Futile Pursuits

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I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the Mark Manson phenomenon. I found his blog ages ago, as I do. At first, I loved him. He was new! He was brill! Then when he become super popular and began charging for his words (NTTAWWT), I viewed those words more critically. Hmm, I thought, he’s actually just recycling stuff advice columnists have said forever but packaging it up in cool terms with swear words. Feh. Also, I was mad because someone advised me not to use F*CK in a title and I listened, but Mark did and his book became a best-seller. We won’t talk about the fact that I never actually finished my book. That’s irrelevant, people!

But lately, in the last year or so, I’ve wandered back into the MM fold like a lost little sheeple. Not really in the fold, more like on the edge of the field, ready to bolt away again at any moment, but… I kinda inadvertently subscribed by email to his newsletter. The free one! Gawd. And I may have the PDF of his free self-help book ready to download in another email. Maybe. Not saying if I do or not. I’m certainly not a stan, just an interested observer. Curious, ya know. He’s interesting. Once, lol, I wondered if Mark was actually a real person or the creation of a marketing team, so I did some sleuthing and concluded that he probably does exist.

Anyway. Point is, this last article from Mark knocked my socks off. I mean, it was the bees’ knees, my friends. The cat’s PJ’s. And the best thing about it? It is only telling you what you already know! But Mark puts together a bunch of disparate things you know in one place and ties them together in a way that makes sense and gives you a clear insight into something really profound: the relationship between effort and reward.

Why The Best Things In Life Are All Backwards” may be the most brilliant piece I’ve read from Mark, and that’s saying a lot. I encourage everyone to read it right now and keep it bookmarked. I intend to reread it many times. The following quote is one gem, and it makes logical as well as intuitive sense:

Pursuing happiness takes you further away from it. Attempts at greater emotional control only remove us from it. The desire for greater freedom is often what causes us to feel trapped. The need to be loved and accepted prevents us from loving and accepting ourselves. — Mark Manson, in “Why The Best Things…”

You need to read the whole piece to really grok what he’s saying. It’s so great, and yet so simple too. That’s what makes it outstanding. I sort of stumbled toward this idea several times when I grew frustrated with my writing and couldn’t bear to do marketing, and then went back to my WIPs but only on my terms, which were pleasure-only. I can’t pursue writing for the goal of making money or selling X-number of books, since that only makes me frustrated and upset when it doesn’t happen. I don’t enjoy writing when I’m pursuing those goals because I’m thinking about them instead of immersing myself in words. I start obsessing about details of marketing and sales instead of points of plot and character or intricacies of rhyme and rhythm. And then I give it all up and watch TV.

There’s so much more to MM’s article ~ I’m just giving you a little taste in my bloggery here. If it doesn’t appeal, check out one of his greatest hits. I’m not getting a kickback. I just think he has some good things to say.


This poast was inspired by Daily Addictions WOTD: Futile.

7 responses to “Futile Pursuits

  1. Happiness is never the goal; peace of mind is. I’ve been sniffing around “A Course in Miracles” and buddhism and ho’oponopono and taoism (which drown-proofing reminds me of) and any number of other philosophies that keep saying this: As long as you keep listening to your ego/attachments/fears/insert-pet-name-for-neurosis-here, you will be miserable. It is about letting go of what’s outside yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve probably got all the advice you can use on that, but if you can tolerate yet another, I’d recommend taking a look at Stoicism. Bottom line is that it narrows your focus to those things you can actually change (a damned sight fewer than you probably think) and moves you toward being content with things as they are and appreciating the near-zero likelihood that you exist at all, whatever form that existence is hammered into by forces outside your control. Sounds much more pie-in-the-sky loopy than it is — mostly it’s just hard-core insistence on being content with Living In The Moment as it exists.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I try to avoid self-help books for about the same reason that I have to battle my way past every chunk of writers’ software that comes along. Some of it’s actually useful, at least inasmuch as it’s actually used for writing (yay Scrivener!) but the useful bits don’t begin to make up for the fact that by the time it’s all said and done, I’ve spent about $2000 per page actually produced. I’m a tech freak, and cannot resist time-saving myself right into a zero-productivity state. I’ve got so much labor-saving writers’ shit in my toolbox that I should actually be capable of going backwards in time, but I notice my “what I wrote yesterday” box remains stubbornly empty. Just so with self-help thingers: I limit myself to stoicism because it fits and also because chasing down yet another “fix” (even if worthwhile over the short-term) invariably results in me getting buried in the Cool Stuff and not actually doing a single useful damned thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m kinda the same both with mental and physical. Everything that comes along has at least a smidge of the why not try factor. Whaddaya got to lose? It’s hard to come up with a logical reason not to go on the cactus juice cleanse “just to see” if it might help my migraines; why be stubborn about this? But I don’t wanna! That said, i did finally relent and try a few things, which aren’t overly burdensome, but they aren’t helping. I do enjoy reading a quick splash of logic that aligns with my own evolution because verification yay! I think that’s the MM draw, mixed with a bitter dose of why didn’t I write this shit and make a fortune?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess I probably shouldn’t even comment, but I didn’t see the draw there. It all seemed kind of shallow and simplistic. If this guy stopped me on the street and tried to explain that his car broke down and his sister who lives in Sedalia is having a family emergency and he needs just $17 more to get the bus fare, I’d politely turn away.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That was exactly what I needed tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

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