De keuze van Julie
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Mark Manson, Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope.
“Everything being fucked doesn’t require hope; hope requires everything being fucked.”
“The only thing that can ever truly destroy a dream is to have it come true.”
If you are searching for a self-help book telling you things aren’t as bad as they seem and self- indulgence is key, forget all about it. You’re heading for a disaster. Instead, embrace the pain. Hope is what makes us want to live. Life is not fair, and suffering is part of it. So rather than run away from pain, let us pursue it. Only then we can pick our struggles: which pain is worth fighting for and will make our lives meaningful?
With lots of swearing, counterintuitive wisdom, recipes from old-school philosophers such as Nietzsche and Kant and inspiring life-stories, Mark Manson’s book contrasts refreshingly from the coddling lets-all-feel-good self-help industry and its modern mantras: “follow your dreams”, “think positive”. Fuck that, says Manson. Embrace the pain, the shortcomings, the uncertainty, and rather than despair, learn to live with it. “When we deny ourselves the ability to feel pain for a purpose, we deny ourselves the ability to feel any purpose in our life at all”. With pain comes growth, and an opportunity to find value and meaning.
Manson starts with some existentialist theory. Our whole lives are formed around our desire to avoid the Uncomfortable Truth: that, ultimately, human existence is meaningless. As Manson puts it, imagining himself as a barista leaving messages on customer’s morning cups: “One day, you and everyone you love will die. This is the Uncomfortable Truth of life. We are inconsequential cosmic dust, bumping and milling about a tiny blue speck. We imagine our own importance. We invent our purpose – we are nothing. Enjoy your fucking coffee.”
Manson insists this should not lead to nihilism. He proposes a modern interpretation of history’s great philosophers. He creatively transforms Newton’s three laws of motion into three laws of emotion, referring to the great scientist as “Emo-Newton”. Then, Friedrich Nietzsche. Every religion has one thing in common – it gives a sense of hope and faith to its followers, which in turn divides people’s perception into “good” and “bad”. Nietzsche asks us to look beyond good and evil to accept the uncomfortable truths about life, such as insignificance and death. In Ecce Homo, he calls this embrace-the-void approach “Amor Fati”, which means “love one’s fate.” Once we do that, we can focus on the amazingness of all that’s in front of us now, rather than concerning ourselves with hope. “You must treat humanity never merely as a means, but always as an end in itself”. Immanuel Kant’s formula for humanity underlines what makes us unique in the universe: our consciousness. The problem with hope, says Manson, is that it is transactional. We act now with the hope of receiving something in return. Instead, be a better life. Be virtuous. For no other reason than that is the right thing to do.
Mark Manson illustrates his book with inspiring real-life stories, like the life of WWII-hero Witold Pilecki. True heroism isn’t defined solely by bravery, but by one’s ability to offer hope when hope seems lost. Why are depression and suicides rates so high in developed countries? Ours is a crisis of hope, states Manson. Having unrealistic beliefs about the perfect future is making us mentally ill and self-centered, anxious, and depressed. We lose sight of virtues like courage, honesty, and humility in the pursuit of making our lives more comfortable, easier, and happier. So, Amor Fati, everybody, and embrace the Uncomfortable Truth that everything is, in fact, f*cked!