When Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up hit bookstore shelves, readers the world over were flooded with inspiration to declutter their lives, fold some sweaters, clear out their wardrobe. Sarah Knight, however, had a different attitude. Although Kondo’s book was an international sensation, for all those who were left wondering if there was something bigger and more inspirational than decluttering, Sarah’s hilarious, The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, is a worthy antidote.
The concept is simple: uncover the things you don’t give a f**k about and stop giving any f**ks. Our writer Fiona Macdonald, put this into action for one whole week – here’s how it worked out for her.
Following Sarah’s instructions, I start my f**k detox by going through the clutter in my ‘mental barn’ and breaking it down into four categories: things, work, friends, and family.
As a chronic people-pleaser, those last two are the ones I’m most worried about. But surprisingly, my ‘Things’ list is huge, while my friends and family lists have only a few items each.
I’m relieved, until I dig a little deeper. I realise the extent of f**ks I give about my family and friends is so great that I actually haven’t even been able to admit to myself the things I don’t care about. For example, admitting that I don’t give a f**k about acai bowls is easy, but letting the universe know that I really don’t care about my friend’s dog brings me out in a stress rash.
According to Sarah, this means the process is working. And by the end of it the biggest revelation isn’t what I don’t care about, but what I do. It turns out I actually really give a f**k about having Sunday afternoons to myself… but for years I’ve said yes to Sunday plans, because I’ve had no reason to say no. I now realise that napping on the couch and reading all afternoon is reason enough. I already feel so much closer to living my best life.
F**ks given: 0, Stress hives: 14
I haven’t even had my coffee when a friend messages asking if she can use my contacts to promote a new business she’s working on. Thanks to Sarah, I know that I want to say no, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I waste a good hour drafting justifications of why I can’t help. In the end I delete them and reply with: “Sure! What did you have in mind?” F**k, f**k, f**k.
Wake up with major f**k regret from the night before and vow to care less today. I have a new cleaner coming over and the house is in pre-deadline chaos. Usually I’d pre-clean so that I don’t come across as a total slob. But I decide I don’t care, so I leave everything as it is and spend the extra hour getting on top of my work. The cleaner doesn’t seem to think of me any differently and I finish work on time for once and reward myself with a long walk. Joy is sparked, f**ks aren’t given.
The friend from Day 2 gets back with details. Not only is this going to require me to put my friends in an awkward position, it’s also going to take a good few hours of my time. I take a deep breath and think, “What would Sarah do?” I nervously respond that, after more thought, I can’t help because it goes against my personal policy (one of the book’s handiest tips is instating the use of ‘personal policies’) of giving away my hard-earned contacts for free. She’s understanding but sounds sort of pissed off. Part of me wishes I’d just done it and avoided the awkwardness. But not enough to work for free for her. I feel proud.
I’d planned a catch-up with old work friends, but when the Facebook event reminder pops up, I realise that it’s the day before pay day and I’m quite literally broke. I know I should be honest and cancel, but instead I walk 50 minutes in 32 degree heat and use the money I saved on the bus fare to buy a single drink. I stare hollow-eyed and ravenous at the rest of them eating before trudging 3.5km home and eating rice for dinner at 10pm. I think this is what rock bottom looks like.
One of the things I do give a f**k about is yoga. But this also often conflicts with my passion for sleeping in. I don’t get out of bed until 10am and have brie and champagne for lunch. Zero f**ks given.
While I’m writing this up I realise that it’s highly likely that the people I’m writing about will be reading this, and I start to freak out. Until I realise that I can’t control what other people think, and force myself to not give a f**k. Baby steps, right?
The Life Changing Magic of Non Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight is out now, through Hachette Australia.