We live in an interesting time. Materially, everything is the best it’s ever been—we are freer, healthier and wealthier than any people in human history. Yet, somehow everything seems to be irreparably and horribly f*cked—the planet is warming, governments are failing, economies are collapsing, and everyone is perpetually offended on Twitter. At this moment in history, when we have access to technology, education and communication our ancestors couldn’t even dream of, so many of us come back to an overriding feeling of hopelessness.
What’s going on? If anyone can put a name to our current malaise and help fix it, it’s Mark Manson. In 2016, Manson published The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, a book that brilliantly gave shape to the ever-present, low-level hum of anxiety that permeates modern living. He showed us that technology had made it too easy to care about the wrong things, that our culture had convinced us that the world owed us something when it didn’t—and worst of all, that our modern and maddening urge to always find happiness only served to make us unhappier. Instead, the “subtle art” of that title turned out to be a bold challenge: to choose your struggle; to narrow and focus and find the pain you want to sustain. The result was a book that became an international phenomenon, selling millions of copies worldwide while becoming the #1 bestseller in 13 different countries.