In this follow up to his inaugural book; The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Manson dives head first into the failures of modern society to deal with everyday adversities. He explains why humans become weak and soft, even though we are living in the most privileged time in history.
He tackles modern culture and social media. Taking you back to times not so far in the past where adversities were real and deadly, such as the struggle to find enough food to eat. Where the modern day virtue-signallers and keyboard-warriors had no voice, and would have been dead before they had a chance to spout any of their inane rubbish.
Manson writes in detail about the difference between the thinking brain and the feeling brain. The thinking brain being the logical driver who believes it’s in control. The feeling brain being the emotional driver, which is actually in control but doesn’t let the thinking brain know it. The feeling brain happily sits alongside the thinking brain, nudging and manipulating the thinking brain to make the wrong decisions. Or decisions which the feeling brain wants to make, because it makes you feel better in the moment.
Self Control is an Illusion
Every problem of self control is not a problem of information, or discipline, or reason, but rather of emotion. Self control is an emotional problem. Laziness is an emotional problem. Procrastination is an emotional problem. Under achievement is an emotional problem. Impulsiveness is an emotional problem. This sucks, because emotional problems are much harder to deal with than logical ones. There are calculations to help you deal with monthly payments on your car loan. There are no equations to help you end a bad relationship.
The problem is; intellectually understanding how to change your behaviour, doesn’t change your behaviour.
As an example. We know we should not eat highly processed food, drink too many sodas, imbibe in too much alcohol. But many of us continue to do these things anyway, even though we know it isn’t good for us.
It’s not because we don’t know better. It’s because we don’t feel better at that moment.
What is Love
You must love someone without expecting anything in return, otherwise it’s not truly love. You must respect someone without expecting anything in return, otherwise it’s not true respect.
You must treat humanity as a means, and not as an end. As an example; I’m hungry and want a burger. So I go to the restaurant and eat a burger to make me happy. All the things I do to get the burger are the means. Ie, I get into the car, pay for petrol, and drive. Which leads me towards the end; the burger. I don’t want to drive and I don’t want to pay for petrol. But I do want the burger. So you balance the means to get the end.
Mason speaks a lot about the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant’s formula of humanity says: treating any human being, or any consciousness, as a means to some other end, is the basis of all wrong behaviour.
Treat people as you mean to be treated. Do unto others not for self reward, but because it’s the best thing to do for them. Do not treat people as a means to an end. Treat people as an end for what’s best for them, and the means will take care of itself.
Pain is the Universal Constant of Life: The Constant 7 out of 10
No matter how sunny the skies are, our minds will always imagine some clouds.
Life is made up of moments of happiness. No matter how amazing those moments of happiness are, it never lasts, and you always revert to your base level of contentment, which Manson labels “the constant 7”.
Think about the happy moments you’ve had in life. The diversions that take you away from normality. A day at the beach; a holiday to somewhere new; watching a movie with a loved one. During those moments you rank your life happiness as 10 out of 10.
Now think of the lowest moments of pain when you were hurt and felt lost. Those moments if you were to rank them would be between 1-3. But no matter what happens with happiness or pain, you always ultimately revert back to a contentment level of 7.
Moments of happiness will always be there. It is the continued chasing of them which proves futile and makes you feel sad. When they come, enjoy them and treasure them. But don’t chase them or expect them.
Conversely the moments of pain are actually what define you as a person. Because the way you handle and perceive the pain, will determine how you return back to your constant 7.
I’ve recently begun experimenting with a Shakti Mat. When I first lay on the mat, the feeling of pain is intense. Extremely intense. My heart rate rises and after 30 seconds I want to get off and don’t believe I can make it through.I truly do not believe I can stand it any longer, the pain is so intense and burning. But by persevering, after 2-3 minutes the pain has almost completely disappeared. Nothing has changed. Same mat, same needles, same old back. The only thing that has changed is my perception of that pain
This goes for pain of the heart also. It’s your perception of that pain which will determine how fast you recover from it and return to the constant 7. This constant 7 is basically the feeling of being mildly pissed off, but just accepting everything.
The Feelings Economy
What happens when a society switches to being affluent and no longer has to fight to survive? We build a soft culture. A culture of complaint and keyboard-warriors who feel they have the right to comment on anything and everything. Without any forethought to the blessed life we lead, and our ancestors who worked to produce us.
As technological revolutions happened over the last 200 years. As machines reduced the backbreaking work of humans, plying us with comfort and cleanliness and a constant supply of food at our fingertips. We switched from having to fight to survive, towards complaining about anybody who doesn’t think the same as us. Anybody who has a way of thinking or difference of opinion to ours.
Once a country hits first world level. The feelings of wellbeing crash, while feelings of mental despair increase.
These technological innovations have made humanity fragile. Made humans weak and unable to handle even the slightest of struggles.
I simply love Mark Manson. His view of life and the modern world makes his books the first self help books I will recommend. Because nobody else brings perspective and nails the truth about modern society in the same way. Blunt, forthright and honest, without pandering to the whims and weaknesses of today’s woke culture. Humanity needs a kick up the backside, and if everyone would read the two books of Mark Manson and live their lives accordingly, the world would be a far happier and contented place.