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  • Writer's pictureRaveena Kay

Millenials we need to stop giving a #@%! Here is how

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

In one day I immersed myself in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%!: A counterintuitive approach to living a good life by Mark Manson. It was fantastic. Hilarious. Refreshing. I read it and suddenly the statistics of why the mental health in our generation as millennials has skyrocketed makes sense, and basically it’s because we give too many fucks. So this is how we stop giving a #@%! and start becoming happier individuals:

“Don’t try”. He talks about how giving a fuck is bad for our mental health because it causes us to become “overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction. The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is TRUE, IMMEDIATE AND IMPORTANT".

He then completely demolishes all these “How to be happy” articles by stating a very interesting paradox:

"The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. The acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience”

Happiness is a problem. Usually I like to think of happiness not as a state but as mood; however, he had a different approach towards this concept of happiness:

Biologically we are programmed to suffer. Suffering inspires change. As he states “we have evolved to have always lived with a certain degree of dissatisfaction and insecurity”. Innovation THRIVES due to our ability to understand “suffering”. Think about it. Some of the best products sell-out because children “suffer” from boredom, humans “suffer” from lack of social connection.

He continues to explain how psychological pain is healthy and necessary and how “the emotional pain of rejection or failure teaches us how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future”. Yet our generation tries to “disconnect” and separate our pain from the reality of the world around us through social media.

We have been “coddled” from the discomforts of life and are striving for an unattainable future of “everlasting happiness and eternal compassion”. But in reality “life is essentially an endless series of problems…don’t hope for a life without problems, hope for a life full of good problems”

“When we force ourselves to stay positive at all times we deny the existence of our life’s problems. And when we deny our problems, we rob ourselves of the chance to solve them and generate happiness”.

So how do we “solve happiness”. Mark Manson suggests that happiness comes from SOLVING problems. “Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed upon you…it is a constant work in progress…TRUE HAPPINESS occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving”.

Another interesting concept about this book was the “hedonic treadmill”: “the idea the we’re always working hard to change our life situation, but we actually never feel very different…The person you marry is the person you fight with, the house you buy is the house you repair…everything comes with an inherent sacrifice because WHAT MAKES US FEEL GOOD WILL ALSO INEVITABLY MAKE US FEEL BAD”.

Probably one of my favorite concepts in this book was to “choose your struggle”: What pain do you want in your life, what are you willing to struggle for? Happiness requires struggling. He states “people want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections…it’s part of the game of love. YOU CAN’T WIN IF YOU DON’T PLAY”.

You are not special. Millennials, we have been raised to be entitled and it was due to a 1960s movement in the Psychology field of developing high self-esteem, having positive thoughts and feeling good about yourself. Policy makers felt that raising a population’s self-esteem could lead to social benefits such as lower crime rates and better academic records. So schools began to inflate grades, kids were given trophies for everything and told they were unique. Adversity and failure are some of the best experiences to develop strong-minded and successful adults. (So true, I have learned more about myself through my failures than my successes). Not understanding our flaws and feeling entitled towards our self-awareness makes us “exude a delusional degree of self-confidence”, that results in OUR GENERATION NEEDING TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT OURSELVES ALL THE TIME. We have then created a narcissistic bubble where people feel superior due to their entitled sense of self.

Our generation feel like we need to be extraordinary. Our generation feels that “EXCEPTIONALISM IS THE NEW NORMAL”. Technology such as Facebook and Instagram has “solved old economic problems by giving us new psychological ones”. But how do these rare people become truly exceptional?—They become amazing because they are obsessed with self-improvement. . And that comes from an “unerring belief that they are, in fact, not that great at all”. They develop a sense of ANTI- entitlement.

What is self-improvement? Well it’s about prioritizing better values and choosing better things to care about…”Because when you give better fucks, you get better problems, and when you get better problems, you get a better life”.

We need to start taking responsibility:

“We are responsible for experiences that aren’t our faults all the time. This is part of life. Fault is past tense. Responsibility is present tense. Fault results from choices that have already been made. Responsibility results from the choices you are currently making”.

This correlates with my idea that: “You can control where your ship is going, but you can’t control the storm”. Shit is going to happen; maybe your family is toxic, you acquire a mental illness, your school has gangs, you were abused, a loved one died at a young age. You were dealt bad cards, maybe worse cards than people around you, but in poker even the bad cards can win the pot. It’s all about how you play the cards. You can decide how you deal with adversity. My favorite story is of a mother who lost her 6 year old daughter in the Sandy Hook Shooting. She ultimately used her daughter’s death as a platform to increase gun safety in her community.

