This week I’ve been reading ‘The Subtle Art of not Giving Fuck’ by Mark Manson. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has heard of this book but not many have read it. After finishing it last night I’m quite comfortable saying that this is the best self-help book I've read all year!

The number one reason (which isn’t all the swearing, which I am fond of) is this book is based in reality! The mundane, boring, stressful reality in which most of us live. While most self-help books normally rattle off a series of affirmations, this is a values book asks you to think about what you actually give a fuck about.

Despite the title of the book, it's not about being indifferent to the world around you but actually deciding what is and more importantley, want isn’t worth giving a fuck about. There is a misconception that a good life is problem free and full of only wonderful and delightful things.

You see, problems are a constant part of life. Maintaining a healthy diet is a problem that you solve by saying no to junk food and yes to veggies. The problem of not spending enough quality time with your partner is resolved by making Wednesday night ‘date night’. The problems never stop; they are only exchanged or upgraded.

This is a pretty overwhelming concept at first glance. Especially when I feel like we are going from major problem to major problem at the moment! It’s truly exhausting. The silver lining here is that happiness comes from solving problems. If you avoid problems or you don't feel like you have any problems or worse yet, you feel like you can’t solve your problems, it will make you miserable.

“The secret sauce is in the solving of the problems, not in not having problems in the first place.”

In order to be happy we need something to solve, therefore happiness becomes an action, not something that just ‘happens’ to us. It’s a constant work in progress, because solving problems is a constant work in progress. What we should really aim for is having better problems to solve.

If life is a never ending series of problems to solve then we need to be asking ourselves what are we willing to suffer for? What pain do you want in your life? What do you actaullly give a fuck about. You see, the bigger the problem or struggle that is overcome the bigger the insight or lesson. While it may take some time to reflect back on the experience to extract happiness, there is always a silver lining.

“Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through the choosing and managing of our struggles”

While Mark admits that some people's problems are far more serious and dangerous than others, everyone is responsible for their own reaction to them. Say for example you have a shitty job that is totally bringing you down, everyone there sucks and it makes you want to not get out of bed in the morning. You have a choice. You either keep boring your friends and family by complaining about the lameness of your job or you quit and get another job.

It's obviously easier said than done but that’s the whole point! Leaving a job and finding a new one will be a stressful situation and it might not work out as planned but you’ve taken action, you’ve embraced the struggle and that will make you happier in the long run compared to if you stayed at the shitty job. You have to ‘Do Something’.

The ‘Do Something’ principle is simple. If you want to make changes in your life you just have to start by doing something. Anything. Most people commit to action only if there is a certain level of motivation. We feel motivated only when there is enough emotional inspiration.

Emotional Inspiration > Motivation > Desirable action

The problem here is that if you don’t feel inspired or have the motivation then there will be no action. This is why most people never don’t get past the initial idea phase or the ‘wanting’ to do something but never quite getting started.

The thing is that motivation turns the three steps above into a continuous loop.

Inspiration > Motivation > Action > Inspiration > Motivation > Action...

Your actions create more emotional reactions that will motivate you to take more actions. This is how we learn, take my guitar lessons for example. As soon as I learn a new chord, I get excited and want to learn another one and that constant cycle keeps me going.

Knowing what we now know about this motivational loop we can surmise that:

Action > Inspiration > Motivation

This is where the “Do Something” principle comes from. You just have to do something! I use this all the time with work. If I’m looking down the barrel of a big task that feels all too overwhelming I just have to start. I use my ‘Time Timer’ and just do an hour - that's it. And that's a start.

A friend asked the other day how I managed to get this blog out every week as they were struggling to get words on the page for their own writing. My answer was that I just started to write. At 7.30 am every Friday morning I turn off all email/phone/social things, switch on my ‘time timer’ for an hour and I write. I have to remove any expectation of the outcome and just start typing. My suggestion to her was to just start writing. Even if it's just 100 words a day. The key is action. The rest will take care of itself if you keep showing up.

This is my 95th Bulletin Board this week. For 95 weeks in a row I have got to work, set my timer and written 500-1000 words. If you average that out over the last nearly two years I have written 76,000 words. Now that is actually a pretty incredible number for a person who just wanted to get better at writing and share what they were learning. Am I a writer now? Am I a designer that writes or a writer that designs? Mark would argue that it doesn’t fucken matter and we should give ourselves board and forgiving titles.

“We cannot learn anything without first not knowing something. The more we admit we do not know, the more opportunities we gain to learn.”

Video of the Week
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Summarized by the Author
Podcast of the week
Done is better Than Perfect - With Martha, Jule and Lola
Font of the Week
Heading Now: Font of the week by Francesco Canovaro, Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini, Andrea Tartarelli, Mario De Libero

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