Self-help has become a billion-dollar industry. These days influencers, life coaches and motivational speakers are dime a dozen. Given this, as with all self-help books, I approached this piece with a bucket full of skepticism, waiting to see what “tricks” it had to offer to teach me to lead a more meaningful, content and overall “happy” life. But, this book genuinely took me by surprise. Witty, philosophical and outrageously frank, this book by Mark Manson focused on more of the “why” rather than the “how”. And with that, here are my 5 takeaways on why this could be the book for you
- Happiness is a problem – Society has taught many people to repress their emotions for various cultural, political or social reasons and mostly negative emotions. But by doing so, people ignore the very feedback mechanisms in place that help solve one’s problems. Chasing happiness all the time and not paying attention to the other spectrum of human emotions, not putting in the time and effort to know why one is feeling sad, angry, lonely, jealous etc., leads many a people to struggle to deal with their problems throughout their lives. Real happiness come from solving problems. From overcoming adversity in the face of it all, not running away from it. We humans, love a challenge and love overcoming it. Stop running away from it, because pain is inevitable. And problems are everlasting. One can never get away from problems and can only trade today’s problems for better problems tomorrow. But hey? I’d rather take the red pill (Representing a life of harsh knowledge, desperate freedom, and the brutal truths of reality) rather than the “blue pill”, representing a life of luxurious security, tranquil happiness, and the blissful ignorance of the harsh realities of life, basking in an (essentially dishonest) illusion. So, embrace it for all it’s worth and learn a thing or two along the way.
2. You are not special — Emotional health is just as important as physical health and the only way to keep it healthy is eat those metaphorical veggies. Accepting those mundane and bland truths of life. You know? The ones we always shirk away from. The truth is, the vast majority of life will be boring and not noteworthy and that’s a hard pill to swallow at first. But once you swallow it, that constant pressure of accomplishing something great and to be something amazing will be lifted off you back. The constant need to always prove yourself will dissipate and so will the stress that goes along with it. And the acceptance of your own mundane existence will free you to accomplish what you truly wish to, without the expectations that go along with it. You might start having a greater appreciation for the smaller things — The pleasures of a simple friendship, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about. Ordinary things but maybe they’re ordinary for a reason. Because they are what actually matters.
3. Don’t try — Today’s world is blighted with us always wanting more. Hustling all the way, guzzling all the information we can get our hands on, chasing success in all its righteousness. We are bombarded with taglines “Everyone can be great, everyone is special”. The point is, we just care too much. About everything. We give way too many f***s. As simple as that. We give a f*** about what the traffic is like, what our co-workers think of us, the latest fad in fashion, our sports team losing. But really, why do we care so much about Elon Musk and his cybertruck? The more we give a rat’s a** about each little thing, the less attention we give to the things that matter. The important things. And at the end of it all, these are the only things that matter. Off the top of my head — Our family and friends, our health, our values and habits.
4. You are always choosing — Whether we realize this or not, we are always responsible for our own experiences. We are always choosing, whether we recognize it or not. Always. We always love to take responsibility when things are going well for us. We did a good thing at work, well guess who did that?! We often fight over who gets to be responsible for success and happiness. But taking responsibility for your problems? Having the courage and to say, Yes, I am here because I made a conscious choice to do this. How many people can say that? How many people around you are just people of circumstance? Letting life push them into corners they don’t want to get into. Pointing fingers and playing the blame game all around as to why they lead such shitty lives. But the real life-improvement does come from owning up to your problems, to take up that responsibility and not shy away from it.
5. Our own Morality — What if every day you could wake up and ask a little bird on your shoulder if today is the day you die? And what if that bird says yes, today is the day you die. How would you go about living the last day of your life? (Yes, I made a reference to Tuesday’s with Morrie just cause it’s a great book) The point is whether we accept it or not, we’re all going to die someday. We’re all going to be just pages in someone else’s story. But now? This moment right here? This is our moment right here (Yes, I made a reference to Perks of being a wallflower too). Just don’t put things off for another day. If you really want to do something, there is no better time than right now. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we are afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make. So yeah, time to go ask that girl out on a date? To start playing that guitar you always wanted to learn? To start travelling you’ve always so desired? Life is too short to not do it anyway.