“The life-changing magic of not giving a f**ck”: The anti-self help book that should be everyone’s life motto.

Be like Beyonce. Image: Getty.

I’ve never really been in to self-help books, save for a brief flick through an old copy of Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus I discovered on the family bookshelf. Bridget Jones, I was not.

Then I stumbled upon The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight. It’s the anti-self help bible for people who hate self-help books. And it’s become my new life motto.

It promises to teach you “how to stop spending time you don’t have doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like.” BAM.

Watch: Life advice from Jessica Rowe. (Post continues after video.)

Knight, a self-described overachiever and perfectionist, did the whole Marie Kondo thing (author of cult de-cluttering book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying) before deciding to take it one step further.

Yes, a tidy house made her feel better, but after quitting a job that she didn’t really like she experienced the taste of true liberation.

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She realised the problem wasn’t in a disorganised sock drawer; it was in a cluttered, frazzled and stressed-out mind that spent 24/7 worrying about anything and everything.

So she stopped giving a fu*k.

I found my new life motto in the pages of this book. Image: Supplied.

 

"Little by little after the next several years, I stopped giving a fu*k about the small things that annoyed me. I RSVPd 'no' to a couple of after-work mixers. I unfriended some truly irritating people on Facebook. I refused to suffer through another 'reading' of your 'play'," she writes.

"And little by little, I started feeling better. Less burdened. More peaceful. I hung up on telemarketers; I said no to a weekend trip with toddlers; I stopped watching Season Two of True Detective after only one episode. I was becoming my true self, able to focus more on people and things that actually, as Marie Kondo might say, 'sparked joy'."

It sounded glorious and I wanted in. Thanks to my proper English upbringing, I'd often felt like my politeness was both a blessing and a curse, compelling me to say yes to things I really didn't want to do and to people I really didn't like. It was time for a change. (Post continues after gallery.)

Knight's "Not Sorry" method is simple. First, decide what you don't give a fuck about and then don't give a fuck about them. Genius.

But while it sounds straightforward, actually getting to that frame of mind and attitude is what I found too difficult. What if I offended or upset someone?

According to Knight, this is the number one problem. Guilt, anxiety and obligation push us to give fucks we don't always want to. She argues that our fucks are in fact a precious commodity, and giving them away to things that don't bring you joy is a waste of time, energy and money.

Instead, take care of yourself first, allow yourself to say no and de-clutter your life of people and things that annoy you. Yes, this involves not giving a fuck about what people think of you. Just like children do. (Or assholes.)

Declutter your mind.

The starting point? Taking an inventory of your mental clutter. Make detailed lists of all things that are weighing on your mind that you're currently giving fucks about across four categories: Things, Work, Friends and Acquaintances.

For example, Things could include whether it's going to rain on the weekend, while Work could be that "team bonding" conference day you really can't be bothered with.

Dump it all down on four separate lists, one at a time. Then wade through separating the good (things worth caring about) from the useless, asking yourself each time 'Do I really give a fuck?'. Anything outside of your control, chuck out immediately.

While Kondo might recommend saying thank each item as you throw it out, Knight advises saying a big, loud "fuck you" as you cross the crap off your list. It's theraputic to say the least.

You've got to be brutal with the list. Image: iStock

 

I know what you're thinking; if I turn down that invitation to my best friend's half-birthday (as in, 31 and a half years old), won't she think I'm an asshole?

Not if you do it wisely. Knight recommends making it a difference of opinion to avoid hurting their feelings. A good cop out phrase is 'I have a personal policy against [insert X]'.

Embrace your new-found personal policy against half-birthdays with gusto. Nine out of 10 times, being honest and polite will serve you well. And your budget of fucks you have left to give for things that actually matter will be richer for it.

How did it work?

I'm not going to lie, it was hard. I couldn't go all out cold turkey straight away, so I took Knight's advice and started small.

A person posting on Facebook about things that were annoying or draining? Unfriended. An Instagram account that shamed me for not drinking a green smoothie every morning? Unfollowed. The charity newsletter that I signed up to years ago that continues to spam my inbox even though it's no longer a cause I'm passionate about? Unsubscribed.

No time to give a f**k about frizz either. Image: Supplied.

 

After I shook off the feelings of guilt, I did feel liberated. Bit by bit it became easier.

I owned up to not always watching Q&A and watching KUWTK instead. I declined invitations to drinks with people I didn't really like. I brought a good book to read instead of torturing myself through another cricket match. Instead of making empty promises to catch up with people I knew would never happen, I just said a simple goodbye.

No more suffering through unpleasant events and social interactions and much more time spent with friends that matter, family I care about and of course my doona and Netflix.

Joy over annoy and choice over obligation, this is one outlook I think everyone could do with more of. Whatever the 'thing' - destination weddings, childrens' birthdays, office karaoke or fretting over having one too many burgers, it's time to stop giving a fuck and be #SorryNotSorry. Politely, of course.

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