An unorthodox self-help book. I usually don’t read this type of books, but this one caught my eye. The good thing about this book (and for some, also the worst thing) is it focus on one thing only. You guessed it: saying fuck it to all the things that don’t matter. Although the book’s premise may sound as obvious, it’s not. I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like self-help books. Say “Fuck it”, and give it a try.
Author: John C. Parkin.
Date Finished: 27/10/2013
Here’s a link to the Amazon page.
The Keys to Liberation
The keys to liberation are universal and essentially simple: disengage from all the stories you’ve been telling yourself about life and who you are or should be as you negotiate your way through, and all at once you know yourself as divine, all-powerful, unstoppable and magnificent, as any divine, all-powerful, unstoppable being would.
To do this requires a willingness to relax and let go, not just once but again and again, because the part of your mind that’s addicted to and identifies with those stories is a wily fox and will fight for its habit at every turn.
To let go requires a command given to your mind, one that the mind can identify with and which elicits a spontaneous sense of freedom. And what better command than Fuck It, for in the instant of uttering these profanely eloquent words you are at one with every rebel who ever lived, with all the world’s great liberators, with every maverick who ever bucked the trend – you are free – and in your freedom you are naturally magnificent.
Saying Fuck It
When you say Fuck It, you let go of your hold on something – usually something that’s causing you pain.
When you say Fuck It, you give in to the flow of life – you stop doing what you don’t want to do, you finally do what you’ve always wanted to do, and you stop listening to people and listen to yourself.
Life is made up for us of things that matter. Our value system is simply the things in the world that we’ve chosen to matter to us (or been handed by ‘conditioning’). And the things that matter to us are the things that we take seriously.
When we say Fuck It (and we usually do say it when the things that matter have gone tits-up), we recognize that the thing that mattered to us doesn’t matter so much. In other words – through whatever unfortunate circumstance – we stop taking.
Seriously something that we usually take very seriously. Things mattering is seriousness. Things not mattering is the land of laughter and lightness.
When we say Fuck It to things that are really getting to us (the things that are mattering too much), we do carry out a spiritual act. Fuck It is the perfect Western expression of the Eastern spiritual ideas of letting go, giving up and relaxing our hold on things (attachments).
Why We Say Fuck It
When the things that we thought mattered to us start to give us pain, we can get to the point where we say Fuck It. This is when we stop doing them and do something more fun instead.
In fact, we say Fuck It whenever we give up anything that is causing us some pain. We may say Fuck It and give up being someone we don’t want to be. We may say Fuck It and simply give up caring about something we thought we should care about.
At the core of any Fuck It utterance is our relation to meaning in our lives. The truth is, our lives are too meaning-full. Which is a nice cosmic joke.
We tend to think our life’s struggle is to find meaning: we want to find meaningful things to do; we worry about the real meaning of life; we worry about the meaningless. Yet it’s the accumulation of meanings that causes the very pain that we end up having to say Fuck It to.
We create a life of things that have meaning for us: things that matter. Or you could say that these things are our values: they are the things that we value in life.
Everything in society confirms that things should matter … so we never question it. But as we move through life, the list just gets longer and longer.
Meaning is Pain
Anything that has meaning for us – anything that matters – carries the potential to cause us pain. Meaning is a brightly coloured box with pain inside. And sometimes – without us wanting it to – the lid just bursts open and the pain comes pouring out. The problem is that meaning – things mattering – is attachment. And anything that we’re attached to has the potential to turn round and bite us.
Meaning in whatever form is attachment. And attachment carries some form of tension. When meaning goes, the attachment goes. And so does the tension.
Perspective teaches us about meaning.
You might remember this from a Bond movie, or maybe from one of those magazines that told us how life would be in the future (and of course, it never has been): picture a man standing upright, holding on to two bars, then taking off and flying around. Jet propulsion for one person.You pull back a lever, open the throttle and you’re 100 feet up. Let’s call this your Perspective Machine.
We are wandering through the woods of life, looking at the trees. And the trees are all the things that matter to us. Some we like the look of and we take care of … others fall down right in front of us. Some even fall on us. Because things sometimes go seriously wrong. Terrible things do happen to us, or around us. Someone close to us dies; we’re involved in an accident; we find out we have a serious illness, and so on.
