F for Fig, of course. As in, “not giving a hoot/damn/rap…”… you get it…
It was like any other day. I was probably anxious about the day’s tasks ahead of me as it is. And then, something seemingly minor happened, but it just sapped a lot of energy out of me. Someone I interact with on a regular basis, but who is in no way an important part of my life, decided to make a casual remark that really hurt. You know those comments which are said “in a joke”, which if you feel bad about, they tell you that you’re the one being over-sensitive? And then you’re made to feel bad for not “taking it as a joke”? Yeah, those ones. Reminds me of something I heard once – “Most serious things in life are often said in a joke”. Ergo, a “joke” is not always entirely in jest. And that makes me feel even worse. How do we tell them that it may be funny to you, but not to me. How do we tell them that while I may seem like a tough nut to crack on the outside, guess what? – I have feelings. I mean, who died and made you king of trivializing someone’s feelings? But at that moment, all these witty comebacks don’t reach your tongue. You’re just busy feeling bad. It’s never easy to convey all this to THAT person. You just have to breathe in and breathe out and think of comebacks later for your own amusement. “Next time I’ll say this.” Meh.
In times when I’m upset, over big or small things, I either talk (read: vent) to my inner circle of family and friends, or I read. When a book is too far, the internet can provide some good reading material. So, in an ocean of blogs, I found one by a really cool guy named Mark Manson. I have been following his blog for years. His take on how to handle what life throws at us is refreshing, it’s humbling in a way. Then, one day, he wrote a book! I was eagerly waiting to grab a copy. So that day (when THAT person’s remarks sapped my energy), we were at a book store and my husband surprised me with THE book – “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*” – F for Fig, of course. It was the most wonderful coincidence. I needed it, and the universe sent it to me.
I want to share with you, two simple things, I read in the very first few pages, which were like an epiphany. I’m not going to do a precis of this book, because a precis won’t do justice. But here is something to start you with and make you want to go and read it!
“The key to a good life is not giving a fig about more, it’s giving a fig about less, giving a fig only about what is true and immediate and important”
Bam. Think of it this way – In this lifetime, you have a total of very few figs to really truly give. So please only give a fig about things that actually matter. But what do we do generally? We give a fig about everything. Everything. And when you give figs about too many things, obviously, that’ll sap you of your energy. It’s like driving to places you don’t need to go to, unnecessarily burning your precious fuel. You’re going there just because some co-passenger (THAT meano) has a good joke to tell about it. Instead, listen to the joke from where you are, and then leave from there. Why go through the energy sapping drive to that inconsequential imaginary place in your co-passenger’s head? Wouldn’t you rather drive to a place which makes YOU happy? That which you know is real. Your truth. Think about that. If you stay focused on things that really matter to you, the other inconsequential thoughts won’t occupy your mind space. I know, easier said than done, but worth giving a try.
“The Feedback Loop From Hell”
This is the most awesome part. Mark says, there is this quirk in your brain, which will drive you crazy if you let it. Without paraphrasing his words much, for example – If you’re anxious and the anxiety starts crippling you, you start to wonder why you are getting so anxious. Now you’re anxious about being anxious. More anxiety! OR You’re angry about something small. It messes with your peace. It makes you angry at yourself for being such an angry person. OR you’re so worried about doing the right thing all the time that you become worried about how much you’re worrying. Or when you feel sad and alone so often that it makes you feel even more sad or alone just thinking about it.
Welcome to the Feedback Loop from Hell. A huge contributor to this phenomenon is social media. You are having a really bad day and you log on for some change in mood. But what do you see? Pretty pictures of people being awesome and having the best time. You were already in a sorry state. Now you’re feeling sorry for your sorry state. This wasn’t the case before the days of the world wide web. He paints a picture – “Back in Grandpa’s day, he would feel bad and think to himself, “Gee, whiz, I sure do feel like a cow turd today. But hey, I guess that’s just life. Back to shoveling hay.”” But now, for every time you feel like a cow turd, you’ve got 350 photos of happy cows, in your face. In such a scenario it is almost impossible to feel better. You changed your mood, for the worse.
Then what’s the solution to feeling bad, you ask? – Don’t give so much of a fig about your feelings. You’ll feel bad, but you’ll get over it. Don’t dwell. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Just as you shouldn’t take THAT bully seriously. Just as you shouldn’t take everyone’s happy pics seriously. Give a fig about more important and immediate things like tasks at hand, people who really matter, etc. And for starters, log off and just breathe. Life’s like that. For everyone. You’re not extra special OR extra non-special.
You’ll gain many such perspectives from this gem of a book about modern times. I haven’t even scratched the surface of its contents. I’ve read this book and I keep going back to it. It makes the impossible task of not giving a fig somewhat possible. If you’re intrigued, go get yourself a copy. (Disclaimer: I’m just a fan. This is not a paid article. Mark Manson doesn’t even know who I am….yet.)
© 2020 Aanchal Nithin Prakashan All Rights Reserved.
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I wrote this article for First Moms Club. This article was published on April 12, 2019 on their official website – https://firstmomsclub.in.
First Moms Club is India’s leading community of over 1 lakh urban Indian mothers across 60 countries. FMC aims to encourage the women behind the mothers to find emotional, entrepreneurial and social identity.
Link to this article on the First Moms Club website – https://firstmomsclub.in/the-impossible-task-of-not-giving-a-f/