“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK” by Mark Manson embodies Stoicism for 2020. With more F bombs than Marcus Aurelius used, because 2020 deserves all the F bombs in the arsenal.
By not caring too much, you can work towards something but not be so focused that when 2020 decides to take it to the next level and release the chain saw wielding mutated economists or whatever the hell is coming next month, you can just roll with the punches and move on.
Alan Watts calls it “The Backwards Law”: the more you want something, the more that you work for something, the less likely you are to get it.
Because if you care too much about it, you’re trying too hard. It interferes with your Flow.
Care, but just enough, and only as long as is appropriate. That is the secret to success.
The Tao Te Ching talks about doing your job, then putting down your tools and returning to your life. Be they weapons of war, or your computer. Do the job, care enough to do it well, and move on without the emotional baggage.
Two monks were walking in a rainstorm, and a young woman was stuck on a rock and in danger. The older monk picked her up, carried her to safety, and moved on. An hour later the younger monk, still upset at the violation of their oath to not touch a female, berated the helping monk. The older and wiser monk, NGAF (Not Giving a F*CK) replied “I put the woman down on the river edge. How long will you carry her?”
SMACK! Shut it, whelp!
Carrying guilt for doing what had to be done in a time of chaos, to save another, is giving a F*CK that you should save for something more important. And being upset over someone else doing this is not your responsibility so keep your nose in your own business Karen. No, you CAN’T talk to the manager!
F*CKs are a limited resource. We only have so many to give. So what are you giving them to?
That idiot that cuts you off on the way to the office, that you road rage against and let take one of your valuable F*CKs for the day? Just say “F you” mentally and forget them, move on, and save that F*CK for something important.
Potential client says “no, I don’t want your service that will make my life better, save me money, and outsource the caring about this issue to you the professional instead of me half assing it myself”? Don’t waste additional F*CKs beyond what you already have. Just move on. Save that F*CK to try and help someone else, someone who does give an F.
Kids only going to school quarter of the time this fall? Oh well. Instead of railing against the Governor or the idiots not following/believing basic science or getting into a flaming debate on Facebook, just say “oh well” and move forward and figure out a way to deal. As my mom (an educator) always said: never let school interfere with your education. Give a F*CK about creating a desire for knowledge instead of checking boxes, it’s more important overall.
Only care about the things that are important. If it’s not important, it isn’t worth wasting one of your valuable F’s on.
Oh, they only have 85% lean beef instead of 93%? No F given, roll with it. Pour off the extra fat and suck it up.
Client had to reschedule because of an issue with the kid? If you have five clients scheduled every day, one needing to meet next week instead of today shouldn’t financially impact you if you are running a high activity business. So don’t waste an F, just re-allocate the time to other business activities.
Spill coffee all over your shirt? Bitch for 30 seconds and move on. Also keep an extra shirt in your office because EVERYONE spills coffee all over the place at one point or another. Don’t waste an F, and plan to minimize the inevitable disaster.
Lose a case? Go find another.
Lose out in competition? Get better. Win next time, and more often in the future. Invest your F in maximizing your abilities, not on that one where you weren’t the best. Care about becoming the best and you won’t care about losing as much.
Car engine blow up on the highway on the way to the office? Move it to a phone conference and do it while waiting for the tow truck, and give an F about getting a new car so you can get back to mobile and making money, with more incentive to succeed. Focus on the big goal, not the little things in the way of the goal. I did.
Care about the big things, not the little time or energy wasting things. That’s why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit type: so he could grab and go and not care about it. That’s why for 15+ years I only had white dress shirts: so I could avoid using an F on whether my lavender shirt matched my violet tie. F it, white shirt, blue suit, almost any tie in the closet and GO!
“A people without a vision perish.” Because since they really care about nothing, EVERYTHING is the end of the world and they expend their energy on the miniscule issues.
John F Kennedy Jr. cared about getting The US to the Moon. He didn’t give a hoot about the new technologies we had to build, or the cost, or the fact the Russians were ahead of us in the Space Race. He had a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) that the country bought into, to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. And JFK didn’t live to see it happen, but the country still gave the F to get us there. Because we had saved up the will and reserves and didn’t waste them on trivial crap. Not giving an F about stupid stuff give you the power to focus and achieve the meaningful things.
So given the chaos and confusion of 2020 that is only going to get worse from the sounds of it, guard your reserves. Focus on the big things in your life, not the inevitable little bumps on the road to the mountain of success. Don’t give a F*CK, until it is time to really give one and then do so because it really matters. That is how we are going to make it through to next year and succeed in this one.