Lessons learned from “The Subtle Art of Not Giving” by Mark Manson

You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of care to give. Very limited, in fact… So you should learn how to focus your thoughts and manage your priorities effectively… How to pick or choose what you really care about and recognize what you don’t, based on accurately placed personal values.

Have you ever noticed how the community's advices focus on what we are lacking rather than on what we have? If the community's advice is effective, then why isn’t the world a better place? Why are people miserable? Why are they so full of anger, fatigue and misery? If positive thinking is the secret to happiness, then shouldn’t the world become pink overnight?

In The Subtle Art of Not Giving, Mark Manson says: "The bad is bad and we have to live with it.”

Here are nine lessons we learned from this book.

Lesson #1: Be honest with yourself.

If you do something wrong or you fail in doing something, you have to admit it to yourself. There’s no need to tell yourself that you haven’t failed or blame the circumstances or other people. If you’re poor, there’s no need to lie to yourself and keep telling yourself that you’re rich just so you could feel better. Let your success comes from your own knowledge about yourself.

Lesson #2: Don’t care too much.

Did you know that most diseases are caused by caring too much about matters that are not important? Let’s imagine this: You're worried about something. You decide to take a break and eat something. But your stomach finds it difficult to digest food because you’re stressed. Your irritable bowel starts making strange sounds. Now you’re worried that others will hear those sounds. Someone has already heard. You’re now worried about what this person thinks about you so you become more stressed and now can’t sleep. Your stress only increases when you remember that you have an important meeting in the morning. See how your over-caring affected your whole day? Your entire week, actually. Set your priorities. If you can control or do something about the subject of your concern, then do the right thing. But if you can’t do anything about it, why care too much?

Lesson #3: Be mature.

Maybe you’ve never noticed that you always choose what you care about. Yes, it’s true. Whether you’ve noticed this or not. Such as what others say about us. Or do I look thin. Or feeling sad over hair loss which you can’t control (if you have a secret for preventing hair loss please contact me immediately on my email… Thank you). We also notice when we grow up that many of the situations we felt sad about or cared about in the past seem stupid now… simply, maturity is what happens when a person learns to only care about what is worth caring about.

Lesson #4: Hardships are a positive thing, accept them.

“Suffering is biologically useful. It is nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change.” When you were a toddler learning how to walk, did you give up when you fell? No. Did you tell yourself that maybe you weren’t born to walk? No. Did you blame the circumstances every time you fell down? No. Your success in life depends on your strength in challenging and overcoming difficulties. The more hardships you overcome, the more you succeed.

Lesson #5: Our struggles determine our success.

The road to success is bumpy, full of obstacles, furnished with broken glass, surrounded by traps. When you decide to get somewhere, ask yourself “what am I willing to endure to get there?”

Lesson #6:Understand yourself.

In one job, I had an incompetent manager who knew nothing about administration and was not a leader. I used to leave work feeling irritated every day. One day I came back from work and had to drive my sister's children somewhere. In the car, my little nephew started playing in the backseat, which is normal for a child because that’s what children do. And he was happy being with his uncle! But what I did was shoot him a hard glare that scared him. I saw fear in his small eyes. I felt guilty, which is why I took the children for a short ride before taking them to the place they were supposed to go to. I asked myself “what made me look at him that way?” Is it because he was playing? No, I love seeing them happy and he’s just a child. He has nothing to do but play. Until I finally concluded that being in that job that I loved with this bad manager had controlled my mood and therefore my involuntary emotions. I decided to find a solution, and of course made the right decision…. I quit my job. Don’t be scared of understanding yourself and discovering your weaknesses. This is a step forward to becoming a better person.

Lesson #7: Don’t fall into the trap of worthless values.

Such values don’t really help you gain a thing. Have you ever craved potato chips and candies? You went to Abu Ahmad’s shop and bought what you wanted. Paid a couple of dollars and went back home to enjoy the purchases. How did you benefit from paying the two dollars? You pleasured yourself for fifteen minutes. The value here is “pleasure” and it’s a worthless value. It’s the easiest to achieve and the fastest to disappear... See what I’m getting at?

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Lesson #8: Take responsibility for everything that happens in your life.

You’re walking with a cup of hot coffee in your hand. You’re not watching where you’re going and you suddenly bump into someone. The hot coffee burns you and stains your white shirt and you start yelling at your colleague. Was it his fault? Maybe. But you'd better take responsibility for the fact that you weren’t looking ahead and that it’s not entirely your colleague’s fault.

You’re not convinced? Fine, he’s another example. You decide to drive to a café that is 20 minutes away from your home if you’re on feet. You suddenly find yourself stuck in an awful traffic jam, and now the drive there is going to take 40 minutes. You start cursing your luck. But wait. Is it your luck’s fault? Weren’t you the one who chose to drive instead of walking there?

That didn’t convince you either? Fine. Think about anything “bad” currently going on in your life. Be honest with yourself. Be mature. Understand yourself. Who is to blame? Be responsible for what is happening in your life.

Lesson #9: Learn to say “No”.

Saying yes every time someone asks you for a favor is torment to the soul. Only kind hearts understand it. But why do you have to say yes every time? Even when you need time to yourself? Even when you’re tired. Isn’t it better to have enough emotional intelligence to know when to say yes and when to say no? In time, asking you for favors turns into taking advantage of your kindness and lack of emotional intelligence. You have to learn to say no without being rude. Learn when to say no.



Our brains are working within mechanisms. A lot of our beliefs are invalid. We eat chocolate, so we think that chocolate hurts us. But the truth is that the industrial sugar used in the manufacturing of chocolate is what hurts us.

Start punishing yourself. The only way to become a better person is by being a mature person who understands himself and doesn’t care about what is not worth the care.

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