Who the hell are you and why should I take you seriously?
Just some guy who reads a lot. And don’t take anything I say seriously. Unless you want to, of course. But the point is to think for yourself. If you like some of the things I say, great. If not, that’s fine too.
But, to answer your question, my name is Mark Manson. I’m 32 years old. I grew up in Austin, Texas. Went to school and lived in Boston. Traveled and lived all over the world for about seven years. Now I live in New York City. I enjoy cats and whiskey, although not at the same time.
So, why do you write about all this stuff?
Most of what I write is written for myself, first and foremost. I don’t share these ideas because I think I’m right and other people are wrong. I write them because I think I’m wrong, and correcting my own misjudgments on a public platform seems to help out a lot of other people in the process.
How would you summarize your philosophy?
We’re all wrong about everything, some just a little less wrong than others. Everything sucks some of the time, and that’s OK — happiness is learning how to appreciate the struggles in your life. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the planet, you couldn’t be special even if you wanted to be, so stop trying to prove yourself all the time. Trying to prove something to yourself and others is the root of most misery.
Life is about solving problems. Therefore, learn how to pick good problems. Avoiding problems just makes everything worse.
Human emotions are flawed. Always be skeptical of yourself, no matter what. Let go of your identity, you don’t really know who you are, nor should you. Sex is good. As long as it’s done consciously and for emotionally healthy reasons. So fuck your brains out. Appreciate love, but understand there are things more important than love.
It says you’re an author, have you written a book?
Yes, two, in fact. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life came out in 2016 and has become a big bestseller (NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, etc.). It basically talks about what we choose to find important in life and why it matters. Mainly because life sucks sometimes, and if we don’t care about important things, then we’re going to get steamrolled by all the little things.
I also wrote a dating advice book for men called Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. It was recently revised and updated in 2016 as well.
This is a big site, where should I start?
I recommend starting with each of the articles on the Best Articles page.
Why did you start this site?
I started blogging in 2007, just for fun. My roommates at the time were blogging about their lives and they encouraged me do the same. In the beginning, it was mostly about my party life and the girls I was dating. I never imagined it would be read by more than a handful of friends and acquaintances.
Later, it started catching on and I adapted it into a form of marketing for a dating advice business I was building at the time. A few years went by and I discovered that 1) writing was the one thing I seemed to enjoy more than anything else, and 2) it seemed to be the only thing I was kind of good at. So in 2010, I doubled down on writing and started to take this site seriously as a project I wanted to build a career out of. Three years later, I had improved it to the point of not being horrible. Then everyone lived happily ever after.
Do you have a degree in psychology? Shouldn’t you have one?
No and no. I told you not to take me seriously, remember?
So how did you learn about all this stuff?
This is a three-part answer:
- While other kids were listening to Backstreet Boys and watching MTV, I was reading Nietzsche. I was a weird kid in that I started reading about philosophy and psychology when I was still in my early teens. When I got to college, I studied International Relations (which is kind of a cross between world history and political science) and got involved with a number of self-help movements of varying levels of sleaze and cheese. The point here is that I’ve spent most of my life reading a lot about these topics. It’s always been a passion and hobby of mine, so when I started writing about them a few years ago, I had half a lifetime of thought to immediately call upon.
- I get bored easily. This gets me into trouble a lot, but it also causes me to live what others would consider a fairly extreme life with a lot of “learning experiences” (i.e., crazy, stupid mistakes). I quit my first day job two months in to start an internet business. I’ve traveled to over 60 countries and speak three languages. I’ve gone broke multiple times and lived on people’s couches. I bring this up only to point out that I think real understanding only comes through living through failures, and I’ve never shied away from failure. After all, failure is never boring.
- Once I started developing a large readership, I realized that I should be aware of the science out there, so I’ve spent a number of years studying the academic research on things such as happiness, passion, goals, relationships and so on. I decided that if people are going to listen to me, I should be well-informed on a lot of the current research.
You write things that contradict a lot of the popular life advice and self-help out there. What’s your problem, bro?
Feeling good sells. It’s much easier to sell a book or a course or a seminar on an infomercial if you promise to make people feel good about themselves.
The problem is that feeling good about yourself isn’t the same thing as being good as yourself. In fact, a lot of this feel good stuff (like The Law of Attraction, or “everyone is special and exceptional,” or “just stay positive”) can be damaging in the long-run, as it turns us into a population of self-absorbed, entitled nitwits.
Possibly the most useful trait in life is resilience, and you build resilience through experiencing difficulty and challenges. The same way you must break down your body to build up your muscle and bone, you must experience a healthy amount of adversity to build up your emotional and psychological strength.
Do you run this whole site by yourself?
No. I have two guys who help me make this site what it is. Philip Kemper manages the technical side of the site, customer service, and has a Master’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Amsterdam. Drew Birnie handles a lot of the research and fact-checking that needs to be done. He also assists with social media, site design, and a little bit of writing here and there. He also has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and was working on his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Iowa before I hired him and ruined his life forever.
Who does the artwork on your site?
The art on the front page was done by a very talented woman named Tony Todorova. She also did the artwork for the articles here, here, and here. The rest of the site is either art/photos licensed from various websites, or done by myself.
What about the audio recordings?
The audio versions of the articles are read by Nathan Agin.
Do you have a day job? How do you make money?
Good question. I don’t have advertisements. I don’t work for any publisher or magazine or editor. I don’t freelance or sell my work to other publications. So how do I do this and still eat?
See, to remain independent, to keep sharing my unabridged thoughts and dropping F-Bombs like it’s Dresden in 1944, I depend on the support of the very people who read me every week. And I feel strongly that that’s the way it should be.
Click here to learn more about how to support the site and gain access to everything.
How can I get notified when you publish more articles?
Easy, sign up for email updates below.
Or even better, support the site and become a subscriber.
What about social media? Can I stalk you?
Please do! Click the buttons below to follow me:
How did you get so handsome?
Sigh. Everybody asks me this. If I knew, do you really think I’d be blogging?
Do you really eat that many burritos or are you just trying to impress people?
You got me. I’m still trying to prove something.
Hey Mark, my significant other called me X days ago, and then said Y, and when I asked my best friend’s mother for advice, she said that I should do Z, but see my partner is like the love of my life and he/she just keeps fucking everything up in Q way, and…
[6 pages later…]
So what do you think I should do? Should I move to Tahiti to be with him/her? Or should I dump them and join the circus? I’m so confused.
This is getting long. Is this FAQ-like thing almost over?
But seriously, I love/hate you, can I email you?
Yes, you can. Click over to the Contact Page. I’m not able to reply to everyone, but I do read everything.
Do you do interviews or public appearances?
I do! But not as often as I used to. Please read my guidelines on the Contact Page to learn about interviewing me or media appearances.
If you want to see me speak somewhere, then you should follow me on Facebook and/or sign up for my email list as those are the places I announce things.