Chapter #1: Don’t Try
In the opening chapter of his book, Mark Manson makes two strong points. The first point is that the consumer culture and social media are driving us mad by projecting a picture of life that is unrealistic and hurtful. The other point which he makes is that negative emotions like anxiety, disappointment and embarrassment are not only necessary but also critical to our success but the fact that the media bombards us with examples of exceptions like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk all the time makes success look like an overnight product and hides the time, effort, and disappointment that is faced while making Apple or SpaceX or any other venture successful.
Advertisements tell us that having more stuff is linked to happiness, their agenda is to make you believe that the key to happiness is a bigger home, a slimmer mobile phone and a sports car that comes with a picture perfect spouse. This sells their product but at the same time you start to take things that you have for granted. Everything is jolly on social media as well. People are getting jobs, winning competitions, and visiting exotic places while you sit at home and regret your meaningless existence.
It hurts really bad. And it happens to a lot of us. So what do we do?
For Mark it boils down to two things: identifying values and then doing what is really important and meaningful in life or as he calls it only giving a f*ck about stuff which actually matters. Once you find values that really make sense to you (and are reasonable), you can do stuff without caring about the consequences and this makes you “unstoppable”. Obviously, if you care about something and you really want it, it would make a lot of sense to chase it but unless you can shut off yourself from distractions, you can not give your 100% to what you are doing.
To do things that are difficult and meaningful, you must make suffering your friend because everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. To become healthier, you must suffer the pain in the field or gym. To become successful in business, you must first face disappointment and so on. Thus, while the media only shows you the fame and success and the smiling faces, you must realize that the negative experience in life lead to positive experiences while chasing highs (or positive experiences) all the time (e.g. mindless internet surfing and endless music playlists etc) ends up creating trouble in the long term.
How do we identify meaningful values? How do we focus on goals that matter to us? This and much more will be discussed in the upcoming articles.