This book is kind of a self help book that came across quite different to me. This should not be read and definitely not implemented by those who feel have still not attained a sense of spiritual being. This book holds the power to derail your life completely if understood without a spiritual angle to it. It talks about life, priorities, negative emotions and death!

The-Subtle-Art-of-Not Quite relevant to today’s generation and time when social media is an integral part of our lives and there is abundance of information accessibility. Below is my interpretation of the book –
  • Everyone has their lows. You are Unique – just like everyone else!
    1. You are a loser. Acknowledge it! Bukowski (a drunk hammered man) finally became a successful author because of his comfort with his failure. He knew he was a loser
    2.  You cannot be an important and life changing presence for some without being a joke and embarrassment to others – In times where comparison is as easy as opening the Facebook feed, regular life is boring. The idea of being different (either ends of extremes of the spectrum) is important to us. The point is to understand life throws equal shit at everyone only with a timing difference, it is good not being different but saying fuck it to adversity! 
    3. Feedback loop from hell – thinking about your thoughts. The desire for more positive experience is a negative experience. Paradoxically, acceptance of ones negative experience is a positive experience
  • Emotions & Values 
    1. Dissatisfaction and unease are inherent parts of human nature. This is what makes us evolve, grow, survive – imagine if as a kid you got everything you ever put your hand to, a sense of entitlement/satisfaction would make you believe negatives/ struggles do not exist. It is only when we struggle to get something, we crave for it. When we crave for it, we find means to get that (India did that with their freedom). As we say, need is the mother of invention. That’s how we grow/evolve. 
    2. Emotions are a biological feedback loop. Nothing more! – just as I feel happy after a smooth and traffic free ride on my bike, I’m bound to feel irritated (even hurt) if I see the tire punctured of my bike immediately after. This is only because “Bike riding” is an integral part of my value system. Emotions work simply as a feedback loop on our values  
    3. Metrics and values of people – Pleasure is not the root cause of happiness but an effect. Material success’ correlation with happiness soon approaches zero. We as humans are obsessed with being right (always). It is a part of our value system but there would be high chances you won’t be right for a majority of time. Staying positive is a good thing but admit it when life sucks. Constant positivity is a form of avoidance! 
    4. Some good values (try forming them) – Reality based, Socially constructive, Immediate and Controllable
  • Social Media
    1.  The flood of extreme information has conditioned us to believe that exceptionalism is the new normal. Since we’re average most of the times, the deluge of information drives us to feel insecure and desperate. Think of it statistically. We need to understand that the “peak of happiness” that we see in our social media feed is the “peak” of at least 1000+ people in our feed who just did not post about their “averages” giving us a perception that life is always supposed to be “peak”!
    2. Due to social media, ‘Victimhood Chic’ is in style across all demographic groups. When life gives you lemons, it is all the more easier to put your lemon across as lemonade on Social Media. Media creates a bull whip out of this and no wonder we’re politically more polarized than ever before. No wonder your feed just shows why “Modi is awesome & everyone else is simply anti-national”  or “How Modi has made the country worse than Syria”!
    3.  Giving a fuck about everything all the time is good for “Business” (theirs). The key to good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less (only what’s true and important) – businesses thrive on people caring about a lot of things in life (exposure via social media, articles off the internet). The idea is to get a sense of contentment and acknowledging hard times/ deprivation.
  • So what do we do?
    1. If you give a fuck to petty issues in life, you just need to find a larger fuck worthy purpose – put simply this is just prioritizing what’s important to us and finding a deeper sense of being and filtering out shit from life. We have limited fucks to give. 
    2. Self awareness is onion (try & peel it) – 1st layer understanding WHAT we feel, 2nd layer WHY we feel those emotions, 3rd layer WHY do we consider our personal values
    3. Every step of our lives we’ve been wrong about ourselves, culture, society, others, universe (of course!). This is coz our reference to context changes with environment. That’s how we grow. Keep growing and admitting we could be (we are) wrong!
    4. Be cognizant of the damages of pure certainty. Memories are unreliable and reconstructed. We must challenge our own heart and mind to check if we are on track to the “fuck worthy” purpose we set for ourselves.
    5. You too are going to die irrespective of whether you bought that sweet boat or are living in a gutter. The greatness comes by choosing what you give a fuck about!
    6. With great power comes great responsibility. Now switch the nouns. You are always choosing your responses to external environment. Take responsibility. Fault and responsibility are different 

Random Gyaan on Conditioning –  Russians were overly honest in communication to the point it appeared rude. Coz of living under communism and no economic opportunity, their survival was based on trust. Trust comes from honesty. America presented so much economic opportunity that it became essential to present yourself well, even if it was a fake smile!

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