When these things happen, the Perspective Machine goes flying up through the trees into the sky. And all the things that mattered so much to us, we can hardly see from up here.
Hanging up there in the Perspective Machine, you can still see the trees down below but they’re now so much smaller. And now that you can see all of the woods and the fields around, you realize those trees are pretty insignificant.
Anything that sends our Perspective Machines up into the air – from personal tragedy to world tragedy, to seeing something that really makes us think – is just like saying a big Fuck It to all the normal concerns in our lives:
‘Fuck It, what was I worrying about?’
‘Fuck It, I need to really live and stop getting stuck in these little things.’
‘Fuck It, I’m going to help people and make a difference.’
When a life crashes, you – and those around you – know about it. It’s not a lesson in perspective. It’s not a lesson in anything. It’s just a deep, dark void of despair. It’s when people think they’re hitting rock-bottom and they just keep going.
Say Fuck It to Food
Food is a problem for the developed world. (And, of course, lack of food is a bigger problem for the developing world, but …) If we’re not battling with weight issues, we’re struggling to eat the right things: with myriad intolerances and allergies and with different advice coming from every direction.
Fuck It is about accepting things just as they are. So what would it feel like to start accepting how you are around food? The battle tends to be around eating the wrong things or too much, and then feeling terrible about it. So when you next pig out, have a go at not beating yourself up about it. Say, ‘Fuck It, I always do this, no matter how hard I try, so I might as well accept this part of me.’
Even at the moment of choice. The moment when you’re feeling down and you’re going through the battle of whether to break your diet and the promises to yourself … just take the pressure off yourself. Say Fuck It and either eat it and accept that or don’t eat it and just get on with life. But don’t make it such a big thing. Stop making food such a big thing. If you’ve lost your job and your girlfriend’s dumped you, then have a frickin’ chocolate bar. In fact, get a cab down to the Mars factory in Slough and do the tour where you can scoop up fistfuls of Maltesers and stuff them into your mouth, or put away whole Mars Bars that haven’t even had time to cool.
You’ll feel better. And feeling better is good.
Fuck It, and stop making food such a big thing.
So, first of all, accept things as they are: maybe you’re a little chubby, maybe you’re a complete porker, but accept yourself as you are. At least for a few minutes … then go back to the self-loathing until you can build up the accepting bit to more minutes. But have a go.
Accept your eating habits as they are. You know that eating for you is just a merry-goound. It seems you have no control in the end. And after a patch of eating less, you lose it and eat a whole shelf-full of biscuits
It’s also worth accepting that – to one degree or another, and like every other human being walking this earth – you’re fucked up. You have emotional problems, anxiety, neuroses, fears, low self-confidence … Whatever it is, you ain’t too happy with yourself and life and you’re eating to feel better.
Most of us do it. Most of us won’t admit it. But look at that word – most – you’re not alone in this. So you’re fucked up … yes, you’re human.
All this acceptance will have the definite effect of relaxing you.
Say Fuck It to your diet. And Fuck It when the voices start coming up. How about saying Fuck It and eating what you really fancy for your next meal? Say Fuck It afterwards when you start to feel bad. And go with it and see what happens. If you put on a bit of weight, say Fuck It.
My bet is that without so much tension around ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods you may well start to want to eat some of the foods that you thought were ‘good’ but were so painful to eat. You’ll find that you actually like eating these foods. But don’t start thinking they’re ‘good’, just eat what you want and see what happens.
So Fuck your diet and start saying Fuck It: Accept how things are and how you are because everything is OK like it is – let food and your body shape matter less to you. And observe what all these zen dudes have been monking on about for so long: that when you lose your desire for something, that’s the moment when you start to get it.
Say Fuck It in Your Relationships
In a relationship we are deeply attached to success, and immensely pained by failure. Because everything in a relationship matters so much, the potential for pain is enormous. And many of us do live out the fairly constant pain of our relationship(s).
In love we want a lot. We want all the attention. We want it to last forever. We want it to be perfect. And we throw everything we have into these desires.
This is attachment and dependency. And this is a very obvious and large potential for pain.
