This is a long post because it’s something that’s really changed me and that I feel deserves an essay. It’s also another excuse for writing a list, and I love lists. But if you’re short for time, the tl;dr version is at the bottom. Also, there’s lots of swearing in this.
I’m a born fuck-giver. Maybe you are too. As a self-described overachieving perfectionist, I gave my fucks liberally all throughout my childhood and adolescence. […] This was no way to live.”
This could be written by me. I’m an over-thinker. I attribute it to having a stupidly wild imagination, one I’ve been overwhelmed with since I was a little girl. From imagining there were snakes in my bed, to imagining I had a dog for a whole year, to imagining I was actually twins with my sister who’s 21 years older than me… You name it, I imagined it.
Now I’m older though, my imagination also means I overthink everything. My mind skips ten steps ahead in the space of a minute. I have a great example: one morning, I met some friends for brunch. As three of us approached the table where two other friends were sitting, my mind had wandered away from the conversation and was overwhelmed by these thoughts: there are only four chairs at that table and we’re five people and we need another chair but there aren’t any chairs close by and there doesn’t seem to be enough space for four chairs and then it’s going to be really awkward trying to get a chair oh my god.
That can be my mind, a lot of the time. At that speed, with no breaths in between each thought. I’m never in the moment, I’m always thinking ahead. Every thought spirals into the next until I’m a big fat ball of anxious mess. I just think too much about everything and I care too much about everything. I give far too much of my energy to inconsequential things like this. That amount of anxiety and stress is exhausting and really detrimental to my emotional health. And I didn’t really notice how ridiculous that was until I read The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*** by Sarah Knight this summer. So here’s why you should add this book to your Christmas wishlist.
What Sarah Knight’s book does is relatively simple and yet not always obvious for everyone. She draws attention to the different ways people give unnecessary fucks in their life and the different ways this can be avoided. The biggest way she encourages her readers to discern if they’re giving a fuck they shouldn’t is by asking themselves if they feel it’s a reluctant use of their time, money, or energy. If you feel like you’d rather invest your time, money, or energy in something else, and there’s a way of avoiding doing that thing without being a total dick, do it.
This is obvious to a lot of people and I have a lot of respect for these people. But for the people like me, there are a million things on a daily basis that we don’t really want to put any energy into. And yet, we do because we feel we have to for some reason or other! Either that, or we come up with fake reasons for why we can’t do it instead of being honest about it. For me, that list of things was absolutely huge.
How The Book Helped Me
Here’s a small sample of fucks I gave that The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*** helped me realise I just don’t need to give:
- Using chopsticks. I hate them! They stress me out, I look stupid using them, I only end up eating half my food… No more. Knives and forks for me please.
- Dishes with nuts in them. I don’t care how healthy they are or how cool the dish looks/sounds or whether it’s a Nigella recipe. I just don’t like nuts in dishes.
- Finishing books I’m not enjoying. I used to feel bad if I didn’t finish and some weird compulsion would force me on… No more. I’m probably never going to finish Wuthering Heights, not sorry.
- Becoming a yoga bunny. I used to think doing yoga all the time was the way to be – strong, toned, calm zen mind… I just don’t enjoy yoga though! And apart from having some nice stretches and breath patterns, I don’t feel it does much for me.
- Ever watching Game Of Thrones. People keep telling me it’s amazing and that I need to watch it, but I’ve caught a few minutes here and there and just not been gripped. Plus I can’t be bothered to use up that much time watching it.
- Feeling bad about saying “no” to meeting up with people. I used to make excuses about imaginary tasks or appointments to avoid saying “yes”. But just because I’m free doesn’t mean I need to catch up with everyone I know. I also need alone time! I don’t feel bad about just saying “I’m not feeling up to anything right now”.
Why You Shouldn’t Give A Fuck
A lot of these things are small things. But the bad energy expended on them really does add up! Imagine if one day, I force myself to finish a book I’m not enjoying, then I force myself to do a yoga class, then I lie to my friend about why I can’t meet up, then I assure another friend I will watch Game Of Thrones, then I go out for dinner at a sushi place and force myself to use chopsticks… That’s a big day full of bad energy piling up and making me feel shit.
The beauty of the book is how it draws attention to the little things in life we give a fuck about and makes us pause the next time we do. Why do we do it? We’re adults. No one can tell us what to do or like or spend money on. I’m an adult. I have the right to not invest any of my time/energy/money in the things I just don’t give a fuck about – time is precious. And no one’s going to send me to detention if I decide not to use chopsticks. No one’s going to make me write an essay about Game Of Thrones.
I’m much more frugal now about my fucks. I’m so much happier and comfortable with myself because I know which fucks I give and which I don’t – that sort of certainty takes some attitude change and practice. So next time I see there aren’t enough chairs at brunch, I’m just not going to give a fuck. We’ll just sort it out when we get to the table.
tl; dr: 5 Reasons You Should Read The Book Too
1. It helps you refine what you really like.
The book isn’t just about shitting on a whole bunch of things and being negative about stuff. A huge part involves working out what you truly love, just for you. Sarah Knight wants you to read the book so you make more time for those things. It’s also great for anyone going through an identity crisis (as I was) who wants help centring themselves and working out what they love and value in life.
2. It helps you recognise what you might be trying to like just because the world is telling you to.
I definitely got this idea that I should be a constantly zen, vegan diet, juice addicted yogi from an overwhelming amount of Pinterest articles suggesting that was the life. But when I carefully thought about it, I realised that wasn’t what I really wanted to be like. The book makes you question all those fucks you’re giving and realise whether you really want to be giving those fucks in the first place.
3. It’s super practical advice.
It has space for writing down lists and everything! Knight divides the book into different big areas of life we commonly give fucks about (things, work, friends/acquaintances/strangers, family). After each section there’s a space for you to write down a list of all the fucks you give in that department! Once you’ve worked out which ones you DGAF about, she advises you to draw an arrow from each one towards something you now have the time/money/energy to give a fuck about. Concretely writing this all down is super satisfying.
4. The advice doesn’t involve becoming a dickhead.
Being nice is something I really do give a fuck about, so I was a bit worried all this book would try and teach me is how to be more of a dick. But actually it gives you useful tips on how to do more of what you want and less of what you don’t want without being an asshole to anyone!
5. It’s easy to read and it’s FUNNY.
Some self-help books can be dense and long and dry and take forever – not this one. I read it in a day. And even if you don’t think anything of the advice, at least you’ll laugh. A book that makes me laugh is always worth the read for me.
What are the things you’re not going to give a fuck about anymore?
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