Q&A with Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***

Mark Manson The Subtle Art of Not Giving AFYou’re in for a treat today. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Manson, the author of the recently released book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

I’ve been following Mark for a while his writings are insightful, wise and unique. I was stoked when he agreed to take the time to be interviewed. For those unfamiliar with his work, Mark is a crazy prolific writer and covers things like habit building, personal development and communication. We talked about his experience with social anxiety, productivity, dating, habits and of course….how to not give a fuck!

Question #1: Your article about not giving a fuck really resonated with me. For people who deal with social anxiety or hangups, what’s one tactic they can use to remind themselves to not give a fuck about how they’re perceived?

A big component of overcoming anxiety is finding something more important than oneself to give a fuck about.

Think about it this way, you may be nervous about entering a roomful of people and being social.

But imagine if your mom had cancer and her life depended on you talking to 10 people. You’d make it happen and the truth is, you would probably stop being nervous because suddenly these people’s perceptions of you and any tiny flaws you have would become so unimportant when compared to the massive importance of your mother’s life.

So essentially stuff like this comes down to priorities. And that’s really what The Subtle Art is all about: priorities and vales and what we choose to find important.

Question #2: You say that we should be vigilant about where and how our fucks are given to. What are a few principles to identify if something/someone is worth giving a fuck about?

I propose in the book that generally, giving a fuck about one’s own emotions and feeling good all the time is a road to self-sabotage and disappointment. The key is to find things that are outside of oneself and things that are more important than oneself to give a fuck about.

For instance, a lot of people (myself included) have often suffered from “writer’s block” where they freak out and obsess and agonize over every word and never publish anything. In my experience, this is because our fucks are misallocated. We’re too caught in being seen as smart or writing something amazing or beautiful or popular.


What has to matter more is the message of what’s being written. Put another way, the way I’ve found to defeat writer’s block is to ask myself, “What needs to be written so badly that my feelings and my embarrassment and whatever criticism comes towards me, none of it matters?” Once I find that topic, everything becomes much easier.

Question #3: It sounds like you got your start in the dating space, for those who feel nervous about socializing, what’s one simple strategy they can use that would improve their dating life?

I have a strategy called “Fuck Yes or No” that people tend to love. It’s the idea that if you’re not ever saying, “Fuck Yes!” about someone you’re with, then you shouldn’t be with them. The vast majority of relationship problems stem from people settling and falling into a grey area where they tolerate a relationship they’re not excited to be in.

Question #4: What’s the #1 small tweak you’ve made in your life that has resulted in massive success?

Something I call “The Do Something Principle.”

The idea is that action isn’t the result of motivation but rather motivation is the result of action.

If I’m having trouble being motivated to do something or finding something I’m passionate or excited about, or just plain procrastinating, I fall back on simply doing something — anything, really — and I find that the necessary inspiration will then flow from that first action.

Question #5: A recurrinFearg theme in your writing is to just “be” (i.e. stop trying to be rich, happy, perfect, etc). For people who want to be better at social skills but convince themselves they have to be “someone they’re not,” what would you advise them?

The biggest thing that helped my social anxiety was when I realized that pretty much everyone is self-conscious and anxious in the exact same situations that I was. I think people with social anxiety tend to create a fantasy in their head where everyone around them is this confident bad ass person and they’re not — when, in fact, the truth is that everyone feels the same nerves and awkwardness around people they don’t know — it’s just most people don’t judge themselves for it. That’s the real culprit: the judging.

Question #6: What is the #1 habit we should ALL be doing everyday?

Questioning our own beliefs.

Constantly ask yourself, “What if I was wrong about this?” and play with the answer.

What would it mean to be wrong? What would it mean if the opposite were true? Just ask yourself and see where it leads, you’ll often surprise yourself.

Question #7: Tell us more about how your book went from blog post to book…

I actually started the book before I wrote the article, but the article was such a huge hit that I adapted its themes and tone into the book. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (the book) is, like I said, essentially about values and how we all choose to find certain things important, and how that affects everything else in our life. The book is about learning how to make that choice, of deciding what really matters in life and what doesn’t, and improving yourself based not on feeling good all the time, but rather adopting problems and struggles in your life that you’re glad and proud to have.

If you enjoyed this interview, then you’d probably love Mark’s new book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***. You can buy it here.

12 thoughts on “Q&A with Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***

  1. Hi Katrina,
    Great hearing from you as usual.
    I particularly like the answer to your first question. If the life of your loved one depended on you being social, you would automatically overcome all fears and get on with it. Great point to remember when in a social setting.
    Thank you.


  2. learned a lot Katrina, that we should allocate our “giving fuck ” wisely.
    it makes me reflect on what always happens to me. for instance, not taking necessary steps towards accomplishing my goals, simply because I give a fuck to distracting squirrels!!

    I really enjoyed, thanks.

  3. Hi Katrina, Thanks for sharing this.

    #3 & 5 resonated with me, particularly as I have found myself back in the dating arena (promising 2nd date tonight!!).
    If I can get those ‘inner voices’ to recite that advice instead of tripping me up, it will be a good night 🙂

  4. The strategy in the 3rd question can be very useful, I will put on my list to use and the 5th really links to me; since the last year I decided to stop trying to be rich, happy, perfect especially trying to be someone I know I’m not – I’m getting good result dealing with anxiety, and found that everyone feel anxious in the same situation I was; Helpful article like always 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Hadi! I’m totally with you, sometimes obsessing over how to be “rich and successful” actually detracts and distracts you from taking action. Good luck and it sounds like you’re making great progress!

  5. I was hit by the gap between what I THINK I give a fuck about (my conscious values) and what I ACTUALLY did in life so far (what I gave priority through my actions). This was a painful realisation. Does Mr. Manson make this distinction in his book? If so, I want to read it.

    1. Hey Ton, yes Mark’s book goes way deeper into these topics. I think you’ll dig it. Yep, actions and decisions really determine the path that our lives take and shows what we truly value. Thanks for your comment!

  6. hi Katrina no 1 and 5 are good for me and it has really opened my eyes
    thanks i would like to read the book hope its available in Kenyan bookshops.

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