Seemingly, we’re living in the midst of a epidemic. A fast spreading plague of information centred around achievement, success and wellness. Each daily look at my social media feed sees a deluge of quotes from “boss babes” who “nail/slay it” every day, along with  self-proclaimed guru’s offering financial abundance, backed up and endorsed by imagery of cars, holidays in exotic locations and private jets.

Now as one of the biggest fan of self-improvement out there; you might be forgiven for thinking I’m being judgemental about these so-called Guru’s  I’m not.  No, really I’M NOT.  I’m an avid subscriber to the social media pages and YouTube channels of many top life coaches and I probably read two to three books a month of the subject of personal development.  I’m a self-confessed -self-help junkie. But as such, I recognise that these people I follow so avidly; are a rarefied breed.  Whether it be life-experience, unbounded drive and energy, an ability to see through the bullshit we all tell ourselves or just an other-worldly knack of reading people; genuine guru’s are few and far between.  And thank god for that because it really takes the pressure off us mere mortals……

Or at least it should….. but in an age where seemingly the goals around how we should be living are dictated by pictures on Facebook and Instagram; to not feel that pressure, can be easier said than done.  Particularly when every other person on our feed is espousing how loved, rich, successful or just plain wonderful they are… that they too are a life-coach/guru/role-model.  You’d be forgiven for feeling somewhat inadequate.

“Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, RSPH

And that’s just the problem, isn’t it? In social media land, “life” is curated, filtered and photo-shopped to the point where “real life” just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Being ourselves just isn’t enough when we’re constantly force-fed that we need to be more. Prettier, funnier, richer, thinner………..the list goes on.

No wonder there’s a growing mental health crisis and that it’s no more evident than within our young people, who’ve co-incidentally grown up glued to their smart phones. …. And no bloody wonder that people are looking for that one person…that one small nugget of gold that might just help them steer their way through this storm of enforced perfection we’ve found ourselves in.  All in the desperate hope it might just help us feel more comfortable in our own skin.

In such trying times, only the straight talkers and tough-lovers of self development will do.  Those life-coaching superheros whose special powers include the ability to laser-cut through the constant chatter and pressure of what we believe we should be/feel/ have/think/ and to give it to us straight.  Which brings me neatly onto Mark Manson and his latest book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*!K”.  Mark Manson is a prolific self-improvement blogger and New York Times best-selling author. In his own words…….

“I write about big ideas and give life advice that doesn’t suck. Some people say I’m an idiot. Other people say I saved their life. Read and decide for yourself”.

The text above is lifted straight off his website and pretty much sets the scene for this amazing read.  (Now at this point, I was going to to do a “Mark Manson’s top five life tips” kind of thing but I’m not going to because I really, really want you to read this book.  No, scrap that, I want EVERYONE to read this book because I honestly think no matter how great or together you think you might be; there’s absolutely, positively something you will learn out of picking it up.)

I’ve read and enjoyed many, many great books on self-development.  But right now, right here in this stifling atmosphere of unrelenting pressure to be everything, to have everything to achieve EVERYTHING; this is the one book I’d pick out as a shining beacon of hope.

Why? TSAONGAF delivers a tough-talking, no nonsense wake up call in a way that doesn’t make the reader feel…well….. like a failure.  In fact, in no time you’ll be looking at your perceived failures/flaws/quirks with a fresh set of eyes.  Unlike many books of it’s kind, Manson’s isn’t remotely preachy or evangelical – it never talks down to its audience or expects you to blindly follow its lead.  The irreverent and self-deprecating story telling takes you through the author’s own journey and as such demands your attention and participation in doing the deep soul-searching that establishing just what you really do give a f*”k about entails.  As such; I reckon it should be on everyone’s gift list this season.

And whilst I don’t give a f**k whether you read it or not, I sincerely hope you do.

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