This was an odd choice that I randomly grabbed from the bestseller list. The title made me laugh. I didn’t totally hate it and there are a few useful ideas, but overall I found the writer to be an entitled bro whose brand of inspiration did not speak to me.
The first chapter, entitled “Don’t Try” used the life of Charles Bukowski as its example. The central point was that Bukowski was a loser with low expectations, failed for 30 years, then took a chance on a random publisher and finally found success because he knew he was a loser and never tried to be anything else. The “cranky, underachieving white man makes good” narrative came off as tone-deaf to me. This chapter raised some good points about how our relentless pursuit of “fitter, happier, better” makes us perpetually disappointed (especially when social media is thrown in the mix) and how it makes more sense to be willing to get uncomfortable in pursuit of the things that really matter to us. These things are well-said and I agreed with many of them, but they are not new. The clinching sentence of chapter 3 is actually “the joy is in the climb itself.” Didn’t I buy that stitched into a decorative throw pillow on Etsy? It’s all about the journey, man.
The thing that irked me about this book as it went on was that the Manson started out writing in a neutral voice about a general human experience, but his personal experience became more of the focus as the book goes on and it becomes clear he started with perhaps an above-average life. The “not giving a fuck” moments he cites early on are “quitting my day job in finance after only six weeks to start an internet business” and “deciding to sell my possessions and move to South America.” Didn’t relate. Apparently, someone has because this book was successful, but as someone with regular student loans, an increasingly angry right hip, and aging parents who could easily tank their life by making such whimsical decisions, it did make me wary of his advice.
The core of this book’s dumbassery was this: Manson espoused the importance of living according to constructive values, being willing to deconstruct your beliefs, and finding happiness in commitment to one city and one woman but never missed an opportunity to remind us that he had to live in 51 countries before he confronted his internal emptiness and that he had a lot of meaningless sex along the way. Like, so much.
Ultimately this was just some solid advice you could get from your grandpa in a bro-y self-serving candy shell. Totally acceptable if you’re in an airport?