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  • Writer's pictureElfreda Manahan-Vaughan

Books for Personal Transformation No. 3

Books to Read for Personal Transformation No. 3

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote one of these so, I thought I share with you one of my latest additions to my bookshelf. It’s not very often that I read a book twice in a row but the following one is a book that was not only so enjoyable but also inspiring and as soon as I finished it I started it again. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life by Mark Manson is not only irreverent, as the title suggests, but also filled with nuggets of wisdom about life and how to choose better things to give a f*ck about.

Mark Manson writes in a style that is easy to read and he shares much of his own failings and mistakes as he brings you on a journey from feeling unhappy about your lot to realising you always have a choice. Manson maintains that no matter what you do you always have to choose what to care about because even if you choose not to care, you are still caring about that. If you have to choose, then you need to become more aware of what you are placing your time and attention on and begin to choose to care about the things that are really important.

If you spend your time being angry because you are stuck in a queue or because things aren’t going your way at work or at home, then perhaps you should reconsider what you are focusing on. Manson believes you have to acknowledge your responsibility, not because things are your fault but because your reaction always is your responsibility. He believes we often confuse fault with having to apportion blame and so we miss out on the fact that we still have to take responsibility for our thinking and behaviour, even if the events that lead up to us, initially, feeling a particular way was not our fault.

One of the things I liked most about this book is his discussion on the modern sense of entitlement. ‘The pampering of the modern mind has resulted in a population that feels deserving of something without earning that something, a population that feels they have a right to something without sacrificing for it’. I guess what I really liked about his narrative on entitlement is the way he breaks it down. He believes we all feel entitled. If you have been given everything you needed and wanted as a child, then you grow up expecting that to continue throughout your life. If you grew up the opposite, faced with hardship or challenge, then you still feel entitled because you believe you should have some form of compensation. Manson thinks this impacts all of our relationships because we develop an assumption that we are special in some way.

In the chapter, You Are Not Special, he says entitlement plays out in two ways:

1. I’m awesome and the rest of you all suck, so I deserve special treatment.

2. I suck and the rest of you are all awesome, so I deserve special treatment.

This also forces us to focus on what he calls exceptionalism. This occurs when you start to believe that you should be special or exceptional and you get caught up in thinking that people we are exposed to in the media are the rule, and not the exception. However, if we were all the same then no one would be extraordinary at all, and so Manson thinks we should just be happy with average because once we free ourselves up from trying to be the best then ‘your body will wake up feeling more potent and more alive’. ‘You will have growing appreciation for life’s basic experiences: the pleasures of simple friendship, creating something, helping a person in need, reading a good book, laughing with someone you care about.’

When we choose what to care about, and realise being ordinary is ok, we can lead a simpler and certainly less stressful life. If this something you would enjoy, then I definitely recommend you read this book.

Thanks for reading, Elfreda

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