We need to stop being afraid of failure/adversity and understand pain is part of the process. As babies/toddlers we naturally are ok with failure by learning how to crawl and walk. We do not give up on learning how to walk after falling down multiple times. However because of our education system, overbearing/critical parents, and media showing people's stellar success, we begin to be programmed to fear failure.

Pain will make you stronger, more resilient, and more humble-- it will make you grow psychologically and increase emotional resilience. "Hitting rock bottom" or "having an existential crisis" is normal and helpful. Having that moment where what you thought would bring you happiness ends up being the complete opposite of what you imagined-- will ultimately either help you rethink about your values, or help you to choose a different path. Many people do not want to sit and feel the pain that they're in....instead they want to numb the pain and find the quickest "fix" to start to feel good.

We need to just start "doing something". Feeling unmotivated? Starting doing something/anything. The act of doing something will eventually help you to become motivated.

Absolute freedom by itself means nothing.

"Freedom grants the opportunity for greater meaning, but by itself there is nothing necessarily meaningful about it. Ultimately, the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one's life is through a rejection of alternatives, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief, or one person".

I've seen this with many friends. People who have so many choices and options presented to them, will never be completely happy with themselves because they don't commit.

The author talks about how he spent a few years traveling the world and now he lives in NY with a wife and a house, which is nothing too exciting; YET, he likes it that way because: "as with more excesses in life, you have to drown yourself in them to realize that they don't make you happy". He drowned himself in traveling and began to understand that while all of his experiences were exciting and great, few would have a lasting significance. He realized his friends back home were settling down into marriages, buying homes, and giving their time to interesting companies, political causes...while he was "floundering from one high to the next".

However, his traveling wasn't ALL insignificant. He realized in Russia that America has "such an abundance of economic opportunity, so much so that it has become far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it is false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression. Knowing a lot of people superficially was more beneficial than knowing a few people closely".

We need to start rejecting. "To truly appreciate something, you must confine yourself to it. There's a certain level of joy and meaning that you reach in life only when you've spent decades investing in a single relationship, craft, career. And you cannot achieve those decades of investment without rejecting the alternatives.... We all must give a fuck about something, in order to value something, and to value something, we must reject what is not that something."

Freedom through commitment/the paradox of choice. Our generation HATES commitment, and that's a problem. It might be because we have so many options, so many people to choose from, so many places to visit, so many careers to choose from.

This is a paradox of choice- "you'll likely spend years agonizing, doubting, second-guessing yourself, wondering if you made the "right" choice, and if you're truly maximizing your happiness...this anxiety and desire for certainty and perfection and success will make you unhappy".

He also makes an interesting philosophical point: "Investing deeply in one person, one place, one job, one activity may deny you the breadth of experience, but pursuing a breadth of experiences denies us the opportunity to experiences the rewards of the depth of one experience-- there is freedom and liberation in commitment. Commitment gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most efficient at making you happy and healthy. It makes decision-making easier and removes any fear of missing out (FOMO); knowing that what you have is good enough. It allows you to focus intently on a few highly important goals and achieve a greater degree of success than you otherwise would".

So, at some point in your life, you will need to start to commit and experience the depth of one choice towards a relationship, career, and lifestyle. You will need figure out "what you're willing to struggle for". You will need to stop being afraid of failure/adversity. You will need to realize you're not special and continue to improve yourself. You will need to start taking responsibility for the choices you are currently making. You will need to stop giving a #@%! about the everything and start giving a #@%! about a few things that matter.


Raveena Kay

About the author: Raveena Kay was born and raised in a Chicago-land suburb and currently resides in Chicago. Dog-lover, occupational therapist, entrepreneur, and now novice blogger, she hopes through humor, insight, and research her blogs will foster better relationships between people, improve one’s self, and increase one’s mental strength.

Through her background in psychology, sociology, and occupational therapy she hopes to inspire others to think critically about social issues and create more social activists.

She will also use her own Punjabi-American upbringing as well as her experiences throughout her child/adulthood to hopefully reach a wide array of people who are dealing with mental health issues, family issues, identity crises, or personality hindrances in order to create a more introspective community.

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