“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice – well, then you’re going to get fucked.” – Mark Manson
In this article we’re talking: “How to not give a fuck”
But first a disclaimer…
There is no one:
- Who doesn’t give a fuck about anything
- Who is completely indifferent to everything
- Who doesn’t care about anything or anyone
In fact, most of the people who say they “don’t give a fuck” give lots of fucks.
The Paradox of not giving a Fuck
“I’m pretending I don’t give a fuck by saying “I don’t give a fuck”, and by putting that out there, I’m making a conscious decision to not give a fuck, but in doing so, I’m giving a fuck about not giving a fuck. Which means you give a fuck.” – Joe Rogan
Joe Rogan is right: If someone makes a point of saying they don’t give a fuck, it’s almost always a dead giveaway that they do.
The truth is that everyone gives a fuck about something: Love. Money. Power. Sex. Status. Whatever. Even the people you think of as not giving a fuck such as the 9/11 hijackers, ISIS, Pablo Escobar etc. all gave lots of fucks, maybe not about the same things that you or I do, but they did. Everyone does.
It’s impossible not to give a fuck about anything, nor is that desirable.
In fact, it’s important to give a fuck sometimes:
- If you don’t give a fuck at work, you’ll get fired
- If you don’t give a fuck in business, you’ll soon be out of business
- If you don’t give a fuck about your friends, you soon won’t have any friends
And giving too many fucks about your goals even to the point of obsession like LeBron James, Roger Federer, Steve Jobs etc. can be an awesome thing. That’s how champions are made and the world is changed.
The problem is that too many of us give too many fucks about the things that aren’t important and that don’t matter. The things we can’t control and can’t change e.g. The opinions of others, what other people think of us, whether or not someone else likes us.
What we should be doing is prioritizing our fucks for the things that matter:
“In life, our fucks must be spent on something. There really is no such thing as not giving a fuck. The question is simply how we each choose to allot our fucks. You only get a limited number of fucks to give over your lifetime, so you must spend them with care. As my father used to say, “Fucks don’t grow on trees, Mark.” OK, he never actually said that. But fuck it, pretend like he did. The point is that fucks have to be earned and then invested wisely.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
Before we go further, let’s define what a “fuck” is:
The definition of a “fuck”
“Giving a fuck means you care. When I say I don’t give a fuck about Game of Thrones, I mean I don’t care about Game of Thrones. Now let’s take the concept a step further: Let’s define your fucks as your time, energy, and money.” – Sarah Knight
I like this definition.
So what are the things that we should and shouldn’t give a fuck about?
Things you should give a fuck about
- Your career
- Your business
- Your time
- Your money
- Your health
- Your goals
- Your friends
- Your family
- Your partner
Things you shouldn’t give a fuck about
- What other people think about you
- Whether or not other people like you
- Whether or not other people approve of your decisions
- The things you can’t control and can’t change
- The expectations of others – unless it’s your boss or your customers
- The opinions of others – especially those who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about
- Celebrity gossip
- The latest trends
- The news – 99% is just clickbait garbage
Before we go further, I want to draw to your attention one of the most common signs that you give too many fucks about the opinions of other people: Approval seeking.
If you’re constantly engaging in one or more of the following behaviors, you probably give too many fucks:
- Attention seeking behavior
- Apologizing when you have nothing to be sorry for
- Asking permission when it’s not needed
- Being overly agreeable and seeking rapport at all costs
- Being overly concerned with the opinions of other people
- Being overly loud in order to draw attention to yourself
- Dressing in such a way that is likely to draw attention to you
- Fishing for compliments
- Forcing complimentary attributes/stories about yourself into conversation
- Laughing at things that aren’t funny
- Posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram etc. that you know are likely to result in lots of compliments and likes
- Trying to be someone you’re not
Do yourself a favor: Drop all attachment to what other people think/say/do, and don’t feel the need to answer/explain/justify yourself to anyone.
- You are not inferior to anyone
- You are not less than anyone
- It’s not your job to make anyone happy
Unless you’ve made a promise or signed a contract you don’t ‘owe’ anyone anything.
Why you shouldn’t give a fuck
I’m not saying you shouldn’t give a fuck about anything, but here’s why you shouldn’t give a fuck about most things:
Let’s be honest, most things aren’t important and don’t matter. Laurel or Yanny? The royal wedding? Stormy Daniels? Who gives a fuck?
“Nothing matters very much, and few things matter at all.” – Arthur Balfour
It’s liberating. When you stop caring what other people think, no one will be able to manipulate you into doing anything you don’t want to do.
“Not giving a fuck—crucially—means releasing yourself from the worry, anxiety, fear, and guilt associated with saying no, allowing you to stop spending time you don’t have, with people you don’t like, doing things you don’t want to do.” – Sarah Knight
Most people are stupid. Why should you care what the average idiot thinks?
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” – George Carlin
Most people aren’t thinking about you anyway. They’re thinking about themselves.
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
You can’t make everyone happy. People will criticize and complain no matter what you do. So you might as well do whatever you want to do.
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you’ll be criticized anyway.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
When you stop giving a fuck you’ll take more chances, and experience more of what life has to offer.
“Then you’re not scared to try shit, because when you don’t give a fuck about what anybody says about you failing, you love failing.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
The problem with giving too many fucks about what other people think, is that you become afraid to take chances, your comfort zone starts to shrink, and you start holding back in life.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu
You’ll regret it when you get older, and if you’re like me, you might even look back in disgust at any approval seeking behavior.