Think of a relationship where you were deeply in love with someone: smitten by them (and this may well be your present relationship, of course). Remember what it felt like to be attached to them: loving their attention and looks … waiting for their calls … cherishing time with them above everything else. And remember the flip side, too: getting anxious wondering whether they loved you as much … getting jealous easily … getting frustrated with yourself for being so dependent on someone.
Now imagine in that relationship what it would have been like to have taken things a little less seriously. Imagine if you’d not taken things so personally. Imagine if you hadn’t worried about whether it would last forever. Imagine hanging on less to the relationship and letting the other person breathe. Imagine them mattering a tad less to you. Imagine that ‘you’ weren’t at stake in the relationship.
And here’s the strange thing: it doesn’t mean that you love this person any less. In fact, this may be where definitions of love start to strain at the leash. Because the clingy, attaching romantic love that we and everything in our society supports as ‘love’ can transform into another kind of ‘love’ when we stop clinging.
It’s an unexpected outcome, but when there is less meaning, the love seems to increase.
Part of the reason for this, of course, is due to tension and relaxation. When you are attached and dependent, there is enormous tension in the relationship. There is no room for anything to move. As soon as something shifts, things start to snap, like a very tight spring just snapping.
When you relax everything – when you relax out of your attachment and investment in the relationship – there is more space and room. And just as chi flows more readily in a relaxed body, the love flows more readily in a relaxed relationship.
So if you’re scared of your man/woman running off with someone else – Fuck It – there’s plenty of men/women for you out there.
Whatever stage of your relationship you’re in, poke your head out for a mo’ and see what it’s like when you feel that things don’t quite matter as much. Feel the relaxation. Feel the freedom. Then carry on with your life and see what happens.
Say Fuck It to Illness and Disease
In the holistic world of medicine, there is an attachment to wholeness and wellness: an aim for completeness that mirrors the spiritual path of, say, a yogi who aims for spiritual ‘union’.
And that’s how it is.
You know what? It’s tiring and it’s boring. Just like any attachment to anything is eventually tiring and boring. It’s tiring and boring to wander from one therapy to another achieving different levels of success.
Some people get so tired and bored with trying everything and spending lots of money and investing so much energy that they simply give up. They say one big Fuck It and finally give up wanting to be whole and well and perfect. They’re still feeling pain and discomfort like they always did and they just say Fuck It and give in to it. Nothing makes any difference anyway, so why should they go through the added pain of hoping it’s going to go away?
They give in fully to their condition. They surrender completely to their pain. They give up wanting to be any different from how they are, just as they are, now. They probably start eating things they haven’t eaten for a while, they may start drinking and smoking again. What they certainly do is RELAX. The one thing you’ll always do when you really say Fuck It is relax.
And you know what happens? Maybe not straight away. Maybe not for a little while. But they tend to get better. This takes them by surprise, because they’d given up needing it. But they get fully better and achieve what they’d always wanted. Only they’re genuinely not bothered about their health anymore, so it doesn’t matter that much now – even now they’re suddenly in full health.
When you care less – or maybe not at all – it doesn’t mean you necessarily stop eating well or exercising or meditating or even having acupuncture: but the desperation and investment in doing these things disappear.
Problems can’t exist in the face of total relaxation. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual problems have nothing to stick to in the face of total relaxation.
I knew this. I practised the methods to a high level. And yet very little changed. Why? Because I still had aims, attachments and myriad meanings. And these are all basically tension. The bummer is this: if you want health and you use even the best relaxation method to try to get it, your very wanting of that health is a tension that the method is unlikely to be able to break down. So the most advanced relaxation method you’ll ever find is not caring and not wanting … saying Fuck It.
Give up wanting anything. And everything will come. (But of course you can’t want that!)
Say Fuck It to Money
In our world of meaning, money means a lot. This is of course not true for everyone, but generally:
- if we don’t have much, we wish we had some and that all our money worries would go away
- if we have a moderate amount of money, enough not to worry about bills and paying for holidays, we dream of having more, being able to drive a better car or live in a bigger house
- if we are wealthy, we still tend to want more, to be financially independent, or to have a holiday home in a foreign land
- if we are stinking rich, we tend to worry that we could lose it in the next crash.
