20 Inspiring Quotes from “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck” by Mark Manson


It’s simple to see why Mark Manson’s guide to having a better life has been so popular with millennials. Manson doesn’t mince words as he delves into the origins of our own principles and then attempts to explain where most of us go wrong. Despite the frequent use of profanity, the book is held together by several page-turning tales and thought-provoking suggestions for leading a happy life.

Three essential concepts struck me. First, we must acknowledge that enjoyment stems from troubles. Second, it is critical to reject alternatives in order to gain depth rather than breadth of experience. Finally, the significance of viewing death as the ultimate compass for directing our ideals.  

Notable quotes

  • “Whatever your problems are, the concept is the same: solve problems; be happy.”
  • “Unfortunately, for many people, life doesn’t feel that simple. That’s because they fuck things up in at least one of two ways.”
  • “Some people deny that their problems exist in the first place. And because they deny reality, they must constantly delude or distract themselves from reality. This may make them feel good in the short term, but it leads to a life of insecurity, neuroticism, and emotional repression.”
  • “Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances. This may make them feel better in the short term, but it leads to a life of anger, helplessness, and despair.”
  • “The more people there are who proclaim themselves victims over tiny infractions, the harder it becomes to see who the real victims actually are.”
  • “Fuck you, wall. Here, have a fist.”
  • “To both men, their suffering meant something; it fulfilled some greater cause. And because it meant something, they were able to endure it, or perhaps even enjoy it.”
  • “You have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns all the time. Pleasure is the easy question.”
  • “I was sitting on my mom’s couch that summer, staring into the so-called abyss, seeing the endless and incomprehensible nothingness where Josh’s friendship used to be when I came to the startling realization that if there really is no reason to do anything, then there is also no reason to not do anything; that in the face of the inevitability of death, there is no reason to ever give in to one’s fear or embarrassment or shame, since it’s all just a bunch of nothing anyway; and that by spending the majority of my short life avoiding what was painful and uncomfortable, I had essentially been avoiding being alive at all.”
  • “If you feel crappy it’s because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved. In other words, negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, it’s because you’re supposed to do something. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are rewards for taking the proper action. When you feel them, life seems simple and there is nothing else to do but enjoy it.”
  • “Evil people never believe that they are evil; rather, they believe that everyone else is evil.”
  • “The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On the contrary, they become amazing because they’re obsessed with improvement. And that obsession with improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all.”
  • “Wanting a positive experience is a negative experience; accepting a negative experience is a positive experience. It’s what the philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backward law” – the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place.”
  • “Self-improvement” is really about: prioritizing better values, and 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.”
  • “If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.”
  • “Once you become comfortable with all the shit that life throws at you (and it will throw a lot of shit, trust me), you become invincible in a sort of low-level spiritual way. After all, the only way to overcome pain is to first learn how to bear it.”
  • “Because here’s another sneaky little truth about life. You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and an embarrassment to others. You just can’t. Because there’s no such thing as a lack of adversity. It doesn’t exist. The old saying goes that no matter where you go, there you are. Well, the same is true for adversity and failure.”
  • “No matter where you go, there’s a five-hundred-pound load of shit waiting for you. And that’s perfectly fine. The point isn’t to get away from the shit. The point is to find the shit you enjoy dealing with.”
  • “…that you and your problems are actually not privileged in their severity of pain”
  • “There’s a saying in Texas: ” the smallest dog barks the loudest” A confident man doesn’t feel a need to prove that he’s confident. A rich woman doesn’t feel a need to convince anybody that she’s rich. Either you are or you are not. And if you’re dreaming of something all the time, then you’re reinforcing the same unconscious reality over and over: that you are not that.”