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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Book Notes (Part 3)

Book note from one of my favourite books. I made some notes while reading the books mostly quotes. This is part 3 of this book includes chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9.


You’re wrong about everything - Chapter 6

  • I’m always wrong about everything, over and over and over again, and that’s why my life improves.[117]

  • 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.[117]

  • Our actions are the experiments; the resulting emotions and thought patterns are our data.[117]

  • Many people become so obsessed with being “right” about their life that they never end up actually living it.[118]

  • Certainty is the enemy of growth. Nothing is for certain until it has already happened—and even then, it’s still debatable. That’s why accepting the inevitable imperfections of our values is necessary for any growth to take place. Instead of striving for certainty, we should be in constant search of doubt. [119]

  • I used to think the human brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this. [123]

  • If we’re all wrong, all the time, then isn’t self-scepticism and the rigorous challenging of our own beliefs and assumptions the only logical route to progress? [129]

  • 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. Men rape and abuse women out of their certainty that they’re entitled to women’s bodies. Evil people never believe that they are evil; rather, they believe that everyone else is evil. [133]

  • It’s in the moments of insecurity, of deep despair, that we become susceptible to an insidious entitlement; believing that we deserve to cheat a little to get our way, that other people deserve to be punished, that we deserve to take what we want, and sometimes violently.[134]

  • The more you try to be certain about something, the more uncertain and insecure you will feel. The more you are uncertain and not knowing, the more comfortable you will feel in knowing what you don’t know.[135]

  • Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth. The man who believes he knows everything learns nothing. We cannot learn anything without first not knowing something. The more we admit we do not know, the more opportunities we gain to learn.[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. The only way to solve our problems is to first admit that our actions and beliefs up to this point have been wrong and are not working.[135]

  • The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it. That means the more something threatens to change how you view yourself, how successful/unsuccessful you believe yourself to be, how well you will avoid ever getting around to doing it.[136]

  • You avoid writing that screenplay you’ve always dreamed of because doing so would call into question your identity as a practical insurance adjuster. You avoid talking to your husband about being more adventurous in the bedroom because that conversation would challenge your identity as a good, moral woman. You avoid telling your friend that you don’t want to see him anymore because ending the friendship would conflict with your identity as a nice, forgiving person.[137]

  • Until we change how we view ourselves, and what we believe we are and are not, we cannot overcome our avoidance and anxiety, We cannot change. [138]

  • Choose to measure yourself not as a rising star or undiscovered genius. Choose to measure yourself not as some horrible victim or dismal failure. Instead, measure yourself by more mundane identities: student, a partner, a friend, a creator. [140]

  • How to be less certain of Yourself by asking the following questions: What if I’m wrong? What would it mean if I were wrong? Would wrong create a better or a worse problem than my current problem, for both myself and others?

  • It’s worth remembering that for any change to happen in your life, you must be wrong about something.[143]

  • Aristotle wrote: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Being able to look at and evaluate different values without necessarily adopting them is perhaps the central skill required in changing one’s own life in a meaningful way. [143]

  • If it feels like it’s you versus the world, chances are it’s really just you versus yourself. [146]

Failure is the way forward - Chapter 7

  • If someone is better than you at something, it’s likely because she has failed at it more than you have. If someone is worse than you, it’s likely because he hasn’t been through all of the painful learning experiences you have. [150]

  • We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed. [151]

  • A lot of this fear of failure comes from having chosen shitty values. For instance, if I measure myself by the standard “Make everyone I meet like me,” I will be anxious because failure is 100 per cent defined by the actions of others, not by my own actions. I am not in control; thus my self-worth is at the mercy of judgments by others. [151]

  • It’s growth that generates happiness, not a long list of arbitrary achievements. [152]

  • Fear and anxiety and sadness are not necessarily always undesirable or unhelpful states of mind; rather, they are often representative of the necessary pain of psychological growth. And to deny that pain is to deny our own potential. Just as one must suffer physical pain to build stronger bones and muscles, one must suffer emotional pain to develop greater emotional resilience, a stronger sense of self, increased compassion, and a generally happier life.[154]

  • It’s only when we feel intense pain that we’re willing to look at our values and question why they seem to fail us. [154]

  • Pain is part of the process. It’s important to feel it. Because if you just chase after highs to cover up the pain, if you continue to indulge in entitlement and delusional positive thinking, if you continue to overindulge in various substances or activities, then you’ll never generate the requisite motivation to actually change. [155]

  • Life is about not knowing and then doing something anyway. [158]

  • 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.[159]

  • Action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it. [160]

The importance of saying No - Chapter 8

  • Absolute freedom, by itself, means nothing. Freedom grants the opportunity for greater meaning but by itself is nothing necessarily meaningful about it. Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, and a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or one person. [166]

  • Travel is a fantastic self-development tool because it extricates you from the values of your culture and shows you that another society can live with entirely different values and still function and not hate themselves. [168]

  • We have to reject something. Avoiding rejection gives us short-term pleasure by making us rudderless and directionless in the long term. [170]