Money is just an abstract means of exchange, after all. It’s the messenger boy in the exchange deal between you and the world. And you know what they say about the messenger: don’t kill him. This is simply about exchange. If what you have to offer is worth enough to other people, then they’ll give you lots of things in return.
When you work (or whatever you normally do for money), imagine that you’re simply offering something of value to the world, and the world values this and gives you something for it. The world values what you do by paying your bills, buying your clothes, taking you out for dinner, sending you on holiday, and turning up at your house with a new car.
You are simply in a constant process of exchange for value with the world. The more the world values what you do and what you are giving, the more it will give back.
What tends to happen is that the more you value yourself, the more the rest of the world will tend to agree and value you as well.
So start by valuing yourself.
Enjoy the process of exchange: whether big or small. If you’re happy to be humble and self-contained, enjoy the small things that the world brings you for the things that you offer.
If you want to go out and really offer something amazing to the world, lap up the attention and value what you’re given in return. Don’t be resentful of those who are being given a lot for what they’re offering to the world. Enjoy it: enjoy that the world is generous enough to give to those it values.
And don’t put any limits on what you think the world should give you.
Any attachment around money is – of course – tension. Attachment to getting more, or attachment to keeping what you have. It’s all tension.
Saying Fuck It to money releases that tension and leaves just softness and relaxation. And, as we’re seeing in other areas, when there’s relaxation things flow. It’s the same with the value exchange we call money. When we relax our hold on money, things tend to flow more naturally. That means that things tend to flow naturally in both directions. If you stop being so uptight about losing money, then you may well start to spend more, invest more and be more generous. And this gets the flow going. You will tend to find that more money then starts to come your way.
I like this theory of money: keeping money in circulation.
Say Fuck It to Being a Peaceful Person
Every emotion I feel is absolutely okay just as it is. If I feel love and peace, that is just the same as if I feel fear and anxiety. This is what ‘acceptance’ and ‘non-judgement’ really mean. You can’t say: Okay, I won’t get so down about my anger, but of course it’s better to be peaceful. No. They are both the same. That is non-judgement.
And there’s a fantastic side effect to accepting yourself for whoever you are: you start accepting other people for who they are, too. It may not happen straight away, but it definitely starts to happen. And it happens for a very simple reason: whenever you judge other people it simply comes from a non-acceptance of yourself in all your parts.
So say Fuck It to whatever you want to be. And just be who you are. There is no need to be anything else. There is no need to self-develop, or improve. There is no need to be like anyone else.
You are just fine exactly as you are right now. Just feel that now. All those bits of you that you don’t like, that you’re embarrassed about, they’re all fine. What you think of as your worst side is just the same as what you think of as your best side.
When you are angry, anxious, jealous, ruthless, that’s all the same as when you’re calm, peaceful, generous and loving.
Say Fuck It to Self-Control and Discipline
What I know is what you know: that our minds love the idea of self-control and discipline. We love the idea of improving, of bettering ourselves, of getting fitter and thinner, or smarter, or more accomplished.
And we think self-control and discipline are always the way. Well, our minds do, anyway. And the above little monologue is what typically goes on in my head. Even though I should know better by now, this is what my mind still gets up to. It just adores the idea of doing something at a certain time, consistently, every day, until some remarkable change has occurred.
The bugger with self-control and discipline is that it doesn’t usually work that well (for most of us, anyway).
Any attempt you make to control yourself . . . to impose discipline on yourself … can create some tension. It creates pressure that you usually can’t live up to. And the disappointment you face when you can’t live up to your own expectations is even more tedious than the frequency with which you let yourself down.
So just say Fuck It to it all. Just do what the hell you want. Try not to set up daily tasks for yourself to get fitter or thinner or smarter (though we all still will, of course). Once you lose the tension of these self-imposed expectations, you will feel so much freer. And when you feel free, you will be more tuned in to what your body wants:
- You will feel like exercising when you feel energetic.
- You will feel like vegging out in front of the telly when you don’t.
- You will feel like eating healthy food sometimes.
- You will feel like eating junk at others.
- You will feel like stopping eating when you’re full sometimes.
- And other times you will eat until you feel sick.
