Staying positive is a horrible value to have, according to “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” the #1 New York Times Bestseller by Mark Manson.
You are not special, your desire for happiness is a problem, and you are 100% responsible for everything that has happened to you. Can you feel yourself bristling at these suggestions? Maybe it’s time you explored the counterintuitive, Buddhist-inspired philosophy of this slap-in-the-face book… and time you started giving a few less f*cks.
Focusing on Happiness Makes You Unhappy
America’s consumer society enculturates us to believe that negative experiences and emotions are not okay. Fear, anger, guilt, sadness, and anxiety are to be avoided as much as possible. On social media, you see hundreds of images of people who appear to be accomplishing this with flying colors every single day. Everyone seems to be getting married, having super cute babies, traveling on amazing vacations, adopting adorable puppies, and having the time of their life at parties with their friends. Everyone that is, except for you.
So you feel bad. But then you start feeling bad about feeling bad. Sound familiar? Or perhaps you get anxious about getting anxious – or you feel guilty for feeling guilty. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be happy? I should be grateful for every single moment of life but I just feel pissed off and sad.
Instead of accepting your negative emotions as an unavoidable facet of the human experience, you beat yourself up for feeling bad. For being anxious or angry or guilty. But the truth is that sometimes life sucks, and the healthiest thing you can do is to admit it. Forcing yourself to fake positivity is like telling a woman who just lost a child to look on the bright side because hey – she still has her health! Not only does this not work, it actually makes things worse.
Practice Radical Self-Acceptance Instead
Not giving a f*ck is the solution. The author doesn’t mean for you to not give a f*ck about anything; that would make you a psychopath. The key is to not give a f*ck about feeling bad – to practice radical acceptance of yourself and of this messed up world we live in. Accept it and embrace it, because we are all going to be dead very, very soon.
“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.” Mark Manson, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”.
Just because something feels good doesn’t mean that it is good, and just because something feels bad doesn’t mean that it is bad. Some of the most heart-wrenching, horrible experiences of our lives turn out to be transformative, and even enlightening.
True lasting happiness requires struggle. Growth doesn’t happen when you don’t have any problems to solve. By avoiding negative emotions and turning to a screen every moment that we feel the smallest discomfort or even boredom, we are robbing ourselves of the very things we need for a meaningful life.
Pick up a copy of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck“ at your local bookstore or on Amazon.
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