  • Rejection is an inherent and necessary part of maintaining our values, and therefore our identity. We are defined by what we choose to reject. And if we reject nothing (perhaps in fear of being rejected by something ourselves), we essentially have no identity at all. [171]

  • Unhealthy love is based on two people trying to escape their problems through their emotions for each other — in other words, they’re using each other as an escape. Healthy love is based on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problems with each other’s support. [175]

  • The difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship comes down to two things: how well each person in the relationship accepts responsibility.the willingness of each person to both reject and be rejected by their partner. [175]

  • Wherever there is a healthy and loving relationship, there will be clear boundaries between the two people and their values, and there will be an open avenue of giving and receiving rejection when necessary. [175]

  • Entitled people expect other people to take responsibility for their problems, or they take on too much responsibility for other people’s problems.[176]

  • Entitled people adopt these strategies in their relationships, as with everything, to help avoid accepting responsibility for their own problems. As a result, their relationships are fragile and fake, products of avoiding inner pain rather than embracing a genuine appreciation and adoration of their partner. [176]

  • People can’t solve your problems for you. And they shouldn’t try, because that won’t make you happy. You can’t solve other people’s problems for them either, because that likewise won’t make them happy. The mark of an unhealthy relationship is two people who try to solve each other’s problems in order to feel good about themselves. [177]

  • The setting of proper boundaries doesn’t mean you can’t help or support your partner or be helped and supported yourself. You both should support each other. But only because you choose to support and be supported. Not because you feel obligated or entitled. [178]

  • Entitled people who take the blame for other people’s emotions and actions do so because they believe that if they “fix” their partner and save him or her, they will receive the love and appreciation they’ve always wanted. [178]

  • Entitled people are the yin and yang of any toxic relationship: the victim and the saver, the person who starts fires because it makes her feel important and the person who puts out fires because it makes him feel important. [178]

  • The victim creates more and more problems to solve — not because additional real problems exist, but because it gets her the attention and affection she craves. The saver solves and solves — not because she actually cares about the problems, but because she believes she must fix others’ problems in order to deserve attention and affection for herself. [179]

  • If you make a sacrifice for someone you care about, it needs to be because you want to, not because you feel obligated or because you fear the consequences of not doing so. [180]

  • Acts of love are valid only if they’re performed without conditions and expectations. [180]

  • It’s not about giving a fuck about everything your partner gives a fuck about; it’s about giving a fuck about your partner regardless of the fucks he or she gives. That’s unconditional love baby. [181]

  • When our highest priority is to always make ourselves feel good or to always make our partner feel good, then nobody ends up feeling good. And our relationship falls apart without our even knowing it. [182]

  • 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 benefit. The pain in our relationship is necessary to cement our trust in each other and produce greater intimacy. [183]

  • If two people who are close are not able to hash out their differences openly and vocally, then the relationship is based on manipulation and misrepresentation and it will slowly become toxic. [183]

  • Cheating is so destructive because it is not about sex. It’s about the trust that has been destroyed as a result of sex. Without trust, the relationship can no longer function. So it’s either rebuilding the trust or saying your goodbyes. [183]

  • When trust is destroyed, it can be rebuilt only if the following two steps happen: the trust-breaker admits the true values that caused the breach and owns up to themthe trust breaker builds a solid track record of improved behaviour over time. [185]

  • Trust is like a china plate. If you break it once, with some care and attention you can put it back together again. But if you break it again, it splits into even more pieces and it takes far longer to piece together again. If you break it more and more times, eventually it shatters to the point where it’s impossible to restore. There are too many broken pieces and too much dust. [186]

  • The paradox of choice: Basically, the more options we’re given, the less satisfied we become with whatever we choose because we’re aware of all the other options we’re potentially forfeiting. [186]

  • The breadth of experience is likely necessary and desirable when you’re young—after all, you have to go out there and discover what seems worth investing yourself in. But depth is where the gold is buried. And you have to stay committed to something and go deep to dig it up. That’s true in relationships, in a career, in building a great lifestyle—in everything. [189]

… And then you die - Chapter 9

  • Death is the light by which the shadow of all of life’s meaning is measured. Without death, everything would feel inconsequential, all experiences arbitrary, and all metrics and values suddenly zero. [195]

  • The Denial of death essentially makes two points: Humans are unique in that we’re the only animals that can conceptualize and think about ourselves abstractly.We humans essentially have two selves.

    • The first self is the physical self—the one that eats, sleep, snores and poops.

    • The second self is our conceptual self—our identity, or how we see ourselves. [197]

  • Humans are unique in that we’re the only animals that can conceptualize and think about ourselves abstractly.

  • We humans essentially have two selves. The first self is the physical self—the one that eats, sleep, snores and poops. The second self is our conceptual self—our identity, or how we see ourselves. [197]

  • All the meaning in our life is shaped by this innate desire to never truly die. [198]

  • The only way to be comfortable with death is to understand and see yourself as something bigger than yourself, that is simple and immediate and controllable and tolerant of the chaotic world around you. [206]

  • That happiness comes from caring about something greater than yourself, believing that you are a contributing component in some much larger entity, that your life is but a mere side process if some great unintelligible production.[206]




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