What I’m listening to… “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – A Counterintuitive Approach to Living Good Life” by Mark Manson.
I have a confession – I randomly selected this audiobook based solely on the provocative title with “F*ck” in it, as well as the high reader ratings (current a 4.5/5 stars with 123,576 ratings). What all the fuss was about?
I expected the book to be a rant against hard work, achievement, and drive: a recommendation to sit back, take it easy, and smell the flowers. What I got was something entirely different. The author, Mark Manson, born in 1984, an “elder millennial” as my sister (born in 1983) would say. His premise is that in order to really and truly care about something and make a difference, you have to STOP caring about other things, STOP being distracted by things that don’t really matter, STOP being blocked by your own fears of failure. In other words, to give a F*ck about something, you must stop giving a F*ck about many, many, many other things.
If you are a GenX’er like me this book reads like a very intuitive story. Put your head down, focus on family and work, hope for the best and expect the worst. Or as Kenan Thomspon said on an SNL skit that matched baby boomers against millennials in a game show: “I’m GenX. I just sit on the sidelines and watch the world burn.”
As I continued to listen to this book, I found it Interesting that this wary, skeptical, hard-knocks approach to achievement may not be intuitive to millennials. Not giving a F*ck came to my generation in our teenage years and early 20s, but this generation is just learning to stop giving a F*ck in their 30s. As a psychiatrist, I have worked with many talented millennials and watched them struggle, learning how to fail for the first time as a young adult. I think back to my experiences as a teenager, expecting to fail often, spending days/months/years focusing on one thing without being distracted by a barrage of internet information and connection. Lucky me.
The author urges his peers to embrace failure as a natural and healthy part of life: Make a choice! Stick with it! You will fail and pick yourself up again! From a GenX’er to any fearful millennial out there – I agree with the author – stop giving a F*ck about all the distractions and fear. Put your head down and focus on what matters to you, hope for the best and expect the worst.