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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Book Notes (Part 2)

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

Book note from one of my favorite books. I made some notes while reading the books mostly quotes. This is part 2 of this book includes chapters 3, 4 and 5.



You are not special - Chapter 3

  • Adversity and failure are actually useful and even necessary for developing strong-minded and successful adults.[44]

  • A true and accurate measurement of one’s self-worth is how people feel about the negative aspects of themselves.[44]

  • The problem with entitlement is that it makes people need to feel good about themselves all the time, even at the expense of those around them.[45]

  • The true measurement of self-worth is not how a person feels about her positive experiences, but rather how she feels about her negative experiences.[46]

  • The deeper the pain, the more helpless we feel against our problems, and the more entitlement we adopt to compensate for those problems. The entitlement plays out in one of the two ways: [55]

  • I’m awesome and the rest of you all suck, so I deserve special treatment.I suck and the rest of you are all awesome, so I deserve special treatment.

    1. I’m awesome and the rest of you all suck, so I deserve special treatment.

    2. I suck and the rest of you are all awesome, so I deserve special treatment.

  • The more freedom we’re given to express ourselves, the more we want to be free of having to deal with anyone who may disagree with us or upset us. The more exposed we are to opposing viewpoints, the more we seem to get upset that those other viewpoints exit.[57]

  • Even if you’re exceptional at one thing, chances are you’re average or below average at most other things. That’s just the nature of life. To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate shit-tons of time and energy to it. And because we all have limited time and energy, few of us ever become truly exceptional at more than one thing, if anything at all.[57]

  • Technology has solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological problems. The Internet has not just open-sourced information; it has also open-sourced insecurities, self-doubt and shame.[60]

  • The fact which has been missed by most people is that — if everyone were extraordinary, then by definition no one would be extraordinary.[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.[61]

  • The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they’re exceptional. On 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. It’s anti-entitlement.[61]

  • The ticket to emotional health, like that to physical health, comes from eating your veggies — that is, accepting the bland and mundane truths of life: truths such as “Your actions actually don’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things” and “The vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that’s okay”.[62]

The value of suffering - Chapter 4

  • Self-awareness is like an onion. There are multiple layers to it, and the more you peel them back, the more likely you’re going to start crying at inappropriate times.[70]

    • The first layer of self-awareness onion is a simple understanding of one’s emotions.[70]

    • The second layer of self-awareness onion is the ability to ask why we feel certain emotions.[71]

    • The third level of self-awareness is our personal values: Why do I consider this to be success/failure? How am I choosing to measure myself? By what standard am I judging everyone around me?[71]

  • Our values determine the metrics by which we measure ourselves and everyone else.[79]

  • If one wants to change how the person sees his problems, he has to change what he values and/or how he measures failure/success.[79]

  • There are a handful of common values that create really poor problems for people — problems that can hardly be solved.[81]

    • Pleasure: It is the most superficial form of life satisfaction and therefore the easiest to obtain and easiest to lose.

    • Material Success: When people measure themselves not by their behaviour, but by the status symbols they’re able to collect, then not only are they sallow, but they’re probably assholes as well.

    • Always being Right: People who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes. 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.

    • Staying positive: When we force ourselves to stay positive at all times we deny the existence of our life’s problems. And when we deny our problems, we rob ourselves of the chance to solve them and generate happiness.

  • The trick with negative emotions is to express them in a socially acceptable and healthy manner and express them in a way that aligns with your values.

    • express them in a socially acceptable and healthy manner.

    • express them in a way that aligns with your values.

  • Good Values are reality-based, socially constructive and immediate and controllable. Examples: Honesty, innovation, vulnerability, standing up for oneself, standing up for others, self-respect, curiosity, charity, humility, and creativity. Examples: Honesty, innovation, vulnerability, standing up for oneself, standing up for others, self-respect, curiosity, charity, humility, and creativity.[86]

  • Bad Values are superstitious, socially destructive and not immediate or controllable. Examples: dominance through manipulation or violence, indiscriminate fucking, feeling good all the time, always being the center of attention, not being alone, being liked by everybody, being rich for the sake of being rich, sacrificing small animals to the pagan gods. Examples: dominance through manipulation or violence, indiscriminate fucking, feeling good all the time, always being the center of attention, not being alone, being liked by everybody, being rich for the sake of being rich, sacrificing small animals to the pagan gods. [87]

  • As a rule, people who are terrified of what others think about them are actually terrified of what others think about them are actually, terrified of all the shitty things they think about themselves being reflected back at them.[86]

  • Because when you give better fucks, you get better problems. And when you get better problems, you get a better life.[89]

You are always choosing - Chapter 5

  • If you’re miserable in your current situation, chances are it’s because you feel like some part of it is outside your control — that there’s problem you have no ability to solve, a problem that was somehow thrust upon you without your choosing.[91]

  • We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond. [94]

  • With great responsibility comes great power. The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives. Accepting responsibility for our problems is thus the first step to solving them. [96]

  • We all love to take responsibility for success and happiness. Hell, we often fight over who gets to be responsible for success and happiness. But taking responsibility for our problems is far more important, because that’s where real learning comes from. That’s where the real-life improvement comes from. To simple blame others is only to hurt yourself.[102]

  • Outrage Porn: rather than report on real stories and real issues, the media find it much easier and more profitable to find something mildly offensive, broad-cast that outrage back across the population in a way that outrages yet another part of the population. This triggers a kind of echo of bullshit pinging back and forth between two imaginary sides, meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems. It’s no wonder we’re more politically polarized than ever before.[111]

  • Many of the relationships in our life were built around values we’ve been keeping, so the moment we change those values — the moment we decide that studying is more important than partying, that getting married and having a family is more important than rampant sex, that working a job you believe in is more important than money — we turnaround will reverberate out though our relationship, and many of them will blow up in our face. This too is normal and this too will be uncomfortable.[114]


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