Imagine a world where you only focused on your own goals, your own needs, your own opinions and what made you happy. Imagine a reality without the fake reality of social media swaying your mood or influencing your decisions. Imagine feeling confident enough in your own intuition that you don’t need to worry about what anyone else thinks, says, or does. Imagine.
The art go giving zero f*cks is just that — an art form. It’s a skill. It takes practice. It takes dedication. But once you master the ability to not give a royal F what other people think, you’ll find a deeper sense of joy than you ever realized you deserved.
Sure, it can sound kind of harsh and borderline aggressive. The concept of giving zero f*cks doesn’t rub everyone the right way. How can you really achieve such a carefree and self-confident state? In a world where everyone is so obsessed with outside approval and social media likes and presenting a manufactured sense of self to the public, is it even realistic to try and stop caring what others think? The short answer: yes, and once you are able to truly give zero f*cks your life will be forever changed for the better.
What Does it Even Mean to Give Zero F*cks?
The first thing we all need to understand is that more often than not, we as human beings are born giving way too many f*cks. We’re born caring far too much about nonsense that we can’t control and worrying about things that are in no way essential to our happiness. Have you ever seen a toddler throw an absolute sh*t fit because you cut her strawberries up too small? Too many f*cks given about the strawberries, and not nearly enough f*cks given about how mommy feels as her child throws her body on the floor of the crowded restaurant. I guess kids are pretty good at giving a lot of f*cks and zero f*cks simultaneously. But the point is, we are born caring too much about aspects of our lives that do not deserve our time or our concerns. And many of us continue to struggle throughout our lives by worrying too much about situations where f*cks do not deserve to be given.
Like we said, the subtle art of giving zero f*cks takes time, practice and patience.
So what exactly does it even mean to give no f*cks? It means to stop caring about what others think of you. It means to stop stressing over things that are out of your control. It means to not dedicate any headspace to minute inconveniences that in no way will impact your overall happiness or your health.
According to Mark Manson, entrepreneur, personal development pro and author of the best-selling self-help book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, we all have a limited amount of f*cks to give in our lives, so the key is to choose them wisely if we want to lead a happy life. Manson argues that living a happy, fulfilling life is not about always turning lemons into lemonade, but learning to accept and deal with lemons. No one is perfect. Life is not perfect. And that’s okay. “Not everybody can be extraordinary — there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault,” Manson writes. He talks about knowing our limitations and accepting them, which will lead to the empowerment, courage and confidence we so desperately seek. It’s a pretty brilliant way to look at life.
Giving Zero F*cks vs. Not Caring — They’re Not the Same Thing
It’s important to note what giving zero f%$ks is NOT. It is not indifference, but rather being comfortable with being different. It’s not doing a bad job at your responsibilities or career. It IS being able to ignore or disregard the trivial nonsense that can distract you from doing your best. It isn’t when you stop caring about anything at all, but rather when you only focus on caring about what really matters. It’s all about not getting distracted by the drama that can take you off your course.
Giving no f*cks is about overcoming adversity, about staring potential failure or disapproval or judgment in the face and saying “F YOU” I’m going to do it anyway because I know it’s the right thing to do.
When you are able to give zero (or at the very least, give fewer) f*cks you’re not giving up on yourself, or removing all desire to care, but rather you’re redirecting your focus away from others, and instead concentrating on yourself. You’re looking inward and thinking about what you really need, and what makes you happy. You’re becoming more self-aware and less aware of the looks or behaviors of others.
Let’s say someone on the street didn’t smile back when you nodded hello. Who cares? You did the polite and friendly thing. Screw them. Or let’s say you were nice enough to hold the door for the woman walking in behind you, and she didn’t acknowledge you or say thank you. Is that annoying and rude? Yes. But is it really worth you being in a crappy mood all day? Absolutely not. Suppose you stayed three hours late at work to finish a project and your boss didn’t give you any credit for that extra effort or the stellar job you did. It’s obviously not fair and it’s really frustrating, but you did your job well, you worked hard, and you should feel good about it. Praise from your boss should not determine how you feel about yourself or the pride you feel in your work. Take the power away from others and stop caring what they think. Focus on yourself; you’ll be way happier in the end.