This is life. Give in to it.
Say Fuck It to Plans and Goals
When you decide you want something, whatever it is, it’s good to work out a plan for getting it, and to set up some deadlines for getting it done by. It works well.
The problem for a lot of people is that they don’t really know what they want. They have vague desires: to ‘do something creative’ or to earn more money or ‘to be free’, but they can’t really pin down what it is precisely that they want. So they drift from one thing to another, enjoying some moments and hating others, but never really finding fulfillment or success (whatever that means to them).
When you don’t really know what you want in life, the world can be very sympathetic and throw suggestions your way. But they often have no relevance to what you really need, because no one even knows what they want (like you).
This is why it’s hard to lead a successful life (whatever that means to you) when you don’t know what you want. A very vague message is sent out to the world, and you get only vague or inappropriate stuff back.
To lead a successful life, then, it’s a good idea to work out what you really want. Then get together some plans. Then set some goals.
Say Fuck It to Wanting the World to Be a Better Place
It’s impossible to separate spiritual people from people who want the world to be a better place. Sure, there are plenty of people who aren’t spiritual who also want the world to be a better place. But there aren’t many spiritual people who aren’t interested in it. So we’re all working for good to triumph over evil, for peace to reign over all, to eradicate hunger and terrorism. But haven’t you noticed something?
No matter how hard people try, the apparent balance between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, between ‘peace’ and the opposite, fighting and war, always remains pretty much the same. There have always been ‘good’ people. And there have always been ‘bad’ people.
Sometimes it will look like the good guy’s winning. Sometimes the bad guy. In the end, it all works out the same: they balance each other out over time.
So here’s the thing: let’s recognize that good will never win out over bad, or vice versa. Let’s accept things as they are … just exactly as they are right now. Let’s say Fuck It to the battle. It really doesn’t matter.
Like everything else that you do, once you start saying Fuck It, the effect is peculiar. Once you give up wanting the world to be a better place, you may well start actually doing something that has an apparent effect in the world.
Say Fuck It to What Other People Think of You
Why we care about what other people think of us
Some of us care a lot about what other people think of us. And it seems a very basic urge as we’re growing up to seek approval. I see it in my young children: they love to be seen doing things, to be laughed at when they do funny things, to be congratulated when they do something special. If we give children the attention and the approval they are seeking, they tend to develop a sense of self-worth or self-esteem. In other words, by fulfilling their need for approval from the outside world, they tend to develop a sense of self-approval.
And it seems that, as we grow up, we are defined by the level of self-approval that we have. If our earlier need for approval was not fulfilled and we therefore have a low level of self-approval (please feel free to interchange the word ‘self-esteem’), then we are likely to continue wanting approval from the outside world.
Of course, between these two extremes lie most of us. We’re not rabid attention-seekers, but we are also sensitive to how people view us.
We care, then, what other people think of us, first of all because we want their approval: more so when we lack approval for ourselves.
Another reason it matters to us what other people think of us is that we tend not to know what we actually want. If a person has a very clear aim and goal in life – for example to play in goal for England – they tend to get on with fulfilling this goal no matter what. Because they know what they want, and are confident in achieving it, they have the strength to deflect all the different critical views that come their way: you must spend more time doing your homework; you must think about doing a proper job; you are just a waster . . . etc. When we know what we want, what people think of us can become less important in the pursuit of that goal.
Other people are never being personal
When you really care what other people think of you, you tend to take everything personally. It’s possible to develop a somewhat twisted view of the world when you really care what other people think. You crave approval, and when you get it, you’re happy. When you’re the life and soul of the party, or the centre of attention, you’re happy as Larry (though I’m not quite sure which Larry, but let’s hope he was a happy fellow, otherwise that bit won’t work).
But anything that smacks of anything but approval throws you off. If someone neglects to say ‘Good morning’ to you, you wonder why. If you aren’t lauded for your new report, you get down (I don’t mean in a funky way, but in a depressed way). If that attractive woman/man doesn’t look at you, you start to wonder whether you’re ugly. A shop assistant is rude and offhand to you and it makes you furious. A car cuts you up on the motorway and you chase after them, in the mood to kill.
