Everything Is Fucked by Mark Manson: Summary and Notes

“The problem isn’t that we don’t know how not to get punched in the face. The problem is that, at some point, likely a long time ago, we got punched in the face, and instead of punching back, we decided we deserved it.”

Rating: 8/10

Related: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Unfu*k Yourself, You Are a Badass, Models

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Everything Is Fucked Short Summary

Everything is Fucked by Mark Manson is a book about hope and how we shouldn’t be too dependent on it. Rather, we should create a world in which hope is not a means to an end but an end in itself. Hope should stem from appreciating our own insignificance in the grand scale of things however uncomfortable the truth is. We should accept things as they are and develop virtues based on Kant’s formula for humanity. An excellent book on hope and the crisis of being.

Why Is Everything Fucked

Compared to the vast universe, our actions and material existence are insignificant. Our brains react to our insignificance through the construction of hope which is our mind’s primary goal.

“Hope is the only thing any of us willingly dies for. Hope is what we believe to be greater than ourselves. Without it, we believe we are nothing.”

In other words, everything is fucked is the belief that there is no hope. When you believe that everything is fucked, you lose the motivation to do anything.

Part I: Hope

The Uncomfortable Truth

We project our imagined importance in the universe. But in the real sense, it is just a way of avoiding the uncomfortable truth of our material insignificance. This is what gives us hope.

“Something needs to matter because without something mattering, then there’s no reason to go on living. And some form of simple altruism or a reduction in suffering is always our mind’s go-to for making it feel like it’s worth doing anything.”

Whenever we face adversity, our brains create these hope narratives that give us a sense of purpose. It is one of the reasons people flock to religions. Religions acknowledge this permanent state of unknowing and demand faith in the face of it.

The Paradox of Progress: we are the safest most prosperous humans in the history of the world yet we are also increasingly hopeless. As things get better, our despair increases.

“The wealthier and safer the place you live, the more likely you are to commit suicide.”

To build and maintain hope, we need a sense of control, a belief in the value of something, and a community.

Self Control Is An Illusion

The Classic Assumption: the rational mind should dominate our emotions

“The Classic Assumption sees passion and emotion as flaws, errors within the human psyche that must be overcome and fixed within the self.”

We judge people based on the classic assumption.

For example:

Obese and fat people are accused of lacking control over their impulses to overeat.

The classic assumption leads to the belief that we need to change ourselves. Because if we can’t change, it is a sign of internal deficiency.

The brain has 2 parts, the thinking and the feeling brain:

  • The thinking brain has the ability to reason
  • While the feeling brain expresses emotions

Both of these parts of the brain need to work together and neither is more important than the other.

If you repress your emotions, you will get a crisis of hope because once you reject your emotions, you can no longer make value judgments. This will make you indifferent to life. 

At the same time, if you deny your thinking brain, you will become impulsive and selfish. You will never be satisfied no matter what’s available to you.

“Every problem of self-control is not a problem of information or discipline or reason but, rather, of emotion. Self-control is an emotional problem; laziness is an emotional problem; procrastination is an emotional problem; underachievement is an emotional problem; impulsiveness is an emotional problem.”

Newton’s Laws of Emotion

Newton’s First Law of Emotion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite emotional reaction

Pain causes moral gaps that makes us want to equalize.

For example:

If someone punches you, you want to punch back.

“When confronted with moral gaps, we develop overwhelming emotions toward equalization, or a return to moral equality.”

We have value hierarchies that determine how we spend our time and money. Personal growth happens when we change our value hierarchies.

Newton’s Second Law of Emotions: our self worth equals the sum of our emotions over time

When moral gaps are not equalized, they tend to normalize. They become part of our value hierarchy.

“High and low self-worth appear different on the surface, but they are two sides of the same counterfeit coin. Because whether you feel as though you’re better than the rest of the world or worse than the rest of the world, the same thing is true: you’re imagining yourself as something special, something separate from the world.”

Newton’s Third Law of Emotion: your identity will stay your identity until a new experience acts against it

“We trade narratives with others, looking for people whose narratives match our own. (…) And those who carry narratives that contradict our own? We call them evil.”

Narratives form part of our identities. We protect them and react emotionally when challenged.

To form new identities, we need to change our narratives. 

“The only way to change our values is to have experiences contrary to our narratives.”

To heal, we need to replace our faulty values with better healthier ones. And the way to do this is to allow our feeling brain to visualize the future that we want for ourselves. 

Emotional gravity: people are pulled towards other people with similar histories and experiences like our own

How To Make Your Dreams Come True

All humans feel powerless and guilty for existing. This is a source of our despair.

Strife is universal although we tend to think that we are the only ones suffering.

