In an interview Mark Manson says that “Pretty much everything we think and know about ourselves or the world is likely wrong and that that’s actually a pretty liberating and healthy thing to accept.”
And if you want me to describe his way of thinking with one sentence, that’s it.
But it’s worth digging deeper into his approach to life, his career and writing, to see that he’s not just another self-help guru.
So who is Mark Manson and what does he do?
He’s a former dating coach, a writer, world traveler, entrepreneur and personal development consultant.
He helps people change their lives, and has prevented suicides, saved marriages and encouraged startups.
In an interview for Forbes he says that he got in the self-help business by accident and never really planned becoming this kind of business.
He’s also published books on the subject, his articles appear on some of the biggest sites, has worked with individuals from more than 30 different countries, and lives unconventionally doing what he loves.
He travels the world, meets people, is open to new experiences and keeps learning and shaping his view of life.
Here’s what he shares:
“This is everything I own: A MacBook Pro, an iPad, an unlocked iPhone, seven shirts, two pairs of jeans, two jackets, one coat, one sweater, two pairs of shoes, a suitcase, a backpack, some gym shorts, bathroom stuff, socks and underwear. That’s it. Everything I own can be easily packed into a small suitcase and moved within 30 minutes. There is nothing that I want that I don’t already own. And this is despite owning a six-figure internet business.”
He’s also all about psychology. And that, together with his unique experience, interesting way of thinking, and unusual approach to life, makes a killer combination for a writer.
I read a lot, visit many blogs, and find out many other passionate unconventional people like Mark. But to this day, he’s the only blogger whose stuff I’ve printed out.
That’s because his writing is eye-opening. To me, his words are jaw-dropping. He makes me doubt what reality really looks like and want to dig deeper into the meaning of all areas of life.
Some posts raise hope, others make us feel desperate and out of control. But each thought and idea he presents to us is brilliant in its simplicity and truthfulness.
He unveils many of the lies we tell ourselves and the illusions we live in.
He writes about life, culture, relationships, self-worth, personal development and common problems of today’s lifestyle.
What makes him stand out, though, is that he’s not afraid to come up with titles like Fuck Yes or No and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.
And that says it all. But still, each article is a guide on how to live more freely, make wiser choices and keep moving forward. Plus a lot of psychology and philosophy to play with your mind, make you think and give you examples.
He’s got a lot to say about death, the importance of negative experiences in our life and why we even need more of them, and other stuff we feel uncomfortable to even think about.
Here are the articles I keep coming back to:
And here are some memorable quotes:
1. It’s all just a game that we’re playing, the game is called life. And I don’t mean in the business, climb-the-ladder analogy, but in the fact that ultimately everything that we are and do is just a cosmic interplay between seemingly separate manifestations of consciousness. Most people never realize it’s a game. As a result, they are slaves to the ebbs and flows of what’s played.
But there are people who slowly realize that it’s just a game. Some of these people find out by refusing to play. Some find out by simply stopping and paying attention. Some find out by almost being removed from the game. Some realize it by watching others being removed before their eyes. But in the end, for whatever reason, they realize it’s just a game. And because it’s just a game, they have no reason to be worried or afraid, ever, because it’s just a game. And whoever wins or loses doesn’t matter because it’s just going to start all over again.
2. Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing. That’s pretty obvious. And in order to suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly. And most people try to avoid embarrassing themselves, namely because it sucks.
Great things are, by their very nature, unique and unconventional. Therefore, to achieve them, we must go against the herd mentality. And to do that is scary.
Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it.
3. The less you care about others, the less you care about yourself. I know this may go against every perception you’ve ever had of a self-serving asshole. But people treat people the way they treat themselves. It may not be apparent on the outside, but people who are cruel to the people around them are cruel to themselves.
4. Someone recently emailed me and asked me what I would do if I woke up tomorrow with no money and no friends.
I don’t have a particular answer to that question. I don’t know what I’d do to get money that first day. I know it would be hard and lonely.
But I also know that I would eventually be fine. I would cry and complain and fret and struggle. But I would eventually be fine. Because on a long enough timeline, everything in our lives is eventually lost. Happiness is not preventing those losses. It’s learning to adapt to them.
It’s not the people and objects that fulfill the needs in my life that make me happy. I make me happy. And if those objects were all taken away, while I would mourn their loss, I would find new people and new objects, new activities and new passions, and build a new identity for myself, and live on.
5. Remember that quitting is mostly a mind game. It’s only as big of a deal or as difficult as you make it. The physical effects and withdrawal symptoms aren’t any worse than those of a common cold. The struggle is mental. And if you decide that the struggle is monumental, then it will feel monumental. Conversely, if you decide it’s just a temporary roadblock in your life that you must take a few weeks to overcome, then it will be.
6. So the better question isn’t when you’re going to die. It’s what are you choosing as your vehicle to get there? If everything you do each day brings you closer to death in it’s own unique and subtle way, then what are you choosing to let kill you?
7. And what Bukowski understood more than most was that doing what you love is not always loving what you do. There’s an inherent sacrifice to it. Just like choosing a spouse, it’s not choosing someone who makes you happy all the time, it’s choosing somebody who you want to be with even when they’re pissing you off.
8. Just like few of us experience love at first sight, few will experience passion and meaning at first experience. Like a relationship, we must build it from scratch, piece-by-piece, until after years of brick and sweat, it can stand on its own.
9. “Don’t compare yourself to others.” It’s up there with, “Just be yourself,” and “Act confident,” in terms of how useless it is.
Comparison and the drive for status are innate parts of our nature and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
But what we can change is the basis of those comparisons.
His views may not be what you’re looking for on the Internet. And I respect that.
But I believe that he opens our eyes for the stuff that’s in front of us one way or another, but which we prefer to remain blind for.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.