Book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k

4/5 stars.

Interesting theory, with a lot of good points, and a fun read. I’m just not sure it’s something that works for me. From reading all examples throughout the book I should come to the conclusion that I already give very few fucks, as I generally don’t have much of a social life (by choice) and have quite infrequent work (outside office hours at least) or family obligations. Yet, my mind is tied up in worry and guilt most of the time.

So I guess I’m doing the physical part of not giving a fuck by say not going to my boyfriend’s friend’s kid’s birthday party, but emotionally/mentally I’m still wasting way too much time and energy on things I shouldn’t be.

While the book does cover “fucks that only concern you”, I still feel like in essence it boils down to: “Don’t want to give a fuck? Don’t.”, which while sound advice is not necessarily that helpful. But then again, this is my own mental block, and just becoming more aware of it and what causes it is also helpful. I think it has helped me in more of a vague way, just by making it clearer to me what I’m wasting my time and energy on (which to me are one and the same by the way, you can’t spend one without the other). And I have noticed that over the last few weeks I’ve been better at prioritising things that are important to me, and feel more fulfilled. So it’s possible there’s a little something working in the background.

Besides the fucks that concern only myself, I do give some fucks I’d rather not to people or to circumstances beyond my control. But I feel like there’s not that much I can do about that.

Example 1: My M-I-L invited us to a high tea to celebrate her birthday (which was a month and a half ago – I thought I dodged that bullet already), which means we’ll have to spend hours each way on public transport on a Sunday, sit for hours in a hotel restaurant and try to not run out of small talk with my in-laws and everybody’s partners and since there’ll be loads of noise and people I – as an HSP and introvert – will be effectively drained of all energy by the time it’s Monday morning and I have to head into the office again. So I’ll spend most of my day on this, have no energy reserve for the week, and will effectively chat with M-I-L for maybe 5 minutes and for the rest of the time try not to look too bored/trapped/fall asleep. But can I say to M-I-L that I have a “personal policy” against high teas? Not really. Not only because she happens to know I enjoy high teas with friends once in a while, but apparently this is important to her and she’d be really sad if I didn’t come. So I have to consider her feelings. And is my insistence on not giving this one fuck worth hurting a sweet old lady’s feelings? Probably not. And I also hurt my SO by extension since he’s a mamas boy (I love him, but he really is). *

Example 2: In the category of work I have decided that I don’t give a fuck about commuting. But, what does that actually mean? I cannot stop commuting, because I have to do that to get to my job. I could find another job – and I probably should – but I’ve so far be unsuccessful in finding something that’s closer to where I live and that I’d actually enjoy doing (more – because I don’t hate everything about my job). So, I still have to commute but I’m not going to give a fuck about it. Which essentially means I’m not going to let the fact that I have to commute bother me. But 1) that’s not easy, and 2) it has a somewhat more limited effect as I do still have to do it, so even if I manage to care less about overstuffed delayed trains full of smelly and loud people, I will still have to actually spend the time on the trains.

I also think I went about this a bit wrong, as I interpreted it as I was supposed to write down all the things that I had in my “mental barn” in relation to for instance “things” – so I wrote down both positive and negative stuff, just everything in my head. I thought the idea was to then choose which ones were important and which not. But despite it saying “things I may or may not give a fuck about” it seems like you’re only supposed to write down things you’d rather not give a fuck about. One enlightening thing that came out of this is that my “work” list was the list where I basically crossed out everything, so work seems to have more negative stuff than other areas of my life. Again, I know I should find another job, it’s just not that easy.

So, if you’re the kind of person who has a full schedule of social and/or work obligations you’re dying to get rid of but you’re too polite/too worried about what people think – this may just be the life-changing magic you need. For me it had some useful tips and ways to think about things, but I don’t anticipate that it will be life-changing. I did still enjoy the read though.

Other useful things I learned from this book is that leaving a party without saying goodbye is apparently called an Irish goodbye. I did this all the time when I was younger, to avoid being guilted into staying longer. I’m (half) Irish. Go figure.

*In fact my trying not to give a fuck about this particular family event, fighting for the principle of “nobody gets anything out of this and all it does is waste my time”, led to kind of a big argument with Boyfriend which means so many more fucks were given to this than if I’d initially just sucked it up and said “fine, I’ll go.”


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Rachel says:

    This definitely sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely worth a read. One of those things where what you get out of it depends on how much you put into it – as I guess are most things in life.


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