The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck is a funny, practical guide to mental decluttering, giving you actionable tips to stop caring about things that don’t really matter to you, without feeling ashamed or guilty.
“You keep using profanity in your email subjects!” “This is it for me, I’m unsubscribing.” “You are unprofessional.”
Over the past three months, I’ve heard all of these lines and more from email (un)subscribers. That’s okay. Not only are these people wrong, I’m actually glad they’re unsubscribing. Besides using profanity very rarely and having used a (censored) curse word exactly once in over two years in an email subject line, I like my freedom to curse.
Sometimes a “fuck,” “shit” or “god damn” can make an otherwise weak point strong. Plenty professionals curse. It’s a sign of confidence, if used with the right frequency. If you can’t handle that, you won’t like a lot of other things I do.
You know who else has been told she’s unprofessional? Sarah Knight. Titling a book “The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck” takes guts balls. But it’s a perfect vessel for the message. Her practical parody of Marie Kondo’s mega bestseller The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up helps you to start saying no with no remorse.
Here are my 3 lessons from this fun read:
- You can honestly and respectfully turn people down by generalizing your reasons for doing so.
- Slowly make your way from easy No’s to harder ones.
- If you have to give a fuck when you can’t avoid it, make plans to treat yourself afterwards.
Ready to stop giving a f*ck? Then let’s…ah, I don’t care. Kidding! Let’s go!
Lesson 1: Be honest and respectful when you turn people down by generalizing your cited reasons for doing so.
There are two types of people in the world:
People who love weddings.
People who hate weddings.
I’m type 1, but if you’re type 2, every single wedding invitation tends to hover over your head like a dark rain cloud until you can bring yourself to decline, or force out a fake “yeah, sure, I’d love to.” No more! Admitting you hate weddings and finding the courage to stop going to them will likely make everyone happier, most importantly, you.
But how do you get out of this social obligation forever? Sarah Knight’s solution is called the “Not Sorry Method” and is based on two steps:
Decide you don’t care.
Actually don’t care.
Easier said than done, right? The two most common ways people get out of weddings are:
Brutal honesty, which gets you not just out of the wedding, but out of the entire friendship.
Lying, which often works, but always makes you feel horrible.
Sarah has a great solution that’s right in the middle: Be honest, but generalize your stated reason. For example, you could say to your friend: “I’m sorry, but I never go to weddings. I feel very uncomfortable at them.”
This way, you’ll stay honest, but moderate the heaviness of you turning down this particular event by stating it’s a general rule. Your friend will take your refusal much less personal and you’ll be able to put your feet up on the couch on Saturday night.
Lesson 2: Stop giving easier fucks first, then move to harder ones.
The number of things we don’t care about is huge. They range across all kinds of categories and are not all equally easy to say no to. Sarah Knight sees three classes of increasing difficulty:
Things that don’t affect other people. For example, if you don’t care about making your bed in the morning, you can just stop making it.
Things that affect at least one person. For example, if your friend asks you to help her move, you’ll need a clever excuse to wiggle yourself out of carrying the sofa up to the fifth floor.
Things that affect multiple people and could cause hurt feelings. For example, your annual family gathering requires lots of delicacy to skip and go to a concert instead.
Practice not giving a fuck about a few things from the first category, then slowly make your way to turning down friends and lastly, once you feel ready, take on the big ones. Remember to generalize your excuses to make your decision seem less personal and always be polite and respectful.
Lesson 3: When you can’t avoid something you don’t want to do, plan to give yourself a treat afterwards.
Let’s face it: You won’t get out of every single event you don’t care about. Some meetings you have to attend, some weddings you don’t have an excuse for and some family Thanksgiving dinners are just part of the deal. Whenever that happens, Sarah has a brilliant backup plan up her sleeve: treat yourself.
It’s much easier to pull through an undesirable task when you’re working towards an inbound reward you know will come right after. So plan one!
For example, you could book a massage in advance at the wedding location, plant a cookie at your desk for when you return from that meeting, or stop by a friend’s house on the way home from the family event.
This will balance the fucks you give, but don’t want to and help you return to the wonderful world of saying no.
My personal take-aways
I actually think this would work well as a companion guide to Marie Kondo’s book. The original is about physical decluttering, the parody covers mental decluttering. Both are important and Sarah’s “obscene” sense of humor just adds a fun touch to what’s otherwise a pretty solid psychology read. Unless you feel offended by curse words, but hey, who gives a fuck?