Giving Zero F*cks is About Starting Small, But Thinking Big
The general idea of not caring what others think and living a more free (free of judgment, free of expectation, free of pressure) life can seem overwhelming to many of us. How do you even begin? Do you just wake up one day and stop caring about the approval of others? Is it really as simple as just flipping a switch and turning off that deeply rooted need for positive reactions from others? Can we really just set ourselves free and live a life that is not driven by the need to please others or conform to society’s norms (which are, inherently, pre-approved)?
To be clear, the art of not giving a f*ck is not really black and white, and the path to get there is not a quick trip or a switch-flipping situation. It’s a process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You have to start somewhere, and generally speaking, starting somewhere small, with baby steps, is a good place to begin. Don’t expect to wake up one day and just not give a crap about what anyone else thinks. We are only human. We seek approval. We like to feel loved and appreciated. We like to feel seen. It’s in our nature and it’s totally normal.
What you can do is to think about what brings you the most joy in your daily life. Think of one activity, responsibility or one person that makes you happy. Maybe it’s a single task at your job. Maybe it’s making the bed in the morning. Maybe it’s a hug from your kids. Maybe it’s sitting on the couch in old sweatpants with greasy hair, eating ice cream straight out of the container while watching crappy TV. Whatever makes you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside, focus on that. Dedicate time and energy to making that happen as often as possible. You’re not doing it for the praise or a pat on the back from anyone else. You’re not doing it to get likes on Instagram. Actually, you’re doing it in spite of what others think.
You’re doing it for you.
If you need some pointers or inspiration, you always have Amy Schumer, who is officially out of f%$ks to give and is a true queen in every sense of the word.
The Benefits of Giving Zero F*cks
Again, giving zero craps is not when you stop caring about anything. It’s when you are able to only care about the things that really matter in your life, and when your drive to be better or change comes from a deep desire to improve yourself based on your own internal goals, not the judgment or actions of others. Author Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, notes that “healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?’” This concept is discussed in Psychology Today, where David Sack M.D. explains, “wanting to be thought of positively isn’t a bad thing. We all need a little awareness of how others view us to keep balanced and attuned to how we affect others. But too much concern about what people think can lead us to value only what others want from us, rather than what we desire and need.” The two most important words here are “too much.” Caring “too much” can end up doing more damage than good, which is why choosing your f*cks wisely and discerningly is crucial. And if you’re able to limit what you stress about and where you distribute your energy, you’ll reap serious rewards for your health, happiness and overall joy in your life.
For starters, the constant need for approval will hold you back. If you ask Ilene Strauss Cohen Ph.D., “needing approval may lead you to reject potential opportunities, because you’re too anxious and believe your performance has to be perfect. It may cause you to fear failing so much that you give up before you start.” She continues to explain that “when others’ acceptance of you impacts how you make decisions about where to spend your time, you lose awareness of what’s important to you, what drives you, and what makes you happy…When you live in line with what you value, your life becomes much simpler and more effortless.”
And then, of course, there are the health hazards of our addiction to social media likes, and our need for approval from others online. You know exactly what we’re talking about — you post a photo or a job update or a quote or an accomplishment or a random rant about something that happened to you at the supermarket, and suddenly people start liking your post. They comment with supportive (or not) messages and with one click of a button they can make your whole day better or ruin your entire mood. It can lift you up or knock you down. And for what? When you think about it, it’s incredibly self-destructive and seriously unhealthy. How can we let social media “friends” — many of whom we barely know! — have such control over how we feel about ourselves?
Consider the benefits of taking the power away from your social media circles. Imagine if you no longer cared what those people liked or gave a thumbs up to, and instead, you just gave yourself a mother freakin’ heart emoji. By doing so, you’ll be in charge of your mood and your attitude. You’ll be in control of how you feel, and how you spend your energy. The power will be yours; only you get to decide what you care about. You’ll have less stress, less anxiety, less disappointment, less self-doubt, and way more confidence.
You’ll focus on true support and love, and the most important kind of love, self-love. If you can spend less time worrying about things that are out of your control or the approval and opinions of others (which should not dictate the opinions you have about yourself) then your new perspective will lead to an improved mood, more confidence, more freedom and lower levels of stress and potential for disappointment. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want?
Self-love and self-approval, which often go hand-in-hand with a disregard for what others think about you, is the best kind of praise. Stop worrying about the haters. They’re not your people. And in a world filled with so much negativity and judgment, we’re officially out of f*cks to give.