I picked this book up at my local library this week. It has been out for a little while so though not new, it is new to me and its wisdom is worth sharing. Especially if you're the type of person who bristles at ideas of self-help or thinks mind-body unity is an esoteric concept.
The full title is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. The author Mark Manson has become a prolific blogger continuing to investigate and explore how to best navigate life. His attention grabbing delivery offers some familiar advice in a refreshingly frank way. Life is a struggle, life is a series of problems, we cannot control what happens- but we can choose how we respond.
This is right in line with what Alexander Technique teaches. How we react, both physically and mentally, is deeply habitual, entwined, and often derails us more than helps us. A lot of suffering is self-imposed and in reaction to external forces beyond our control. And also, there is plenty we do unconsciously that adds to feeling stressed and irritated. Manson proposes not that we are caring too much, but that we are caring too much about the wrong things. Or giving too much of a fuck about what gets in our way, not what keeps us going.
"Not giving a fuck doesn't mean being indifferent.
It means being comfortable with being different"
- Mark Manson
It is also a 'counterintuitive' approach because it points out how often our paths toward self-improvement, growth or happiness focus fundamentally on what we are lacking. Simply thinking 'I will be happy when...' reminds us that we aren't happy now. When we decide to work toward a goal, we often focus exclusively on the goal, and not enough on the work toward it. Often resenting or growing frustrated by the work as just a means to an end. Just like with Alexander, we don't focus on solving the problem- lest we become fixated on the problem- we focus on efficient functioning of the whole self which improves problems indirectly and unpredictably. We have to care less about the ends and instead care a bit more about the means.
Students ask so often, 'what can I do??' and we say 'first learn how to stop. And then prevent what you usually do'. It's paradoxical, confusing and can be frustrating to those looking for a quick fix. But there are none. By saying 'no' to what is known, we can create space for an unexpected 'yes'.
“You can’t do something you don’t know, if you keep on doing what you do know.”
- F.M. Alexander