• Toby Sinclair

Book Summary: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

3 Big Ideas:

  1. We have so much fucking stuff that we don’t know what to give a fuck about anymore. You need to find what to give a fuck about. You must give a fuck about something.

  2. Understanding your personal values the most important challenge we all face to lead a better, happier life. “Self-improvement” is really about: prioritising better values, choosing better things to give a fuck about.

  3. Choosing to say no, to reduce options, and living with less, can lead to a happier life. This goes against our consumer, have it all, culture.


  1. “Our values determine the metrics by which we measure ourselves and everyone else.”

  2. “What are the values that you prioritise above everything else, and that therefore influence your decision-making more than anything else?”

1 Takeaway:

Happiness = Increase awareness of your personal values and lead a life in alignment with them

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Big Ideas Expanded:

Self Awareness Onion:

  1. Recognising Emotions

  2. Understanding why we are feeling a certain way

  3. Personal values: Why do I consider this to be success/failure? How am I choosing to measure myself? By what standard am I judging myself and everyone around me?

Good values are:

  1. Reality-based

  2. Socially constructive

  3. Immediate and controllable.

Value Examples:

  1. Honesty is a good value because it’s something you have complete control over

  2. Popularity, is a bad value.

  3. Value: Honesty – Metric: Express myself honestly to others

Healthy values:

  1. honesty

  2. vulnerability

  3. standing up for oneself

  4. standing up for others

  5. self-respect

  6. curiosity

  7. charity

  8. humility

  9. creativity

Questions to drive self-awareness:

  1. What if I’m wrong?

  2. What would it mean if I were wrong?

  3. Would being wrong create a better or a worse problem than my current problem, for both myself and others?

  1. Backwards law: the more you try to be certain about something, the more uncertain and insecure you will feel.

  2. Until we change how we view ourselves, what we believe we are and are not, we cannot overcome our avoidance and anxiety. We cannot change

  3. If you lack the motivation to make an important change in your life, do something—anything, really—and then harness the reaction to that action as a way to begin motivating yourself. (Same message in Tiny Habits)

  4. Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief

  5. We are defined by what we choose to reject.

  6. Commitment gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most efficient at making you healthy and happy.

  7. Consumer culture is very good at making us want more, more, more. Underneath all the hype and marketing is the implication that more is always better.Make more money, visit more countries, have more experiences, be with more women. But more is not always better. In fact, the opposite is true. We are actually often happier with less.

  8. Much of the advice out there operates at a shallow level of simply trying to make people feel good in the short term, while the real long-term problems never get solved.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

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©2020 by Toby Sinclair.