The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***

Book notes, thoughts, and reactions
published: (updated: )
by Harshvardhan J. Pandit
blog books

Happiness comes from solving problems.

This is an interesting quote. And the starting of why this book suddenly became very interesting. I have lost track of how many times I have read, heard, seen someone say that happiness can only come from giving as in helping others and not being selfish. It was endearing to see someone say that happiness comes from solving problems, without any footnote or attached note 5 pages after that tries to scope what was said. No. Problems are problems, be what they may, and solving them is a cause of happiness. This is not an universal truth, but more of a motto to strive towards living everyday. In this respect, I agree with the author. Yes, happiness does indeed come from solving problems. (see next quote)

To be happy we need something to solve.

This quote directly relates to the source of happiness. Does it mean to become happy, we must create problems? But these problems should not be the sort of problems which make us unhappy, correct? Therefore, these are problems which challenge us and uplift us and make us better. Then completing them or solving them or overcoming them would make us happy.

To be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you, not something that you magically discover in a top-ten article on the Huffington Post or from any specific

Hypothesis: happiness is an action, and not passive. Therefore, it cannot be a feeling.

If this is true, then happiness does not happen on its own. It becomes more of a reaction rather than a feeling that happens on its own. And what would this reaction be to? As said, happiness comes from solving. This does not state that this is the only source of happiness. But that happiness comes from the this particular action.

We like the idea that there’s some form of ultimate happiness that can be attained. We like the idea that we can alleviate all of our suffering permanently. We like the idea that we can feel fulfilled and satisfied with our lives forever. But we cannot.

This directly tackles the myth of the eternal happiness. Perpetuated by pretty much every approach covering the religious or sprirtiual domain. Feeling happy all the time would mean not feeling happy at all. Happiness is 'good' only because it is a comparitive pleasure. If it happened all the time, would we really be happy all the time?

This also means that chasing happiness all the time is unfulfilling and unsatisfying. And therefore, it would be worth the time and effort to work towards happiness and enjoy it at moments of success rather than strive to have as much of it as possible.

The true measurement of self-worth is not how a person feels about her positive experiences, but rather how she feels about her negative experiences.

This is a powerful quote. Everyone can deal with their positive experiences, but how the negative ones are handled decides how life is played out. The negative experiences are what shape life. The positive experiences are pleasures and do not contribute as much. This does not mean that one should seek out negative experiences to better themselves or to grow, but rather, one must have the mindset to overcome negative experiences, which is what their measure of self-worth, and thereby, their inner-strength becomes

construing everything in life so as to make yourself out to be constantly victimized requires just as much selfishness as the opposite.

This addresses the mindset that is constantly trying to think what is going wrong in life, or how things are not going well with you, or how you are the victim, and everything is someone else's fault. This will only makes someone powerless, and even happy experiences turn into not happy ones. Therefore, it is a waste of time to wallow in self-pity and blame. Taking the advice from the first quote, turn it into a problem that you can solve (or overcome) and you will find happiness in it.

It takes just as much energy and delusional self-aggrandizement to maintain the belief that one has insurmountable problems as that one has no problems at all.

Is this a choice? Is the point here that since they both take the same amount of energy, we can choose what we want to put our energies into? Or is the point rather that both of them are energy sinks, and both are false, and therefore should not be our goals or habits?

The Internet has not just open-sourced information; it has also open-sourced insecurity, self-doubt, and shame.

This is a brilliant quote. One that I can write an entire article about, and I am sure someone else has already written an article about. It relates how one can see all the 'good' and the 'positive' experiences everywhere but in their life and then see how our life is 'pale' by comparison, and therefore they produce their own unhappiness.

We’re apes. We think we’re all sophisticated with our toaster ovens and designer footwear, but we’re just a bunch of finely ornamented apes. And because we are apes, we instinctually measure ourselves against others and vie for status. The question is not whether we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is by what standard do we measure ourselves?

Okay. Saying we are apes does not mean I have a tail or a liking for bananas. Rather, it addresses the issue of how we are all driven by what are essentially animalistic tendencies. Take hunger for instance, a lot of times people are driven by the instinct of hunger. Overcoming these basic instincts is what makes us human as such.

That being said, comparison also comes naturally from the same tendencies. Wanting to have more, wanting something someone else has, wanting us to be better adapter or suited for something ... all are tendencies that we share with apes. So what do was base the comparison in/on? And is it something we want to care about? So someone has published more papers than you have - so what. Who cares. It's not a valid point of comparison. Choose what you compare with care.

Many people become so obsessed with being “right” about their life that they never end up actually living it.

This tackles the point of drowning in the meta-analysis of something and therefore never being productive about what they set out to do in the first place. For example, a lot of times, I would try to find the best way to become productive. And in doing so, would actually spend more time on it and not get anything done at all. Therefore, there is a time and place to think about things, but it should not be in the middle of it.

It’s easier to sit in a painful certainty that nobody would find you attractive, that nobody appreciates your talents, than to actually test those beliefs and find out for sure.

It's easier to sit and worry that something will definitely go bad rather than to go out and face it. Guilty.

Being wrong opens us up to the possibility of change.

Don't be afraid to be wrong, and be eager to learn when you are wrong. My best friend inspired me to believe this : )

Instead of striving for certainty, we should be in constant search of doubt: doubt about our own beliefs, doubt about our own feelings, doubt about what the future may hold for us unless we get out there and create it for ourselves. Instead of looking to be right all the time, we...

Same as above. Don't close yourself. Be open. Absorb. Improve.

Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill up the time available for its completion.”

That is a quote I should put on a t-shirt. For people like me, who will end up working 24 hours if they can. Because they think they have a lot of work, which never finishes. The truth is, it never finishes because I never let it finish. So the best way to stop working is to stop working.

As a general rule, we’re all the world’s worst observers of ourselves. When we’re angry, or jealous, or upset, we’re oftentimes the last ones to figure it out. And the only way to figure it out is to put cracks in our armor of certainty by consistently questioning how wrong we might be about ourselves.

And this applies to doing it all the time. Felt sad, question it. Felt angry, question it. Were you really just in feeling angry? Was it really whomsoever's fault? Was there something you could have done?

Because I failed to separate what I felt from what was, I was incapable of stepping outside myself and seeing the world for what it was: a simple place where two people can walk up to each other at any time and speak.

Being caught up in a world you have constructed in your mind can be easy to forget. The best way is to test its validity at all times. Think someone is upset with you? Ask them. Think something is bound to happen - test it.

The desire to avoid rejection at all costs, to avoid confrontation and conflict, the desire to attempt to accept everything equally and to make everything cohere and harmonize, is a deep and subtle form of entitlement.

This talks about finding entitlement for yourself. Avoiding things going wrong for yourself. Avoiding conflicts. Taking the path of least resistance. All those not worth it moments. It is wise to question whether they are a strategy to avoid getting out of the comfort zone or a valid thoughtful choice.

The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship comes down to two things: 1) how well each person in the relationship accepts responsibility, and 2) the willingness of each person to both reject and be rejected by their partner.

I understand the first point. I embrace the first point. But I don't get the second point. I think this comes back to the sense of entitlement from the previous point. If we keep the rejection at the back of the mind, it is going to drive all the other thoughts and actions of the relationship. Or that's how I interpret this.

When our highest priority is to always make ourselves feel good, or to always make our partner feel good, then nobody ends up feeling good. And our relationship...

So, the sole focus should not be me, nor should it be the other person. Rather, there should be a healthy balance of both?