I read the book by Mark Manson and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is provocative and introduces a couple of new concepts in the area of opportunities. Whether we want to choose a career, a partner or a favored news source, we have a multitude of options available to us. So why isn’t it pure bliss to be alive? Why are so many of us stressed and unfulfilled? We should have everything we want!
It’s because we’re trying to do it all. We have so many options open to us, we end up concentrating on all our different choices and opportunities, all the time. So what can we do instead? As the book shows, we need to find out what is important to us, and concentrate on doing that. Everything else? Well, we shouldn’t give a fuck about it! By limiting what we do, we will be happier and better people.
One key element is the importance of suffering. Most people go through life trying to avoid pain and suffering, which might seem like the obvious and correct approach. But in reality, it’s not a great idea. Suffering is essential to human happiness. This odd fact is a result of the key biological role that pain and suffering play in detecting when something isn’t working. For instance, when a child puts his hand on a hot stove, the pain he feels tells him that he should change his behavior and never do that again.
If you live your life solely in search of pleasure, you’ll actually end up living a life full of mistakes. Conversely, if you experience the occasional instance of suffering, you’ll be equipped to lead a better, happier life. But that’s not to say that all pain and suffering should be welcomed with open arms; instead, only take up the struggles you consider worthwhile.
The first step to overcoming this difficulty is to accept that you’re not special. This is important because people are constantly inundated by advertisements or schooling that instills the idea that they’re better than everybody else and therefore shouldn’t have to experience the pain that others do.
This delusion can lead people to avoid such pain, which, as you now know, is inadvisable. But beyond that, this line of thinking is just plain incorrect. No matter what you might think, you’re not special; you’re normal, the same as everyone else. This also means that you have to experience the same suffering as others, and you’ll be much better off if you can accept this and learn from it.
The second point is about purpose. Every person has a purpose, whether it’s to be the best sibling, a great leader or to be generous. Unfortunately, such purposes tend to get obscured by the human desires to build careers and make money. If you want to live a happy life, it’s important to uncover your purpose. Doing so will help you focus your energy and determine what you should “give a fuck” about.
To figure out your purpose, begin by honestly asking yourself why you do things. By questioning your motives, you’ll come closer to discovering what your true purpose is. Values are a crucial part of the equation because they’ll let you know whether you should take a particular action or whether you should suffer to improve a particular skill. To make sure you have the right ones, it’s first helpful to know which values are bad.
How your life plays out is not always in your hands – but when problems arise, you can take responsibility for dealing with them. Which route you take depends entirely on your purpose and your values. If you hold the value to “do something,” you’ll be forced to act, even when you’re in pain. But to be able to take action after suffering, you need to remember that there’s nothing to fear about failure; it’s actually a helpful tool for self-improvement.
Every time you fail, you learn a bit more about how to do things right the next time. Holding the right values will even keep you on track to learn from failure in the long run. However, if you value doing good for others, you’ll be compelled to keep pushing forward despite the many failures you might face.
The final takeway is to keep growing and learning. From an early age, kids are taught the difference between right and wrong. But in reality, the only way you’ll ever improve your life is to throw into doubt what you already know.
The problem is that most people never so much as consider questioning their beliefs; they accept them as fact and move on. After all, it’s a lot easier to “know” that you’re unattractive than to go out and meet people. It’s in precisely this way that certainty hampers growth. If you’re totally sure about something, you’ll never try to improve it. Furthermore, being certain actually leads to insecurity, as other ideas come along to contradict your own. So, embracing uncertainty is key. To do so, just reject the idea that you know anything for sure. You’ll start to feel more comfortable and ready for change. Even if you consider yourself unattractive, you can go out into the world and find the people who will love you exactly the way you are.
Life is full of choices, and while there are some things that are beyond our control, we are free to choose what we care about. The more we abide by this principle, the more freedom and happiness we’ll feel. Be happy, stay focused and stick to your values.
Check out the book here: