fulfill every dream you have. But don’t let you heart sink by comparing your life with somebody else‘s , thinking that you have got less. Even if you want to compare, compare with someone who has much less than you have, and think how bravely he is fighting life’s battle. Probably then, we all would respect what we have in life and be happy and content– at the same time persevering to achieve a little more . This empathy towards the less privileged will keep us grounded and bring the element of satisfaction in our life. That‘s the secret, my friend, for a happy – and more importantly a content life as former is a direct consequence of the latter.

 A content heart is a happy heart.

–  Amateur

A world of Opposites

a tale

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. .

– Excerpt from  ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens.

Right from childhood, these lines by notable writer Charles Dickens always intrigued me. I was never able to comprehend what he actually meant.Initially,owing to my immaturity and innocence, I thought he might be confused about his feelings and was not able to judge the situation – after all how can the time be both best and worst simultaneously. There has to be a single perspective.His words are contradictory.The anaphora is puzzling.It is a paradox. What does he really mean?

I must admit that I have not read the novel. I tried but I could not. I don’t deny the fact that it is not one of the great pieces by a notable writer, but my taste in reading was different. I do accept that had I read the novel , I could have got the real idea beneath the words. But as I said, I was quite stubborn with my taste.

Now, when I look at these words, I get a sense of familiarity.As we grow, we learn that good and bad,darkness and lightness, hope and despair, heaven and hell – both co-exist.You will not find one without the other. It creates a kind of balance in this universe. If you have faced good times, you are bound to encounter worst predicaments. If you are filled with hope today, you will feel low tomorrow.If you are happy today, tomorrow you never know what might sadden you. If you are wise today, with time that knowledge will not be enough.These opposites definitely attract each other.

But there is a sanguine side to this whole theory. If you have been a tough time in your life, are you going to suffer your whole life?No. If you are sad today, will there not be a good news waiting for you tomorrow? No. If you are ignorant today, can the world make you stay ignorant if you work and learn hard. An emphatic No. The pearl to be picked up here is both good and bad exist in this world. It is a world of opposites. A roller coaster ride where at one time you are at the zenith, while at the other, you are deep down. But does it stop? No. It keeps going changing highs to lows, lows to highs.

Remember, Change is the only constant. Good and bad both co-exist. Fight the bad, embrace the good.

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To Win OR To Win Fairly

Jamaica's Yohan Blake, second left, starts in a men's 100-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

 

Prayer of a Sportsman

Dear Lord, in the battle that goes on through life
I ask but a field that is fair,
A chance that is equal with all in the strife,
A courage to strive and to dare;

And if should win, let it be by the code
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road,
And cheer as the winners go by.

-Berton Braley

Although the above excerpt from Berton’s creation bears the heading ‘ Prayers of a Sportsman’ , but you don’t have to be a sportsman to keep this thought in your heart, for every human being on this planet is a participant of a race – a race to succeed in life, to achieve what one dreams ,a continuous effort to prove oneself superior than others, a race which goes on till our last breath – In that way , we all are sportsmen , aren’t we?

Nowadays, people are so busy with their respective races, that they often forget the rules and the sportsman spirit which is necessary to keep the competition fair and humane. The focus is only on winning, rather than winning fairly. Only the ultimate results matter. But there is one question that needs to be answered. Will the person gazing back at us from the mirror be happy and content with us winning the race at any cost ignoring the fairness of the game? Will he be happy seeing the trophy even if we know that somebody else deserves it more?

In modern day scenario, one can’t help but ponder on Berton’s lines to realize how precisely he has sketched an honorable sportsman’s character– he wants to win but only when he deserves it, else he asks for enough strength so that he is able to forget his own defeat and revel in winner’s celebration. That’s a sportsman’s glory, his triumph and his legacy that will inspire millions after him.

Hence, the choice is simple- to win OR to win fairly. The answer lies nowhere but within us.

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