Your somewhat paranoid view of the world – where you start to take everything personally – can become ridiculously exaggerated.
But the truth is this: even those that from almost every perspective seem to be being personal with you, are not being personal.
When someone is apparently ‘personal’ with you, they’re usually venting their own negative emotions. It may be that you mirror their shadow-side: the part of them that they can’t admit to. It may simply be that they’re jealous of you for some reason. It may be that they’re simply in a bad mood and just want to take it out on someone. But the fact is that practically every time someone gets personal with you, it’s almost always more about them than it is about you.
So it’s not worth taking anything personally, because it’s unlikely to be about you.
You can’t keep everyone happy
If it really matters to you that other people approve of you, you will invariably come up against one hell of a bummer fact: you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
It is a fact. No matter how much you bend over backwards for people, you’ll always disappoint people, upset people and downright piss them off sometimes.
This is because everyone is different. Every single person has a unique GFUC, or Genetic Fucked-Up Code. Most people are fucked up but their fuck-ups are completely different. Which means that – even with one person – as much as you try to please them, you’re going to tap into one or two of their fucked-up qualities and get slaughtered for it.
The fact is that – even when you really want to – you can’t keep that many people happy for that much of the time. That’s because people aren’t that good at being happy. And they’re not that happy to simply ‘approve’ of other people. They prefer to find things in you that piss them off … things in you that they think are inferior to the things in them … this makes them feel (temporarily) a little bit better.
Saying Fuck It to things will really wind people up
It’s worth thinking about how much you care about what other people think of you, not least because the moment you start to say Fuck It to various things in your life, you’ll really start to wind people up. And it’s worth being ready for this.
When the power of a meaningful world begins to diminish for us, we challenge everyone whose worlds are still so meaningful. So the moment people do start to react to how you are, smile and say quietly, Fuck It.
It’s time to say Fuck It to what people think of you.
Approval is like anything else in this life: it can cause pain if it has a lot of meaning for you, if you’re attached to it.
If you can be arsed you can do a little exercise: Speak out (or write down) what you think other people now think of you, and follow it with a big Fuck It.
It’s time to care less about what others think of you.
It’s time to say Fuck It and feel what it’s like to be free.
Say Fuck It to Fear
Fear and love
There are two apparently opposing forces that govern our lives. No, not good and evil. Love and fear.
That’s right: the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.
We tend to operate in either of these two modes.
We either embrace and love life – this is called the libido. Libido is simply a love for life. If you have a high libido, you simply have a great love – even lust – for life.
And Lust for Life – as well as being a great song by Iggy Pop – is a great thing to have. When we go out to life with love, we are completely open.
The opposite mode is when we are in fear (rather than in love). In fear we close to life. In fear we go inside and hide. We want to retreat and block ourselves off from experiences.
Most of us are constantly moving between these two modes.
It is rational to be afraid of some things
There are things in life that it’s understandable being afraid of. A fear of snakes and spiders is quite natural, as – depending on where you are in the world – both can be very dangerous.
The problem with even these very natural ‘fears’ is that they can get out of hand. A fear of blood can lead you to faint at the sight of blood rather than act quickly to stem its flow.
I prefer the idea of being aware around dangers rather than being scared. And this is indeed what beware means … to be aware. It is important to be aware of how dangerous driving a car is, but not to be scared of driving. It is helpful to be aware that crossing a busy road carries a risk, but not to be scared of crossing roads.
At a very natural level we become scared of things that have the potential to cause us pain, even death: and this is the origin of fear in us.
It’s safe to be in pain
Most of us would have been taught that it was neither okay nor safe to be in pain. And this is what generates the growing sackful of fear that we live with and through.
So it’s time to start looking at how you are around pain. You’ll probably see that you panic a little (or a lot) around any pain. Whether it’s cutting your finger or getting the flu, being told something you didn’t want to hear or getting bad news over the phone, you will probably notice that you panic.
So the first thing to tell yourself is that there’s nothing to panic about.
So start saying Fuck It to pain. When you respond to pain you are only acting out a conditioned response. And all conditioned responses are reversible. When you encounter any pain, counter your immediate response by just saying Fuck It.
You are safe. In the end nothing matters. Give in to pain and you can give in to life.
