Last year I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck out of curiosity. Everyone seemed to be talking about the book and it was one of our bestsellers at work but I was convinced that it was just another self-help book...with swear words.
I was right; and I was wrong.
It does have loads of swear words and it is a kind of self-help book, but it turned out to be more than that. It was actually useful and practical advice on how to become a fully functioning adult. It was a personal journal by one man that also gave the reader permission to reflect on their own personal journey in a constructive way. It was mostly done by looking through the lens of Buddhism.
Then along comes book 2 - Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope
It is and isn't about hope.
Mostly it's about how to become the best adult you can be. How to give up our childish and adolescent thinking and move towards maturity, virtue and humanity.
This time the lens is philosophy.
Manson distils the essence of Plato, Newton, Einstein, Kant, Nietzsche and Freud into easy to read, modern day language with contemporary examples. Anyone who has ever tried to read these guys in the original, knows that unless you have the time, energy, interest or motivation, that they present as being pretty dense, of-their-time, academic writing not easily accessible to the lay person.
Manson takes all that academic research and thought and not only tweaks it for a young, modern audience, but also makes it relevant to our present day lives. He talks about the Thinking Brain and Feeling Brain, our sense of control and purpose, our beliefs and values and happiness. But like the first book, it is mostly about becoming an adult. And not just any adult, but the best adult you can be.
He covers off childish thinking and adolescent thinking and shows up what adult thinking actually looks.
I think these books are great. Despite the swearing. Perhaps I'm getting used to Manson's style but I didn't notice as many F-bombs in this book as the first.
Adulting seems to be a real thing at the moment and books like these remind us that becoming an adult is a lifelong journey, with specific cultural signposts to mark the way. Manson also tells us that humankind has been literally pondering this issue ever since time began. It is not a new thing. It mostly boils down to the way we think and feel and choose to act that defines us as adults. And it's never too late to start.
I noted lots of passages throughout the book on my Goodreads page - so I've transferred them here to have them all in one spot.
Don't be put off by the title. If you have a Gen Z, young adult or millennial or two in your life, then these two books would be perfect gifts for them...and for you too.
|Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash|
- Because, in the infinite expanse of space/time, the universe does not care whether you mother's hip replacement goes well, or your kids attend college, or your boss thinks you made a bitching spreadsheet. It doesn't care if the Democrats or the Republicans win the presidential election. You care. You care, & you desperately convince yourself that because you care, it all must have some great cosmic meaning behind it.
- The opposite of happiness is not anger or sadness. If you're angry or sad, that means you still give a f*ck about something.
- The opposite of happiness is hopelessness, an endless grey horizon of resignation and indifference.
- Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness and depression. It is the source of all misery & the cause of all addiction.
- Hope narratives are what give our lives a sense of purpose.
- An irrational sense of hopelessness is spreading across the rich, developed world. It's a paradox of progress: the better things get, the more anxious and desperate we all seem to feel.
- To build and maintain hope, we need three things: a sense of control, a belief in the value of something and a community.
- The overindulgence of emotion leads to a crisis of hope, but so does the repression of emotion.
- You don't get to control your feelings, Thinking Brain. Self-control is an illusion....
But here's what you do have, Thinking Brain. You may not have self-control, but you do have meaning control. This is your superpower....You get to decipher them however you see fit....it's the meaning that we ascribe our feelings that can often alter how the Feeling Brain reacts to them.
And this is how you produce hope.
- People are liars, all of us. We lie constantly & habitually. We lie about important things and trifling things. And we usually don't lie out of malice - rather, we lie to others because we're in such a habit of lying to ourselves.
- When we stop valuing something, it ceases to be fun or interesting to us. Therefore, there is no sense of loss, no sense of missing out when we stop doing it. On the contrary, we look back and wonder how we spent so much time caring about such a silly, trivial thing....These pangs of regret or embarrassment are good: they signify growth.
- We all possess some degree of narcissism...
We all overestimate our skills and intentions and underestimate the skills and intentions of others...
We all tend to believe that we are honest and ethical than we actually are...
- The only thing that can ever truly destroy a dream is to have it come true.
- Each religion is a faith-based attempt to explain reality in such a way that it gives people a steady stream of hope...
Every religion runs into the sticky problem of evidence.
- The scientific revolution eroded the dominance of spiritual religions and made way for the dominance of ideological religions.
- Hope for nothing. Hope for what already is - because hope is ultimately empty...
Hope for this. Hope for the opportunity and oppression present in every single moment. Hope for the suffering that comes with freedom. For the pain that comes from happiness. For the wisdom that comes from ignorance. For the power that comes from surrender.
And then act despite it.
- This is our challenge...to act without hope. To not hope for better. To BE better. In this moment and the next. And the next. And the next.
Everything is fucked. And hope is both the cause and the effect of the fuckedness.
- In the same way that the adolescent realises that there's more to the world than the child's pleasure or pain, the adult realises that there's more to the world than the adolescent's constant bargaining for validation, approval and satisfaction. Becoming an adult is therefore developing the ability to what is right for the simple reason that it is right.
- The difference between a child, an adolescent and an adult is not how old they are or what they do, but WHY they do something.
- Essentially what good parenting boils down to...is helping them to understand that life is far more complicated than their own impulses or desires...children who are abused and children who are coddled often end up with the same issues when they become adults: they remain stuck in their childhood value system.
- The pursuit of happiness is not only self-defeating but also impossible...by pursuing happiness, you paradoxically make it less attainable.
- While pain is inevitable, suffering is always a choice.
That there is always a separation between what we experience and how we interpret that experience.
- The pursuit of happiness is, then, an avoidance of growth, an avoidance of maturity, an avoidance of virtue.
- The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our character, and the quality of our character is determined by our relationship to our pain.
- The only true form of freedom, the only ethical form of freedom...is not the privilege of choosing everything you want in your life, but rather, choosing what you will give up in your life...
Diversions come and go. Pleasure never lasts. Variety loses its meaning.
- Don't hope for better. Just BE better.
Be something better. Be more compassionate, more resilient, more humble, more disciplined....be a better human.