Over the past few years, before he became a household name, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Manson on the Knowledge for Men podcast a total of three times.
Back then, he was still a relatively unknown dating blogger who would occasionally share his counterintuitive wisdom for living a better life.
But today, he’s risen through the ranks and become one of the best-selling personal development authors of all time. His first “real” book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck sold more than 5 million copies (in dozens of languages) and launched his career into the stratosphere, earning him international fame, acclaim, and infamy…and it continues to rest at the top of the best-seller list years after its original publication.
Mark’s philosophies on life, success, and happiness are counter to the current of modern culture and offer a breath of fresh air for those of us tired of reading regurgitated platitudes about how we need to hustle, grind, and focus on nothing except our goals.
And today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite Mark Manson quotes to help you give fewer fucks and live a better life.
If you will let them, these Mark Manson quotes will not only help you live a better life, but they will be a catalyst that causes you to redefine what success and happiness mean to you…and allow you to experience them much sooner than you ever thought possible. Let’s dive in.
10 Mark Manson Quotes that Will Help You Give Fewer F*cks and Live the Good Life
1. Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.
Most of us define ourselves and our lives by the results we want to attain…
The ripped physique, the thriving career, the loving spouse, the international fame and acclaim. But we are quick to forget that these externalities require struggle. Nothing worth achieving comes without a price tag. And the only thing that defines who you are as a man is what you are willing to struggle for.
You are not defined by your ambitions, your goals, your ideas, or your desires. You are only defined by that which you are willing to struggle for. By your willingness to put your ambition to work…to bleed…to suffer…to endure pain and heartbreak in the pursuit of something greater than yourself.
That is the only thing that matters and what defines you as a man.
2. Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it. To try to avoid pain is to give too many fucks about pain. In contrast, if you’re able to not give a fuck about the pain, you become unstoppable
No matter who you are, where you were born, what privilege you have, or what disadvantages you are forced to contend with, you will be forced to experience pain.
To quote the ineffable words of the Meseeks from Rick & Morty, “Existence is pain.”
Everywhere we turn, we are forced to confront it. Whether it is the pain of pursuing a goal, of sacrificing our happiness and contentment in the moment in pursuit of something greater, of exerting Herculean effort and willpower to achieve the impossible…or the pain of languishing in stagnation…of rejecting our calling to a higher purpose…of sedating the bleak realities in our life instead of doing something to fix them…we all experience pain.
It’s inescapable. And what’s more, it should not be something from which we try to escape.
When we accept the pain of existence, when we do as the Navy SEALs admonish us to do and “Embrace the suck”, however, we become unstoppable.
It is only by accepting the inevitability of pain and picking the flavor of shit sandwich we can stomach the most that we gain true power.
Because when you realize that you’re going to experience pain no matter what, you regain the power to select the type of pain you want to experience. You can choose to experience the pain of discipline or the pain of regret…but choose wisely.
3. Our crisis is no longer material; it’s existential, it’s spiritual. We have so much fucking stuff and so many opportunities that we don’t even know what to give a fuck about anymore.
Life in the 21st century is simultaneously easier and harder at the same time.
On one hand, we are privy to unprecedented ease, abundance, and comfort. Survival is all but guaranteed. But on the other, we are forced to contend with more options, confusion, and overwhelm than our forefathers could have imagined in their writings.
The real challenges of the modern world is not material…most of us no longer have to worry about finding food, shelter, and safety…our challenge is esoteric, existential, and spiritual.
In a world where we can be, do, and have everything…we struggle to do anything. With so many options, opportunities, and possibilities, we no longer know what’s worth a damn and what isn’t.
And it’s only by silencing the noise, by listening to our intuition and trusting ourselves that we have any hope of conquering the existential crises in modern life. Find the things that matter to you and pursue them. Forget what society tells you you should do and instead discover what it is you feel you must do.
Because at the end of the day, you can be anything you want, but you can’t be everything you want. Pick your battles wisely and pursue goals that are meaningful to you.
4. The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships. Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.
As men we have been systematically conditioned to be “nice guys”. To keep quiet, mind our own business, and avoid rocking the boat. We avoid confrontation at any costs and are taught to be agreeable to a fault.
But what we fail to realize is that confrontation actually breeds trust and respect.
It takes no courage to be a “yes man”, to go with the flow, and to turn a blind eye when someone violates our boundaries or trust.
But confronting others in a respectful and empathetic way, requires grit and character. It forces us to face our anxieties, fears, and insecurities, and take a stand for our values and beliefs.
And on the other side of those confrontations is a level of trust and camaraderie most men cannot imagine. When the people in your life know that you pull no punches, that you speak your mind, that you aren’t afraid of offending them or stepping on their toes, they will trust you implicitly. You’ll become their most trusted advisor and someone whose opinion they respect more than anyone else’s.
Acting in integrity with your values and speaking your truth will result in the cessation of many relationships. But with the people who really matter, it will add a depth and trust that has all but disappeared in modern life.
5. You cannot be a powerful and life-changing presence to some people without being a joke or embarrassment to others
This is one of my all-time favorite Mark Manson quotes for a simple reason…Most men try to be “liked” by everyone. But they forget the simple fact that you cannot be everything to everyone.