And as you start to say Fuck It to pain, you’ll notice a couple of things. Your fear for things will begin to evaporate. And this fear will be replaced by libido: the love and lust for life.
This process has real momentum: the less you fear, the more you crave doing things that would have previously scared you. And the more that you do, the more that you get out there, the more you realize you can do and the more you realize there is to do.
Say Fuck It and Be Selfish
Just look at your life. Honestly look at what you spend your time doing in the light of whether it is selfish or selfless – or maybe you use other words for now to take away the accustomed meanings of those words: are your actions motivated by self-orientated aims, or with the aim of helping others?
As normal, ‘good’ human beings, we are perpetually acting out of
self-interest. We are essentially selfish beings.
Within the whole concept of self-oriented action, of selfishness, is the capacity to help other people. People give money to charity because they feel good about doing so. People help people less lucky than themselves because it makes them appreciate how lucky they are in their lives. People put themselves out for other people because it gives them a sense of purpose in their lives.
This doesn’t reduce the quality of what ‘good’ people are doing for other people. It just recognizes something in it that most people don’t spot.
And it’s an important quality to recognize if you ever need to raise money for charity. People are reluctant to just send money off to a cause that will never affect them or their families and give no ‘return’ on their money.
To be selfless is to sacrifice something you want in favour of something that someone else wants (or needs).
In business, it was once the vogue to talk about ‘win-win’ situations. Win-win is just one (desirable) outcome of several possible outcomes in any negotiation between two parties.
In any transaction with the world, it’s worth getting to a win-win situation. That’s where I am with my family. That’s where the charity-giver with the photo of his orphan sitting on his desk is. And it’s where you can be in every area of your life.
Why should you sacrifice what you want for what others want or need in: your relationship? with your family? in work? with your friends? with people less fortunate than yourself?
So it’s worth saying Fuck It to selflessness. If you start to feel you’re sacrificing yourself in favour of someone else, then you have to get honing your negotiation skills.
Selflessness is a lose-win situation. And they never work out. You end up getting pissed off and that’s no good in the end for the person who seemed to be winning. It’s much better if you think you’re getting something out of this relationship, too.
The best thing you can do for other people is to put yourself first. Under pressure from the world to be selfless, say Fuck It and be selfish.
Say Fuck It to Your Job
But if you decide that you don’t want to land in the local call-centre (or whatever jobs are most available down the road from where you live now), then there are, yes, unprecedented opportunities to get the hell out of there and make a success of something else.
Yet, yet, yet. All this freedom, all this opportunity, all this wealth and most of us are still not happy. Many of us don’t like the work we do or the company we’re working for.
The first reason is that there’s usually too much expectation. The workplace is as littered with unrealistic expectations as it is with crass clichés. Just think about the expectations that surround you and the job that you do: from parents, from friends, from society, from your employer, from your staff, from shareholders, from the government … We do what we do because we think it should be fulfilling us, that there’s the possibility of attaining all those material needs (and aims) we have. We expect a lot of a job. Your workplace is now probably also the most important community you belong to. So your job has a lot to hold in terms of expectation. And the problem is that many of these may be competing with each other: your parents want something to be able to brag about at dinner parties; your partner wants a fat paycheck; your boss wants long hours and high productivity; you want to spend more time sitting in parks reading.
It’s time to unpick the expectations. Work out what other people are expecting of you (and whether it really matters to you), work out what you are expecting of yourself (and whether that really matters to you). Start to say Fuck It to the things that you find actually don’t matter so much. Concentrate on the few things that do matter to you and make you feel good.
Start trying to please yourself more and see what happens. Which takes us onto the second reason: too little expectation. If you can relax enough to really feel what you fancy doing and what you really can’t bear doing, then it’s worth setting up some expectations about sorting yourself out. If you can’t bear the job you’re in, expect that you’re going to find something better within a month. Expecting positive change (especially when you know specifically what that change should be) works. And don’t get into too much stress about making decisions, moving on, etc. When you really know what you want (through relaxing), it’s very difficult for change not to happen quite naturally.