“The ability to reserve our fucks for only the most fuckworthy of situations would surely make life a hell of a lot easier. Failure would be less terrifying. Rejection less painful. Unpleasant necessities more pleasant and the unsavory shit sandwiches a little bit more savory. I mean, if we could only give a few less fucks, or a few more consciously-directed fucks, then life would feel pretty fucking easy.” – Mark Manson
How to not give a fuck
How do you stop giving a fuck about the things that don’t matter?
Here are some good tips:
Ask yourself this question
“Ask yourself the question: “Will this matter a year from now?” – Richard Carlson
If the answer is no – don’t give a fuck.
If the answer is yes – do something about it.
Ask yourself this question too
“Why do you give a fuck?”
Do you give a fuck because it’s really that important?
Or only because you’ve been brainwashed by other people/the media/social media to give a fuck?
“Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy.” – Mark Manson
Have something more important to focus on
One of the best ways to stop giving a fuck about the things that don’t matter, is to have something more important to focus on.
When you have some big important goal you’re working on e.g. your own business, you don’t have any time left over to waste on unimportant crap that doesn’t matter.
You sweat the small stuff when you’re not focused on the big stuff.
Make a conscious effort
“Try not giving a fuck, there’s a lot of power in that.” – Marc Maron
I used to give a fuck about everything. I would get angry and frustrated at the smallest things, and like most people, I was extremely attached to what other people thought, said, and did.
That was until I made a conscious effort to stop being triggered by the things that annoyed me about other people. Whenever anyone said or did something I didn’t like, I would instantly let it go instead of analyzing it to death, or letting it build up into something big in my mind.
This was extremely difficult at first, and I was definitely triggered by a lot of things along the way, but now it’s become easy and effortless. It’s 2nd nature. I rarely get triggered by anything. Even if someone says something intended to annoy or trigger me I don’t care and I don’t respond.
I think this would be a good practice for most people.
Most people react compulsively to everything everyone says and does. They’re so easily angered. So easily offended. So easily triggered. It’s so easy to push their buttons because they have so many. They’re like children.
If you’re constantly triggered and upset by everything like I was, you’ll definitely need to make a conscious effort to “let go” in the beginning. But I promise you that after a while it becomes easier not to react then it does to react. The only reason it seems hard now, is because you’ve been conditioned to react and so you’re used to it.
You might be thinking to yourself:
“I can’t let EVERYTHING go!”
“Some people need to be told their shit stinks!”
“There are times that I need to speak up and say something!”
Maybe sometimes, but not always, and definitely not most of the time.
Try out what I’m saying and see for yourself. The next time you feel the urge to speak up and say something – especially when someone says or does something stupid – don’t – and then see what happens. See if it makes any difference at all.
What you’ll find is that 99.99% of the time it doesn’t make any difference at all.
Anyone can yell and scream and argue and fight, but it’s even tougher to let things go, especially in real-time as they happen, without the slightest bit of anger, hatred, or resentment. It’s better for you too. And, like I said, the more you practice letting go, the easier it gets, and you’ll start to wonder why everyone else is so damn intolerant and reactive. They’re like children who can’t help themselves.
Accept the things you can’t change.
Change the things you can.
“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle
Without exception: The people that are most easily triggered and upset by every little thing, have an overactive mind that has been conditioned to react to everything.
Meditation gives you space between you and your mind, and it allows you to detach from your triggers and to watch your thoughts without reacting to them, and to feel your emotions without being overwhelmed by them. After a while this becomes automatic and easy even when you’re not meditating.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl
Most of the time you give a fuck about something, you’re either anxious about the future, angry/frustrated/sad about the past, or focused on things you can’t change and can’t control.
However when you practice mindfulness and you bring your attention consciously back into the present moment, you become more resourceful, and your mind is less likely to wander or to come up with painful “why” questions about the past, or scary “what if” scenarios about the future.
Whatever it is that you’re afraid of:
- Public speaking
- Talking to the opposite sex
- The judgments of other people
You have to face that fear until you’re desensitized to it, until you don’t give a fuck about it any longer.
If you get nervous about public speaking – join Toastmasters and start practicing. Do it until you’re bored with it and you just don’t give a fuck.
If you get nervous talking to girls – talk to a lot of them. Do it until you’re bored with it and you just don’t give a fuck.
If you give a fuck about getting rejected in sales, make so many calls and get so many rejections that you just don’t give a fuck any more.
The more confident you are, the less fucks you’ll give in general, especially about what other people might think/say/do.
Confidence building activities
- Acting classes
- Martial Arts
- Public speaking
- Mastering a skill, becoming a subject matter expert
- Making progress on something that is important to you
- Wearing clothes that suit you and make you look good
Remember: You’ll be dead soon
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” – Steve Jobs
You don’t have time to give a fuck. You really don’t.
Do what you want or don’t – either way you’ll be dead soon.
Go for your dreams or don’t – either way you’ll be dead soon.
- Ask yourself: Will it matter one year from now? If not – don’t worry about it.
- Why do you care? Does it really matter? Is it really that important? Or have you been brainwashed into giving a fuck about a bunch of bullshit?
- Have something more important to focus on. Some big goal. Be so busy with your goals that you don’t have time to sweat the small stuff
- Make a conscious effort. Not giving a fuck isn’t easy at first, especially if you’ve been brainwashed and conditioned to give a fuck, but the more you practice acceptance and letting go, the easier it gets
- Practice mindfulness. Keep your attention in the present moment.
- Desensitize yourself to the things that scare you
- Remember: You’ll be dead soon. You don’t have time to give a fuck. You really don’t.
“In my life, I have given a fuck about many people and many things. I have also not given a fuck about many people and many things. And like the road not taken, it was the fucks not given that made all the difference.” – Mark Manson
If you liked this article you’ll love: The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck
Sacha Baron Cohen image credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com