Advice that is life-changing, even life saving for one person will be seen as “woo woo” and laughable by another.
Take, for example, the great Tony Robbins. For every life his work has changed, for every suicide he has prevented, for every relationship he has saved, you will find someone, somewhere who writes him off as a charlatan and embarrassing guru.
And, as uncomfortable as it might be, this is something you must learn to live with.
You cannot be a powerful, grounded, and life changing influence in someone’s life without being a laughing stock in the life of another.
For every person who loves and agrees with you, there will be five to ten more who revile and ridicule you.
But it doesn’t matter. When you speak your truth and live authentically, you will touch the hearts and minds of the right people and the critics will fade away into obscurity.
6. Happiness is like being cool, the harder you try the less it’s going to happen. So stop trying. Start living.
In today’s “ultra spiritual”, yoga enthusiasts and self help junkie world we seem to be obsessed with the attainment of happiness. We spend so much of our time and energy trying to “achieve” happiness through strategic changes in our careers, habits, and lifestyle.
But paradoxically, the harder we try to be happy, the less happy we become.
We become mired in overanalysis and think to ourselves, “I’m happy…but I’m not jumping up and down ecstatically…so something must be wrong.”
The solution, as backward as it might seem, is to stop worrying about happiness altogether. Instead of trying to be happy, commit to living a life you enjoy in the present moment. Eradicate the things you hate, do things you love, and happiness will follow.
7. You, me and everything we do will one day be forgotten. It will be as if we never existed, even though we did. Nobody will care. Just like right now, almost nobody cares what you actually say or do with your life. And this is actually really good news: it means you can get away with a lot of stupid shit and people will forget and forgive you for it. It means that there’s absolutely no reason to not be the person that you want to be. The pain of un-inhibiting yourself will be fleeting and the reward will last a lifetime.
As uncomfortable as it is to accept, you don’t matter. Neither do I. Neither does anyone else who has ever or will ever exist.
Humans have populated the earth for fewer than 200,000 years. Literally less than 0.001% of the time our planet has existed. In a few billion years, our sun will collapse into a supernova and wipe all traces of human existence from the solar system.
Our cultures, our history, our accomplishments…gone. Blown into tiny bits of dust by one of the most epic explosions in the universe.
As grim a prognosis as this may be, when you sit with this fact and contemplate its implications, you will realize that it’s one of the most freeing truths of our lives.
The fact that nothing matters gives you absolute freedom to do, be, and live exactly as you want to.
5,000 years from now, hell 500 years from now, no one will give a shit what college you went to, what your job title was, or how many of your abs were visible in the summer of 2020. None of it will matter. And when you accept this fact, you are free to live the life you want to live.
8. When it comes down to it, if you feel crappy it’s because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved. In other words, negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, it’s because you’re supposed to do something. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are rewards for taking the proper action. When you feel them, life seems simple and there is nothing else to do but enjoy it.
In our modern lives, we have the tendency to view chronic negative emotions as some sort of disease or mental illness that can be “cured” by taking some pill or talking to a shrink.
But we forget that our emotions are not haphazard. Like a warning light on a car, they are there to inform us when something in our life isn’t working.
Depression, anxiety, fear, and frustration are not “bad” things. They are simply mental “warning lights” that something in our life is misaligned with how it should be.
When we attempt to sedate these emotions and run from them by taking drugs or selling our souls to the gods of entertainment and distraction, we deprive ourselves of the ability to resolve them.
You are experiencing negative emotions for a reason. And it is only by addressing the underlying cause of these emotions that you can eradicate them from your life.
Learn to view these emotions as teachers, as guides in your journey. Sit with them, don’t run from them and every facet of your life will improve as a result.
9. Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness, and depression. It is the source of all misery and the cause of all addiction.
Almost all suffering is, at its core, caused by an inescapable sense of hopelessness.
It is only possible to experience anxiety and depression when you have resigned yourself to the belief that you can do nothing to solve the problems plaguing you.
You feel depressed about your body because you do not believe you are capable of making a change.
You feel anxious about your bank account because you lack the self-confidence to believe you can dig your way out of debt and overcome the hurdles along the path.
Hopelessness is the cause of most human suffering.
And when you realize that there is hope, that you can change and that the path to transformation has already been paved by millions of men and women who have come before you, the suffering will lessen.
10. Freedom itself demands discomfort.
To achieve freedom in your life, whatever form it takes, you must experience discomfort.
You cannot achieve physical freedom, the ability to live a long and healthy life, free of disease, and empowered to enjoy the activities and pursuits you desire, without experiencing the discomfort of consistently training your body, avoiding foods that damage your health (no matter how good they taste), and abstaining from destructive substances.
You cannot achieve financial freedom, the ability to travel, buy back your time, and “pay away” your problems without experiencing the discomfort of long workdays, disciplined spending, and delayed gratification.
You cannot achieve romantic and social freedom, having a tribe of close friends and allies, lovers who respect and admire you and fulfilling relationships without experiencing the discomfort of rejection, breakups, and awkward interactions.
Freedom demands discomfort. It demands discipline. It demands that you intentionally give up other freedoms to achieve the types of freedom you want.
Everything in life is a trade-off, and until you accept this fact, you will never have the freedom you ultimately desire.
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