Saying Fuck It in the context of work isn’t just about giving up your job, though. It could be that as you relax you realize you’re actually content with the work you do. You may find that simply accepting what you have is the best way to say Fuck It. You may find that any unhappiness you feel is from others’ (or your own) unrealistic expectations of yourself. Are you going for the director’s job because you want it or because you think that’s what you should be doing? Do you really need to jump the next level up and work harder, or could you make do with what you have and maybe work less?
It’s time to stop hiding behind the words ‘I don’t really know what I want to do yet.’ Say Fuck It and have the courage to get to know yourself. What do you really want of yourself and for yourself?
Of course, sifting through your own desires is difficult. You want to be financially secure with a home abroad, but to work less in a less stressful job. Some desires can sit next to each other, some compete. Start working it out.
Say Fuck It to Searching
We’re all searchers. We’re always looking for more meaning. The search is relatively unconscious for much of our life. We search for meaning in relationships, in friendships, in jobs, in money, in hobbies, in ‘missions’ to help other people.
So in your search for meaning and satisfaction you can get to the place you’re after relatively quickly.
What tends to happen is once the object is achieved or owned, we tend to move on to the next thing. Then the next thing. Then the next thing.
If this happens often enough, people get to the point where they think ‘There must be more to life than this.’ And they tend to get spiritual.
So here’s another cosmic joke: the search in our lives leads us to try to find meaning beyond what ‘is’ in our lives. Our loves, our money, our achievements are not quite enough, so we look for more. And we look for it in ‘spirituality’, which usually involves the ‘unseen’.
Whereas the answer to everything possibly lies in this: not looking for more meaning, but looking for less.
When we strip away meaning from the things that are already meaningful in our lives, that’s where we find peace and the divine.
This is the joke: God is not more than we know. He’s less than we know. The less you search, the more you find. The less you want, the more you receive. The less you look, the more you see. The less ‘You’, the more ‘Is’.
If God is less when we’re looking for more, then spirituality is not some preserve of believers. Spirituality is everything as it is. Everyone is spiritual, as is everything. And everything you do is spiritual and divine: If you’re upset and angry, that’s spiritual. If you’re jealous, that’s spiritual. If you’re hungry, that’s spiritual.
Nothing is not spiritual.
This means that there’s nothing you have to do to be spiritual or ‘good’. You don’t have to go anywhere or achieve anything. You can truly say Fuck It to the whole thing and still be spiritual.
Because it is impossible not to be spiritual.
The Effect of Saying Fuck It
Most of us – as we have discussed – try to control our lives to the smallest detail. We have very sophisticated methods for controlling life.
When you give in to life, the same things happen:
- You start enjoying yourself, because the game of life is a good one and you’ve stopped resisting it.
- Life seems to love it when you stop resisting and starts coming your way more.
- Life ebbs and flows very naturally of its own accord. If you hit something nasty, it’s soon replaced naturally by something lovely.
Of course, the second statement is the one that you might be wondering about the most. This is counter-intuitive. We are taught that, to get anything in life, we have to work hard and strive for it. We have to set goals and work towards them. We have to work out what matters to us and ruthlessly put those things first and try to nurture them. We believe that if we don’t really strive for things, then we won’t get them. But, possibly, the opposite is true.
If we find the courage to loosen our hold on things … to stop wanting things so much … to stop working so hard and striving so much … to give up some of the things that matter to us … something magical happens: We naturally start getting what we originally wanted, but without the effort.
Now this is very zen and potentially very confusing: To get what you want you must give up wanting it.
But look at it like this: any form of desire and striving involves some form of tension. When you let go of the desire, the tension goes. And the relaxation that replaces it tends to attract good things into your life.
When you give up wanting everything to be just so, when you say Fuck It, life will be so grateful it will shower you with blessings.
Why Fuck It Is the Ultimate Spiritual Way
Life is spiritual. Life just flows. Life doesn’t judge or criticize. Life doesn’t resist what is. Because life is what is.
Life is pure softness and relaxation. Resistance to life is hardness and tension. Fuck It is the movement from tension (in whatever form) to relaxation (in every form).
Fuck It is a most profane way of saying the most profound thing: that when we relax and give in to the simple flow of life, we will experience the ultimate freedom.
So Fuck It is The Ultimate Spiritual Way.