How to establish your own religion:

  1. Sell hope to the hopeless. Religions look out for the destitute and the hopeless
  2. Choose your faith. Create a belief that something is important
  3. Preemptively invalidate all criticism or outside questioning. Find a way to protect your faith from the inevitable criticisms that it will face
  4. Create rituals. Rituals make our values tangible
  5. Promise heaven, deliver hell.  Religious ideals need to be unattainable because the harder they are to live up to the more followers will feel guilty
  6. Prophet for profit.  Now it’s time to profit from your religion by asking followers for rewards

“Remember that in order to feel hope, we need to feel there’s a better future out there (values); we need to feel as though we are capable of getting to that better future (self control); and we need to find other people who share our values and support our efforts (community).”

Hope Is Fucked

According to Nietzsche, there are two types of moralities:

  • Slave morality
  • Master morality

“Whereas master morality believes in the virtue of strength and dominance, slave morality believes in the virtue of sacrifice and submission. While master morality believes in the necessity of hierarchy, slave morality believes in the necessity of equality. While master morality is generally represented by right-wing political beliefs, slave morality is usually found in left-wing political beliefs.”

Nietzsche believed that slave and master moralities are the root of all political evil in our world and throughout history.

As religions grow, they define ingroups and outgroups and spur conflict between groups that have opposing values and rituals. It is this conflict that maintains hope. In other words, hope requires that everything be fucked.

“The sources of hope that give our lives a sense of meaning are the same sources of division and hate. The hope that brings the most joy to our lives is the same hope that brings the greatest danger. The hope that brings people closest together is often the same hope that tears them apart. Hope is, therefore, destructive. Hope depends on the rejection of what currently is.”

We must stop hoping and accept what is. That is the only way to end the perpetual cycle of conflict.

everything is fucked

Part II: Everything Is Fucked

The Formula of Humanity

To become emotionally healthy individuals, we must break out of the constant bargaining of the adolescent brain that only seeks pleasure in a give and take relationship. This is the secret to becoming an adult.

“While the people who navigate life through bargaining and rules can get far in the material world, they remain crippled and alone in their emotional world. This is because transactional values create relationships that are built upon manipulation.”

The adult recognizes that an abstract principle is right and good for its own sake even if the reward for you is not immediate.

For example:

Being honest is the right thing to do although it might not always help to be honest.

All the major world religions try to pull their adherents to unchanging principles. But religions ultimately become corrupted and become human institutions.  They cannot meet the goal of ending hopelessness and creating adult virtues.

The Formula for Humanity: act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or any other, always at the same time as the end, never merely as a means

Hope is transactional and to transcend the realm of hope one must act unconditionally. And you must be willing to act unconditionally.

The only way of improving the world is by improving ourselves.

“Kant understood that there is a fundamental link between our respect for ourselves and our respect for the world. The values that define our identity are the templates that we apply to our interactions with others, and little progress can be made with others until we’ve made progress within ourselves. “

Pain Is the Universal Constant 

The Blue Dot Effect: humans warp their perceptions to fit their expectations. We expect bad things where there are none.

Humans assume that they are the universal constant of their own experience but that is not true. Pain is the universal experience. 

“Pain is the universal constant of life. And human perception and expectations warp themselves to fit a predetermined amount of pain. In other words, no matter how sunny our skies get, our mind will always imagine just enough clouds to be slightly disappointed.”

We cannot rid ourselves of pain and any attempt to do so will backfire. Pain is the experience of life itself and positive emotions are only the temporary removal of pain. 

Hope is self defeating because no matter what we achieve in life, we shall always adjust our expectations to maintain a steady sense of adversity. 

Pain is the source of all value. It is what gives life meaning.

The Feelings Economy

Modern marketing techniques take advantage of the customer’s moral gaps and then offers a way to fill them.

Feelings make the world go round and this is because people spend money to make themselves feel good.

“Money is a form of exchange that is used to equalize moral gaps between people.”

There are two ways of creating value in the feelings economy:

  1. Innovations (upgrade pain). Innovations replace pain with a more tolerable pain
  2. Diversions (Avoid pain). Diversions help people to numb their pain. Examples of diversions include a weekend out with friends and the use of drugs.

Self limitation is the only ethical form of freedom. It is not the privilege of doing what you want with your life but choosing what you will give up.

“Freedom itself demands discomfort. It demands dissatisfaction. Because the freer a society becomes, the more each person will be forced to reckon and compromise with views and lifestyles and ideas that conflict with their own.”

The Final Religion

Artificial intelligence is the final religion. It is the religion that lies beyond good and evil and the one that will unite and bind us all.

We only need to stick around long enough for the technology to take hold. And the way to do this is by adapting our technology for our flawed psychology rather than exploiting it. 

We also need to stop exploiting people and enshrine the virtues of autonomy, liberty, privacy and dignity. At the same time, we need to create tools that help our thinking brain better communicate with our feeling brain.