The backwards law states that the pursuit of positive experiences is itself a negative experience, while the acceptance of negative experiences is itself a positive experience. The more one tries to be happy, the less happy they become.
Negativity is actually the path to positivity. People's assumptions of what they want from life -- positive experiences -- are not actually what they need. Instead, it's the tolerance and acceptance of negative experiences that lead to positive experiences.
Charles Bukowski was a drunk and a lowlife, yet he still achieved success and became a famous writer. Bukowski is a counter-argument to the assumption that success comes from doing everything right.
There are three subtleties of not giving a fuck:
Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent, but being comfortable with being different.
To not give a fuck about adversity, one must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.
Whether we realize it or not, we are always choosing what to give a fuck about.
The central Buddhist doctrine of Dukkha states that life is a form of suffering.
We should let go of resisting loss and pain, they are inevitable.
"The rich suffer because of their riches. The poor suffer because of their poverty. People without a family suffer because they have no family. People with a family suffer because of their family. People who pursue worldly pleasures suffer because of their worldly pleasures. People who abstain from worldly pleasures suffer because of their abstention. This isn’t to say that all suffering is equal. Some suffering is certainly more painful than other suffering. But we all must suffer nonetheless."
Negative emotions, such as anxiety and anger, have evolutionary purposes that help our survival and ignoring them can limit ourselves.
Examine your negative emotions and experiences. They can provide valuable insights into what truly matters to us, and can help us grow and develop.
Consider what pain you are willing to endure in life as it is a greater determinant of how your life turns out.
Happiness is not the only important thing in life. Negative emotions grant us meaning and signal to us that we have challenges that must be overcome.
We do not want to be on a hedonic treadmill, where happiness is like a carrot always dangling in front of us, and we can never truly be satisfied.
Struggles and setbacks are inevitable no matter what your goals are. However, if you find a goal you want to struggle for, a goal you're passionate about, then the struggle will become enjoyable. Think deeply about what this goal is for you.
Your goals need to be clear. Vague ambitions like “be happy” will not push you to success.
Happiness comes from overcoming problems, and choosing the right struggles is the secret to happiness.
Modern life provides infinite opportunities, but we are unhappy because we have too many options, and we burn out trying to be everything to everyone. It is crucial to find what's important to us and focus on those, and don't give a fuck about the rest of the noise.
You should only engage in activities or pursue goals that bring you a sense of excitement and joy. The answer to whether or not to do something should either be “no”, or “fuck, yes”.
Exceptionalism, the belief that you are special and entitled to special treatment, is unhealthy and counterproductive. Social media and consumer culture is fueling exceptionalism.
The author at one point of his life got arrested for selling drugs, which he attributes to his own sense of entitlement.
There are two forms of entitlement: grandiose narcissism, where a person thinks they are better than everyone else and therefore deserve special treatment; and victim narcissism, where a person thinks they are worse than everyone else and therefore deserve special treatment. Both forms of entitlement lead to delusional beliefs about one's place in the world and cause people to become completely self-absorbed.
Accepting the bland and mundane truths of life, such as the fact that the vast majority of our lives will be boring and not noteworthy, is actually healthier than believing in exceptionalism.
Living by the right values is critical for happiness. For example, measuring your own success by comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy value to have. It will lead to disappointment.
Dave Mustaine, the leader of the renowned metal band Megadeth, compared himself to his previous band his entire life. As a result, Dave considered himself a failure, because his previous band is the biggest metal band in music history -- Metallica.
Pleasure is a bad value to live by. Seeking pleasure as the ultimate goal often leads to addiction. Research shows those who value pleasure the most are likely to have anxiety and depression.
Materialism is a bad value to live by. Research shows after our basic needs are met, extra wealth doesn't not improve happiness.
Worthwhile values are based in reality, helpful to society, and have an immediate and controllable effect. Honesty and kindness are examples of good values. Popularity is a bad value because you can't control what other people think about you.
You will be much happier knowing that you are responsible for your life. This will give you the power and motive to better yourself and your circumstances.
Example: Bob's girlfriend dumps him. Bob can choose to be a victim of his circumstances and say, “She's hateful and doesn't understand.” Or he can choose to take responsibility, reflect on why the relationship didn't work, and better himself.
People sometimes don't take responsibility for their lives because they conflate responsibility with fault. Responsibility means taking action to deal with a situation, while fault means being to blame for a situation. For example, if someone gets cancer, it is not their fault, but it is their responsibility to deal with it.
We have the tendency to protect our identity, and it often hurts us.
Artists might refuse to sell their art to the public because it could potentially shatter their identity of being a successful artist. CEOs might not spend enough time with their family because it'd damage their identity of being a career-oriented hard worker.
Buddhism states that our identities are simply arbitrary mental constructs that exist only inside our heads. They are illusions. Once we're able to let go of our identities, we'd live more satisfying lives.
Learn to question your beliefs. There will be times when you think you're correct but you are wrong.
It is hard to admit we are wrong, because our conviction is usually trying to cover up our insecurities. When we realize we are wrong, we discover inconvenient truths about ourselves. Dealing with our insecurities and uncomfortable truths will make you happier in the long run. Repressing them leads to misery.
Example: Alice and Bob are good friends. Alice gets a new friend, Claire. However, Bob tells Alice that Claire is a bad person and not to be friends with her. Bob says this, not because Claire is actually a bad person, but because Bob is insecure about the potential of Alice liking Claire more and spending less time with Bob.
Failure is a necessary component of success. Negative experiences, sacrifice, and uncertainty can lead to positive experiences, growth, prevent entitlement, and avoid unrealistic beliefs.
All successful people failed numerous times before they succeeded.
Taking action leads to motivation, not the other way around. For example, if someone is struggling with social anxiety, they can walk towards the person they want to talk to. Once they take that small step, they will find that they can take more steps towards talking to the person and making a new friend.
Being able to say "no" is crucial in achieving success, managing conflict, setting boundaries, and maintaining healthy relationships.
In healthy relationships, individuals need to be able to say no, express their values, and be willing to disappoint their partners to develop trust.
Couples who never argue may seem happy at first, but in reality, they may lack trust and the ability to handle tough situations together.
There is freedom that comes with committing to a few important things in life. By limiting oneself to a few important values and goals, one can focus on what truly matters and experience a sense of mental freedom to pursue those goals without being distracted by other possibilities.
Romantic relationships can be destructive. Research shows that passionate, high-intensity relationships produce similar effects in the brain as cocaine. Romeo and Julliet is a classic example of a destructive relationship.
Make sure your romantic relationships are not based on distractions. Meaning, you and your partner are not in a relationship to distract from other problems in your lives. Those problems you're avoiding will resurface themselves.
A healthy relationship consists of devotion to each other, consideration of each other's feelings, and providing support when needed.
Do not overstep and provide support when not required. If one person in the relationship aims to solve all the problems for both, then it becomes an unhealthy, one-sided, and controlling relationship.
Humans are the only animals capable of envisioning hypothetical situations. This ability unfortunately brings us the burden of thinking about our own death. Many of us worry about our legacy after death, and thus pursue immortality projects. These projects add a lot of stress, anxiety, and disappointments to our lives.
Be happy and spread joy where you are now. You'll live a more fulfilling and meaningful life if you concentrate on the present.